November 9, 2023
Estimated Read Time: 5 min.

Google Ad Grants for Nonprofits: A Comprehensive Guide

The Google Ad Grants program provides in-kind advertising credit to eligible nonprofit organizations through Google Ads. This allows nonprofits to create search and display advertising campaigns promoting their missions and initiatives on Google platforms.

However, setting up Google Ad Grants for nonprofits can get confusing.

The credit allocation, eligibility criteria, application/onboarding process, and program terms depend on factors like nonprofit type, location, and Google’s own guidelines. Generally, the Google Ad Grants program aims to help qualified nonprofits expand their visibility and connect with new supporters through sponsored ads.

This comprehensive guide covers what nonprofits need to know about getting started with Google Ad Grants, including:


  • Google Ad Grants requirements


  • The application and onboarding process


  • Setting up, managing, and optimizing ads and campaigns


  • Tracking performance to demonstrate impact


  • Ongoing account management and policy compliance


Determining if Google Ad Grants is worthwhile involves weighing the potential benefits of increased visibility against the staff time and effort required to effectively utilize the program. With strategic setup and management, Ad Grants can help eligible nonprofits promote their mission to more potential donors and volunteers.



What are Google Ad Grants?

Google Ad Grants provides free advertising credit to eligible nonprofits for Google Ads each month. Nonprofits can use this credit to run sponsored search and display ads promoting their mission. Interested nonprofits must apply and be approved for access to the program. Ad Grants enable nonprofits to reach more potential supporters at no cost through Google advertising.



Google Ad Grants Requirements

For nonprofit organizations interested in accessing Google’s free advertising credit through Ad Grants, let’s break down each of the Google Ad Grants Requirements so you can evaluate if your nonprofit is qualified to apply.

First, your nonprofit must be registered as a recognized charitable organization in one of the countries where the Google Ad Grants program is available. Eligibility varies based on your location. Your nonprofit also needs to be verified by Google’s partner, Percent.

To meet the requirements for your country, your nonprofit must align with the charitable organization guidelines for places like tax status, registrations, length of operation, etc. Check Google’s list of countries and requirements to see if your nonprofit is eligible based on your location.

Additionally, you must agree to Google for Nonprofits’ Terms of Service to participate in the program. So, give the fine print a read.

Now for the bad news. There are a few types of organizations that don’t qualify for Ad Grants even if you meet the other eligibility items:


  • Government agencies or entities


  • Hospitals or healthcare organizations (although their charitable foundations can qualify)


  • Schools, universities, or academic institutions (but their philanthropic foundations may still be eligible)


If your nonprofit fits into one of those three categories, unfortunately, the Google Ad Grants program is not an option. However, many other nonprofits will qualify if they meet the right requirements for their country and have proper charitable legal status.

Take the time to thoroughly determine if your nonprofit organization meets the eligibility criteria outlined on Google’s website and summarized here. If you need help navigating the guidelines, don’t hesitate to connect with a Google nonprofit specialist. Hopefully, you’ll find your organization has the green light to apply and start accessing all of the benefits of Google Ad Grants for nonprofits.



How to Apply for Google Ad Grants

Want your nonprofit to start accessing Google’s free ad credit? Here are the key steps to take before submitting your Ad Grants application:


1. Enroll in Google for Nonprofits

You must enroll your organization in Google for Nonprofits to qualify for the Google Ad Grant Program. This also provides free tools like Gmail, Drive, Calendar, YouTube, and more.

To enroll, you’ll need to submit documentation like your tax ID number, contact info, and TechSoup validation token. Approval can take 2-14 business days, so don’t delay! Once accepted, you can apply for Ad Grants.


2. Install Google Analytics

Before applying, make sure Google Analytics is installed on your website. This is a requirement for eligibility.

Set up conversion tracking goals like newsletter signups or donations. These will help optimize your future ad campaigns.


3. Submit for Eligibility Review

Next, submit your website and Google for Nonprofits account to the Ad Grants team. They’ll review your content to confirm you meet their qualifications.

It usually takes about three business days to get a response on your eligibility.


