Google Ad Grants for Nonprofits and Charities

Neira Hadziedhemovic
March 11, 2021 5 min read

Google Ads has helped more than 20,000 nonprofits across 50 countries by giving them access to $10,000 USD (around £7,500) of in-kind advertising every month for text-based ads. This program is designed to help organisations promote their missions and initiatives on Google Search pages at no cost at all! To qualify, companies must go through the application process, and to keep the grant they must follow the program details.

The steps for getting a Google Ad GrantSource: Google Ad Grants


Eligibility requirements

Who can apply for the Google Ad Grant?

Google Ad Grants are only available for nonprofits who: 

  • Are registered with the Charity Commission or have tax-exempt status with HMRC; 
  • Acknowledge and agree to Google Grant's required certifications; 
  • Own a high-quality website with a clear description of your organisation, mission, and activities. 

However, there are some exceptions. Government bodies, schools, academic institutions, and health services may not apply. 

Can you lose your Google Ad Grant eligibility?  

Your grant eligibility can also be lost if you don't follow certain criteria. Any account found in violation of program policies is subject to automatic suspension without notification. Therefore, it's important to log into your account every month and make sure the policies are being adhered to. The Google Ad Grants policy includes the following: 

Mission-based campaigns policy

Keywords in your Ad Grants account must reflect the primary mission of your organisation. They also must be relevant to your nonprofit's program and services, and provide a good experience for the users. Branded, generic and single word keywords like ‘best videos’, ‘cool apps’, ‘e-books’, ‘download game’ and ‘free books’ are not permitted. The same applies to names of organisations, events and places. The Ad Grants mission-based campaign policy also requires keywords to have a quality score of 3 or higher.

Website policy

Your organisation must own a high-quality website with a clear description of your organisation, mission, and activities. Content on your website must be unique to your organisation and your domain must be secured with HTTPS.

The commercial activity must not be the purpose of your website. That means you are not allowed to sell products and services, offer consultations, generate leads, and provide referrals. Your website may not host Google AdSense ads or affiliate advertising links.

Account management policy

Ad Grants accounts must have conversion tracking set up and proper location settings (geo-targeting). They must have at least 2 active ad groups. Each group needs to contain a set of closely related keywords, 2 active text ads, and 2 unique sitelink ad extensions.

If your campaign doesn't use smart bidding, you must maintain your Click Through Rate (CTR) at a minimum of 5%. If the CTR requirement isn't met for 2 consecutive months, your account will be temporarily deactivated. 

Steps to apply for Google Ad Grant 

When you're officially pre-qualified, it is time to create an effective campaign that will boost your charity's presence. Structuring your account well is important for serving the right ad in front of the right person at the right time.

Make sure your account has proper location settings, meaning your ads will only serve searchers in locations relevant to you. In case you are an organisation with different services locally and nationally, you should separate campaigns by geographic area. That way, your users will benefit from your services in their location. 

To satisfy Google Grant's policy requirements, you need at least two ads and a minimum of two ad groups. Every ad group should be focused on a specific topic and set of keywords.

Keyword selection

In terms of keyword selection, be sure to pick relevant search terms and match types. Google's official tool, Keyword Planner, can come in quite handy. It can help you find related keywords and show you statistics on how they might perform in the future. Adding broad match-type keywords will give you better visibility, bringing you more impressions and potential clicks.

Google also recommends using negative keywords liberally and on an ongoing basis. That's how you ensure your ads remain highly relevant and effective at directing users to your organisation.

Ad setup 

Within every ad group, craft your message. Write at least 2 compelling ads that give potential volunteers and donors reason to visit your site. Recently, Google made Responsive Search Ads (RSA) their default type in a search campaign.

Now it's recommended to have one RSA with multiple different headlines and descriptions. The Google algorithm will mix and match them in an effort to create the highest possible CTR for you. 

CRT can also be improved with extensions: 

  • Sitelink extension will take people to specific pages on your site; 
  • Callout extensions are ideal for things like your charity reg number, the tagline of your organisation, and contextual information; 
  • Call extensions will display your phone number and encourage people to call your organisation. 

Conversion tracking

To measure the success of your campaign, it's mandatory to set up conversion tracking within three months. You will be able to track the following:

  • your donations
  • purchases
  • ticket sales
  • membership registrations
  • email and volunteer sign-ups
  • new membership form completions
  • petitions signed
  • quizzes completed
  • information request submissions
  • calls to your organisation
  • engagement with content on your website.

Ready to apply for your Google Ad Grant?

The Google Ad Grants program is a great way for your organisation to gain visibility, attract more donations and recruit staff and volunteers. However, it's important to remember that the real success of your campaign is determined by ongoing optimization. This is not a 'set and forget' activity. To ensure you get the most from your grant now and in the years to come, optimise your ad account on a weekly basis. 

If you need any help applying for the Google Ad Grants program, as well as setting up and managing your campaign, digital agency GRM Digital is ready to help you!

Written by Neira Hadziedhemovic

Paid Media