Google Ad Grants – or Google for Nonprofits – is the worst-kept secret in the ad industry. Despite so many nonprofits being unaware of this spectacular offer, Google has still managed to grant over $9 billion in free advertising to more than 115,000 nonprofit organizations worldwide.

Incredible, right?

We thought so. Yet, we’re always surprised that nonprofits who contact us about pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and more haven’t heard about it. Though, we’re not as shocked as they are when they find out what they’re missing out on.

google for nonprofits, google ad grants, google grants for nonprofits, does google give grants to nonprofits, how to use google ad grants

Google grants for nonprofits are nothing short of revolutionary. The results are startling for nonprofits like charities and NGOs that take advantage of Google’s golden deal. These organizations can see a meteoric rise in site traffic and attention in a few short months. But only if they use Google’s free resources wisely.

What is Google for Nonprofits? How does it work? And who is it available to? That’s what we’re answering in this guide. We’ll cover everything you need to do to get started with Google ad grants.

Does Google Give Grants to Nonprofits?

Yes! Since 2003, the Google Ad grant program has generously given billions in ad support to nonprofits. The money provided can be used to promote their missions and initiatives within Google’s search results. That means anyone searching for related terms will find your nonprofit in the #1 position – right at the top of the page.

Needless to say, this is a spectacular opportunity. Companies spend thousands to capture the top spot through PPC or search engine optimization (SEO). Google is giving it away 100% for free.

The most important question is: who’s eligible for Google Ad Grants?

Eligibility requirements vary by country. The nonprofit should always be registered as a charitable organization in one of Google’s listed countries and a verified nonprofit organization by TechSoup or the local TechSoup partner.

In the US, organizations must be recognized by the IRS as “tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organizations formed for charitable, educational, religious, literary, scientific, or other tax-exempt purposes.” In addition, organizations, such as churches, are automatically considered tax-exempt. Finally, fiscally sponsored organizations are not eligible for the Google for Nonprofits program.

You can see all the full eligibility guidelines here.

You are not eligible for Google for Nonprofits if your organization is:

  • A governmental entity or organization
  • A hospital or healthcare organization (charitable arms or foundations associated with healthcare organizations are eligible).
  • A school, academic institution, or university (philanthropic arms of educational organizations are eligible). Learn more about Google for Education, Google’s program for educational institutions.

What is Google for Nonprofits?

In short, Google for Nonprofits is a pool of free cash available for eligible nonprofits to use to rise to the top of Google’s rankings. Organizations can access up to $10,000 per month of in-kind advertising. So long as that money is used to promote the nonprofit, Google has no other stipulations.

It’s truly game-changing!

Once an organization qualifies for the grant, there is no expiration date. Nonprofits must maintain their standing laid out in Google’s requirements, but that’s it. Endless free advertising, month after month.

Google Ads is the premier digital advertising platform. In 2021, Google was experiencing 7.81 billion daily searches – or approximately 2.85 trillion searches per year. That’s the biggest audience in history and allows mass marketing on a scale previously unknown.

Your ad will appear at the top of the search results page when a user conducts a Google search. These paid results appear both before and after the organic results – you’ll notice them due to the “Ad” marker next to the URL.

Like any other Google ad, you’ll need to follow the best practices to see the highest results. That can mean doing it yourself, but many nonprofits hire a professional Google ads company to manage their accounts. Considering you need to maintain a 5% click-through rate (CTR) each month and avoid the worst practices, hiring professional help can be key to staying qualified for the grant.

Getting Started with Google Grants for Nonprofits

You’ll need to complete five simple steps to get started with Google grants for nonprofits. Follow these steps to begin increasing your site traffic:

1. Review eligibility requirements

See the requirements listed above for further information on whether you’re eligible. You’ll need to review your country-specific requirements.

Learn more about Google’s eligibility guidelines.

2. Submit a request for a Google for Nonprofits account

If you meet Google’s eligibility requirements, you can submit a request. Go to Google for Nonprofits and click Get Started. You should then follow the steps advised. In the US, Google will send your details directly to TechSoup for verification. Outside the US, you’ll need to register directly with your local TechSoup partner – for example, in the UK, Ireland, and New Zealand, Percent is the local verifier.

See here for further information about getting verified.

3. Wait for verification

You’ll usually receive contact from TechSoup within 2 to 14 business days. TechSoup will request any additional information or documentation required to verify your organization.

If TechSoup or a local TechSoup partner has already verified you, you’ll need to use the validation token to request a Google for Nonprofits account. Find your TechSoup validation token by signing into your account – it should look something like 123c492@NonprofitName.

Your TechSoup validation token will expire after 60 days. However, you can always create a new validation token via your account.

4. Active Google Nonprofits products

After you’ve been fully verified, you’re ready to get started. You’ll need to activate which Google for Nonprofits products you wish to use. There are four primary Google for Nonprofits products you can use:

  • Google Workspace for Nonprofits. Helps nonprofits collaborate using business apps like Gmail, Docs, Calendar, Drive, and Google Meet.
  • Google Ad grants for Nonprofits. Reach donors, recruit volunteers, and raise awareness through in-kind advertising on Google Search.
  • YouTube Nonprofit Program. Tell your story through immersive videos to capture the attention of a global audience.
  • Google Earth and Maps. Track your organization’s impact through captivating data visualizations in Google Maps Platforms. You can help people locate resources closest to them.

