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Mission Control / Higher Education and Nonprofit

What Your Nonprofit Should Know About Google Ad Grants

Is your organization eligible for this free program? How does it work? We break it down for you.

What Your Nonprofit Should Know About Google Ad Grants

By Tina Kelly

Nonprofit organizations have access to more resources than ever before to help spread awareness of their causes and drive donations, thanks in large part to digital communication channels.

But there’s an invaluable resource that not all nonprofits take advantage of — or even know of, for that matter. That resource is Google for Nonprofits, a free program that provides access to a range of tools, from Google Workspace to the YouTube Nonprofit Program.

But by far, the most valuable aspect of Google for Nonprofits is the Google Ad Grants program, which provides eligible nonprofits with up to $10,000 in free Google search ads every month. This ad money is available at no charge to the organizations, making it a powerful tool in advertising for nonprofits.

So how does the Google Ad Grants program work, and what should your nonprofit know before diving in headfirst? Here we give you the rundown on the program and how to take full advantage of it.

Are All Nonprofits Eligible?

The short answer is no. To qualify for a Google for Nonprofits account — and, subsequently, the Google Ad Grants program — “you must be a nonprofit charitable organization in good standing, and meet the full eligibility requirements in your country,” which includes being a 501c3 organization.

Not all charitable nonprofits qualify for the program, either. You can’t be a governmental entity or organization, a hospital or healthcare organization, or a school, academic institution or university (Google has another program for educational organizations called Google for Education).

But as long as your nonprofit meets the above criteria, you can join the Google for Nonprofits program.

Step 1: Request a Google for Nonprofits Account

If your organization already has a Google account, you’ll use it to apply for the program. If not, you’ll need to create one.

Now that your account is set up, you can request a Google for Nonprofits account using the steps in this tutorial video. Google will then begin the verification process.

Step 2: Activate Google Ad Grants

Once you’ve been verified, you can activate Google Ad Grants. First, log in to your Google for Nonprofits account and click “Activate” under Google Ad Grants. You will then be prompted to complete an eligibility form.

After completing the form, return to your Google for Nonprofits account and click “Activate” under Google Ad Grants again. At this point, your activation will be submitted for review, which generally takes three business days. For more help on the activation process, check out this guide.

Step 3: Create a Campaign

Now that you’ve enrolled in the program and activated Google Ad Grants, it’s time to build a campaign and start running Google Search Ads.

For help on creating a campaign and the tasks you’ll need to complete, you can refer to this guide and/or this series of step-by-step videos.

Common Google Ad Grants Mistakes

While there’s no doubt that Google Ad Grants provide an invaluable opportunity for nonprofits, the unfortunate reality is that most nonprofits don’t take full advantage of the program. This generally happens when a nonprofit doesn’t have an in-house digital marketing expert and/or because using all of the grant money every month is hard to do — and it’s even harder if you’ve never run a campaign before.

Another common misstep when it comes to using Google Ads for a nonprofit organization is only considering keywords and search terms that directly pertain to the organization’s cause, what it does and/or who it serves. This approach leaves so much opportunity on the table to raise awareness with unlikely audiences through outside-the-box thinking. While you don’t want to include irrelevant terms in your campaigns, there are likely broader terms that you can take advantage of to build awareness and provide resources to users searching for information.

Extend Your Reach Through Content

The key for your nonprofit to widen its reach and ultimately take advantage of more free ad dollars, increase awareness and drive more donations through Google Ad Grants is to ask yourself “how can my organization become a resource for things we aren’t typically known for?” After answering that question, the next step is to create content that helps establish your organization as a legitimate resource for those specific topics.

For example, say you write a blog post explaining what a charitable tax credit is, how it works and how potential donors can take advantage of it by giving to your organization. You can then leverage that content and build a campaign around it.

Then when people search for things like “how to use charitable tax credit,” your Google Search Ad will appear and help drive traffic to your website. This results in several positive outcomes — you get closer to using all the free monthly ad money; you drive more traffic to your website, which helps raise awareness of your organization and its cause; and you hopefully drive more donations for your organization because of the call to action within your blog post (remember to include one!).

A Partner Can Help Maximize Success

The reality of Google Ad Grants is that it can be a daunting undertaking — especially if you’ve never done it before. Creating strong, effective content can be time-consuming, and it takes experience to ensure you’re using the content in the right way to maximize your success.

By partnering with an expert with intimate knowledge of both the Google Ads platform and experience running successful campaigns, you can maximize the reach and positive impact of your campaigns exponentially.

Need Help with Google Ad Grants?

We have experience running campaigns for a range of nonprofits. Give us a shout.

Let’s Chat

Tina Kelly
Tina Kelly Chief Marketing Officer

Tina brings more than 10 years of experience to C/A, where she partners with companies to develop digital marketing campaigns that leverage content, encouraging audiences to consume, engage, share and convert. Tina’s experience spans industries, having led digital marketing strategy development and execution for several global and national brands, including The Children’s Place, Nationwide Insurance, Delta Faucet and many more.

Tina has presented at a number of industry conferences and events, including SXSW Interactive and Content Marketing World. Outside of work, Tina and her husband can usually be found on a sports field somewhere, cheering on their two kids.

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