The Google Ad Grants Program gives eligible nonprofits the chance to advertise with Google Ads at no cost to the nonprofit. This program gives qualified nonprofits a budget of $10,000 per month  to promote their missions and initiatives on Google.com). That’s up to $120,000 a year in free Google search advertising. 

With a Google Ad Grants account, you create search ads to show on Google Search. These text-based ads are displayed on Google.com search results pages.

To qualify, nonprofit organizations must go through the application process, and to keep the grant they must follow the program requirements.

What is a Google Ad Grant?  

Google Ad Grants are a powerful digital marketing opportunity that can help your organization gain exposure, promote educational content, build thought leadership, and increase qualified website traffic. 

The grant offers account credits for Google Ads–Google’s targeted advertising service. When set up and executed correctly, Google Ads displays ads on their Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS) to people who are looking for keywords relevant to the advertiser’s work (as those are the people who would be most interested in the work your organization is doing) and drives them to the advertiser’s website.  

Google Ads (formerly known as Google AdWords) accounts offers a variety of advertising products, but the in-search text advertising option is the  only option available for organizations using the Google Grants program. Text ads on Google are priced using a Pay Per Click (PPC) model using a live auction.

Eligibility Requirements: What Type of Organization Qualifies for a Google Grant? 

Before you start your grant application, you first need to make sure that your nonprofit qualifies for the Google for Nonprofits Program and  Google Ad Grants Program. Your organization will need a 501c3 certification in order to apply and there are some restrictions on which type of organizations are eligible. 

A list of the organizations that do not qualify for a Google Ads Grant includes: 

  • hospitals
  • government entities
  • academic institutions (such as schools, universities, and nonprofits that sell courses or other types of educational services)

Though in general these types of nonprofits do not qualify, there are some gray areas so we encourage you to consult Google directly to see if you qualify for the program.

Getting Started: From Validation to Application 

Before you can start the application process, your qualifying nonprofit must first seek validation by a third party called TechSoup

Once your organization is successfully validated, you have the ability to join Google for Nonprofits. Then you can apply for the Google Grant. 

Site and Content Quality Impacts Google Grant Eligibility and Performance  

Qualifying organizations also must have a high quality website. For Google,“high quality” means the site is helpful or provides value to the user and that the site’s content demonstrates high levels of expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (E-A-T). 

If your website does not already feature a lot of high quality content, then you may need to focus your attention on creating and publishing high quality pages or articles on topics you want to drive people to using Google Ads before you begin the application process.

We’ve found that the more high quality content you have on your site, the better you will be able to fully utilize the $10,000 per month in free advertising

Keep in mind that Google Ad Grant dollars are allotted in $329 daily increments. Unused grant dollars do not roll over to the next day so if you don’t use it you lose it. 

How to Establish a Keyword List for your Google Ad Campaigns

Keyword Selection 

The first step towards building your Google Ad Campaign strategy is keyword research, luckily Google’s Keyword Planner is a free tool to use, and it’s awesome!

Begin by looking to see what search terms your website is already ranking for “organically” especially if you have invested time and resources into Search Engine Optimization (SEO). “Organic” search traffic refers to site visitors who found their way to your website, not from advertising, but from non-branded search engine results. Non-branded means the searchers were not looking for the name of your organization, they were searching for information about something related to your work and a piece of content you have published on your website came up on the search engine results page and they clicked on it. 

Certain keywords that are very relevant to your organization and your audiences will be incredibly difficult to rank for through SEO. Those keywords present a clear opportunity for success with Google Ads. 

The best way to evaluate keywords in Google Ads auction is to use free tools like the Keyword Planner. It’s very important that the keywords you bid on match the ad copy and the landing pages you’re targeting.

Monitor Results and Optimize Your Account on an Ongoing Basis

Once your ad campaigns are launched, you will need to pay close attention to your results. Google Analytics will provide data that will show you what is working. When you notice which search terms are leading to positive trends for your ads, you can then build new ad groups and new ads around those search terms to get more positive results. 

That is optimization.

Continually optimizing your ads will increase the quality score and lower your cost-per-clicks (CPC). 

Hire an Experienced Google Grants Consultant

Nonprofits can either go through the application process on their own or they can hire an experienced Google Grants Consultant. Our agency, JB Media, is one example of a service provider with expertise in helping nonprofits navigate the Google Grant application process and answer the application questions. We are happy to answer any questions you have about whether or not hiring a Google Grant consultant is right for your organization. Contact us with your questions.