5. Begin building your advertising portfolio

Activation is the last step before the plunge. Now it’s time to get creative. Whether you want to start creating compelling videos or generate site traffic through Google Ad grants, you’ve now got the tools to get the most from your Google for Nonprofits account.

You can explore Google’s video tutorials and how-to guides to learn more. Google Ad Grants Help Center also introduces the basic concepts behind creating grants – if it’s all a little overwhelming, you’re not alone. We’re always ready to help nonprofits explore the tools at their disposal. We’ll help you master Google Ad Grants to reach as many eager eyes as possible.

How to Stay Qualified for Google Ad Grants

While Google Ads Grants for nonprofits are always available so long as you remain eligible, Google doesn’t allow nonprofits to abuse their system. Organizations must comply with the Ads Grants policy, delivering high-quality ads to searchers.

Here are the rules you need to follow:

  • No single-word keywords permitted
  • No overly generic keywords permitted
  • No keywords with a quality score of 1 or 2 are permitted
  • Must maintain a 5% click-through rate (CTR) each month
  • Must have valid conversion tracking, if applicable
  • Must have at least 2 ads per ad group
  • Must have at least 2 ad groups per campaign
  • Must have at least 2 sitelink ad extensions
  • Must respond to the program survey

If you fail to meet these criteria, your grant will be removed, and you’ll be forced to pay for your Google Ads going forwards. Some of these criteria are quite strict, requiring the help of a professional Google Ads agency.

How to Use Google Ad Grants

Just like for any company, using Google Ad Grants is about maximizing your ad’s appeal. All the techniques are the same, whether you’re a business or nonprofit. Here are some of the top tips and tricks to try:

1. Optimize your keywords

Keywords are the bedrock of almost all online advertising. These are related to the terms users search for in Google. If a search term contains or relates to your keyword, you’ll compete with other advertisers on the price to appear.

That’s why selecting the right search terms is critical. You’ll need to balance a few factors: search volume, competitiveness, and cost. Ideally, you want to appear for low-cost, high-volume, and low-competitive keywords – that’s the golden goose.

Nonprofits have an advantage over other advertisers because they’re likely to have more money to spend. That means you can go after more competitive high-cost keywords. However, you should also consider lower-volume keywords with a higher search intent, where users are more likely to be interested in your mission. For example, choose “water pumps in Africa” instead of just “water pumps.”

2. Use negative keywords

Negative keywords are terms you don’t want to appear for. These keywords waste your ad budget with unnecessary clicks. You’ll need to review your monthly report for such keywords, adding them to your negative keyword list. The more negative keywords you accumulate, the more precise your ad becomes.

Negative keywords may be related to topics irrelevant to your nonprofit or outside the remit of your services – for example, if you specialize in relief for hurricane-afflicted people, you don’t want to show for anything related to tsunamis or earthquakes.

3. Sprinkle power words in your copy

Power words do what they say – they compel, energize, excite, and engage people to click on your ad. Words like “you,” “click,” “increase,” “hurry,” “quick,” or “opportunity” entice readers – we want to find out more.

Avoid overusing these words, or else you’ll sound hyperbolic. Less is definitely more. But sprinkling one or two inside your copy can significantly boost your click-through rate.

4. Include extensions

Ad Extensions increase the size of your ad on the page by including more information. Extensions include sitelinks, opening times, addresses, descriptions, and more. For no extra cost, nonprofits can achieve higher conversion and click-through rates.

Callout extensions, for instance, allow you to add another call-to-action to your ad. Whether you want someone to “learn more,” “donate today,” or “support the cause,” this simple extension can have an outsized impact.

5. Target specific locations

You don’t want to compete nationwide if you’re a local charity or nonprofit. Your efforts are local; your advertising should be too. That’s where geotargeting comes in. This feature allows you to adjust your bids to certain locations – it could be a specific country or even a state.

You’ll significantly boost your conversion rate, improve your ad’s precision, and receive a higher quality Score – a key factor determining the success of your ad. It’s a win-win technique!

Moreover, if you receive greater donations from a specific region, it makes sense to spend more in that location than elsewhere. Geotargeting allows you to customize your bids to increase their relevance.

6. Test your copy

Even the most seasoned copywriter doesn’t know how their work will be received. Sometimes a solid piece of copy flops – it happens. That’s why you should always perform A/B tests. Google allows you to try out different combinations of copy to see which variations produce the best results.

Experimenting with keywords, target groups, and regions will increase or decrease your interactions and CTR. While you’ll need to make a few educated guesses, sometimes a configuration can surprise you. See what works for you.

7. Focus on mobile search

Mobile is the future of search. Think about how often you look up information on your phone compared to on a desktop or laptop. For most people, the former outweighs the latter. Indeed, in 2018, 58 percent of website visitors used their smartphones.

You can create a specific Google Ads campaign for mobile – complete with new descriptions, landing pages, and more. You’ll be surprised how successful they can be.

Hire an Industry-Leading Google Ads Agency

Too often, nonprofits discover this phenomenal program yet fail to take full advantage. Here at Clicta Digital, we’re committed to supporting and helping nonprofits as they venture into the world of Google Ads. We’ve done it before.

In fact, as a 1% for the Planet member, we believe in the value of nonprofits – and businesses doing their part. We love unlocking the sensational benefits that come with Google Ad Grants and Google for Nonprofits.

Schedule a free consultation to discover the options available for your nonprofit. We’d be happy to explain what we can do for you!