4. Build Your Google Ads Account

Once approved, follow Google’s instructions to create a basic Google Ads account, which you’ll also submit for review.

Choose “Classic” for full access to tools rather than the limited “Smart Campaign.”


5. Start Planning Your Campaigns

With approval, you can begin strategizing your Google Ads campaigns and maximize this awesome free ad credit opportunity. Make sure you plan your campaign strategically so you don’t squander this opportunity – Google Ad Grants are perhaps the best way for nonprofits to increase their reach and donor base.



Making the Most of Your Google Ad Grant

Congrats, you’ve been approved for Google Ad Grants for Nonprofits! Now, it’s time to make the most of that free ad credit through smart campaign creation and optimization. Here are some tips:

Research Effective Keywords

Brainstorm relevant keywords and phrases your target donors/volunteers may be searching for. Tools like Google’s Keyword Planner help gauge search volume and competition for terms. Focus on more precise long-tail keywords.


Write Quality Text Ads

Keep ad copy succinct, compelling, and accurate. Use dynamic keyword insertion to include what the user is searching for. Target the ad to their intent. Drive action clearly with strong call-to-action language.


To see an example campaign launch process in action, check out Google’s official video series on how to launch a successful Ad Grants campaign:

Launch a Successful Ad Grants Campaign


This video is part of an excellent Ad Grant launch series from Google covering campaign setup, keyword research, ad writing, tracking, and optimization. We highly recommend viewing the full playlist for step-by-step guidance.

With smart planning and ongoing optimization, your nonprofit can yield great results from Google Ad Grants. Define your goals, understand your audiences, create targeted ad messaging, analyze performance data, and continuously improve. The free ad credit provides invaluable opportunities to reach more of your core supporters.



Complying with Google’s Policies

Google establishes policies for the Ad Grants program that users must comply with to remain in good standing. Failing to meet the requirements can lead to account suspension. Let’s review key policies and best practices for avoiding issues.


Restricted Keywords

Google prohibits overly generic, low-relevance keywords that don’t indicate user intent. Monitor for low-performing terms and pause them. Also avoid single keyword ads except for your brand name.


Minimum Quality Scores

Keywords must maintain a minimum quality score of 3 out of 10. Set up an automated rule to regularly pause keywords scoring 1-2.


5% Minimum CTR

Accounts must average at least a 5% click-through rate each month to avoid suspension from the Google Ad Grants program. Check your overall CTR regularly. Pause low-performing keywords dragging down the average.


Accurate Conversion Tracking

If using Smart Bidding, you must implement accurate conversion tracking with at least one conversion per month. Ensure your reported conversion rate aligns with your goals.


Additional Policy Requirements

Other policies cover areas like ad content, trademarks, restrictions by country, and more. Thoroughly review and remain current on Google’s full program policies.


Ongoing Monitoring

Monitor your account’s health metrics, keyword quality, and latest policies, and pause outdated or non-compliant elements. Being proactive prevents problems.


Leverage Automation

Use tools like Google’s Bulk Actions and automated rules to regularly check accounts and bring them into compliance on keywords, quality scores, etc.


Seeking Assistance

If issues arise, immediately reach out to Google support specialists who can diagnose problems and help restore your account to good standing.

By closely adhering to Google’s policies through constant vigilance and automation, your nonprofit can avoid Ad Grant suspensions and maximize your access to this invaluable program.



Is Google Ad Grants Worth It?

In short – yes, with proper implementation and optimization, the program delivers significant upside at minimal monetary cost. The key is investing time upfront to launch effective campaigns, coupled with ongoing iteration. Optimizing Ad Grants involves a learning curve and resource commitment that should not be underestimated. Achieving the best results requires researching high-potential keywords, writing compelling ads, designing quality landing pages, and analyzing performance data. Dedicating staff time or working with an agency familiar with the program is advised.

Don’t have the bandwidth to unleash your Google Ad Grants potential? Reach out to our team!

Receive the latest insights monthly.

Our monthly lab report will feature stories about Strat Labs’ Changemakers, industry information, best practices for powering your purpose, digital marketing and branding tips for any size budget, and how to tap into your organization’s community. We promise to keep it light, useful, and funny. Always funny.