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Why Your Nonprofit Should Be Using Google Grants

What it is and why you want it

It’s hard to be visible online, especially in search results, without spending some serious money. How can your nonprofit get the attention it needs with little to no funds for paid search? Google Ad Grants! 
What are Google Ad Grants? Ad Grants offer up to $10,000  per month to qualifying nonprofits to increase their visibility on Google. Many organizations are unaware of this free resource (that’s why we’re here to help!).
There are plenty of benefits of advertising on the Google, the powerhouse of search. It’s free money to spend on advertising for your mission and programs. Create awareness of how you’re changing the world, attract new supporters and donors, and even recruit volunteers! Let’s get into the specifics.

How to apply

So how do you know if you’re eligible? First, organizations must have a Google for Nonprofits account and hold valid charity status (in the U.S. that means current 501(c)3 standing); agree to Google Grant’s certifications on how to receive and use donations obtained from the grant; and have a functioning website. Government organizations, hospitals, schools and the like are not eligible.


You’ll also need to create a Google Ads or AdWords Express account. The administrator of this should be the same for the Google for Nonprofits account mentioned above. Be sure to skip the billing section of Ad Grants and ignore requests for billing information. (Entering payment information signals that you want your free account to be a paid account.) But do select USD as your currency, even if your nonprofit is located outside the United States.


  1. Sign in to Google for Nonprofits.
  2. Click Sign up now.
  3. Click Enroll under “Google Ad Grants.”
  4. Follow the steps!

Then it’s just a waiting game; Google takes up to six weeks to review your submission.

Limitations with Google Grants

You’re probably thinking, “I knew it was too good to be true!” But in all honesty, the biggest limitation or drawback to the grant is that there is a max Cost Per Click in place – and that’s not a huge deal. You can work with a max CPC and still see great results.

It’s still free money, right?

But, yes, there are some restrictions.

As a nonprofit with a Google Grant, your daily budget has to be set at $329 for one campaign ($1,000 per month). If you’re running more than one campaign you’ll want to set a lower daily budget, like $50.

Your keywords must have a $2.00 CPC bid max. (Cost per click is the average amount you pay every time someone clicks on the ad.)

You cannot use Search Partners. That means no advertising on search partner websites such as YouTube. Be sure, when you’re setting up campaigns, to uncheck the box that says “Include search partners.” You’re not eligible for the Display Network either; ads can only be served on Set your campaigns to Search Network only and you’ll be in the clear!

With these restrictions it can be a little bit more challenging to manage a PPC account. Some groups will find it difficult to spend all that money (and others will have no trouble at all) but with some basic management and optimization you’ll be fine. Which brings me to the next point…

Nonprofit Digital Marketing Guide

Importance of monitoring your Google Ads account

Let’s talk management. Because it’s tempting, once you’ve gone through the set up process, to sit back and let Google take care of your ads. Remember, Google Grant recipients are simply receiving free Google Ads advertising. It’s up to you to build and manage your own account, just like paying advertisers.

If you want the ad groups to actually work for your nonprofit (lead to donations), you’re going to need to monitor them and make adjustments as needed. This might be editing or adding new keywords, adding extensions, or experimenting with ad copy.


Once you’ve been approved, it’s time to set up a campaign, or two! Here’s a short list of things to keep in mind as you navigate the wild, wild west of PPC advertising for nonprofits:

  • All ads must link to the approved nonprofit URL.
  • Ads must reflect the mission. So don’t be overly sales-y, unless 100% of products sold go to your programs and services.
  • Keywords related to asking for large donations (i.e. cars, or property) are not allowed.
  • Be sure to pick relevant terms. Get creative as you won’t be able to compete for a keyword that has, say, a $12 CPC with that $2 maximum in place. Try using longer tail keywords and add keywords that are merely related, rather than uber-specific. For example, you might be asking for monetary donations but you can add keywords around volunteering or your services as well.
  • Don’t go overboard with negative keywords. Sure, you want to block traffic that isn’t even a little bit related to your organization or website but refrain from adding too many negative keywords. Since it’s not your own money, you’re probably not as concerned with ROI as other advertisers and can relax a bit when it comes to ad performance.
  • Be proactive! Log in monthly. One motivator for doing this regularly is that accounts are subject to being paused without notification if the advertiser with a Google Grant doesn’t log in.

In a nutshell, always keep Pay Per Click best practices in mind.

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If you need help applying for a Google Grant or setting up and running Google Ads, don’t hesitate to reach out!

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