By Oskar Sznajder, Co-founder of Webup! – a Google-certified digital marketing agency focused on the Google Ad Grants Program and recommended 600+ clients.

In today’s digital age, nonprofit organizations are increasingly relying on online platforms to reach a wider audience and fulfill their missions. Google Ad Grants is a program that offers a unique opportunity for nonprofits to harness the power of Google Ads, providing them with up to $10,000 per month in free advertising credits. This substantial budget can significantly enhance a nonprofit’s ability to promote their causes and initiatives.

In this article, we delve into the Google Ad Grants program, discussing what it is, who is eligible, the application process, creating your first campaign, and going through a Google Ad Grants policy checklist to make sure your account is compliant and would not be blocked.

If you’re using Google Ad Grants or planning to launch your first campaign in 2024, join our Google Ad Grants International Facebook Group where you can connect with like-minded organizations, share insights, and learn from the experiences of others in the nonprofit sector.

For personalized guidance tailored to your nonprofit’s specific needs, schedule a free consultation with a Google Ad Grants Specialist at Webup!.

What is Google Ad Grants?

Google Ad Grants is a philanthropic initiative by Google that provides nonprofit organizations with free advertising credits of up to $10,000 per month on the Google Ads platform. The program allows nonprofits to display their ads on Google Search results pages, potentially reaching millions of people interested in their causes. Essentially, it’s an in-kind donation from Google to help nonprofits raise awareness, attract volunteers, and drive donations.

Which Organizations are Eligible?

Nonprofits and charities in over 50 countries can be eligible for Google Grants.

In the United States, organizations must be registered with the IRS as exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the US Internal Revenue Code or be a group exempt organization with proven affiliation to a central nonprofit that has 501(c)(3) status.

In Canada, organizations must be registered as a Charity with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) or fall under categories such as a Nonprofit operating entity with tax exemption, Federal nonprofit corporation, or a Provincial nonprofit.

If your organization operates in a different country, review the Google Ad Grants Eligibility Guidelines.

The Application Process

Getting started with Google Ad Grants is a relatively straightforward process. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you navigate the application process:

1) Request a Google for Nonprofits account

After making sure your organization is eligible, visit the Google for Nonprofits website and request an account by clicking on “Get started.”

2) Wait for verification

Most requests for a Google for Nonprofits account will be reviewed within 2-14 business days. Google collaborates with a validation partner, Percent, to verify organizations for Google for Nonprofits. They may reach out to you for additional information or documentation to verify your organization and your affiliation with it.

3) Activate Google for Nonprofits Products

Once your organization has been verified, you can activate various Google for Nonprofits products, including Google Ad Grants, Google Workspace for Nonprofits, the YouTube Nonprofit Program, and Google Earth and Maps credits.

4) Activate Google Ad Grants

To activate Google Ad Grants, click on “Submit activation request” to initiate the activation process. Your activation request will be reviewed, and you’ll receive an email with further instructions. Typically, the review process takes around 3 business days.

5) Add additional domains (if applicable)

If your organization operates using multiple domains, it’s important to ensure that all of them are added individually. Note that subdomains are automatically accepted once the main domain is approved. For more detailed information on how to accept additional domains, see Webup!’s Website and Domains Guide for Google Ad Grants.

If you encounter any questions or difficulties during the verification or activation process, don’t hesitate to seek assistance from the Google Ad Grants International Facebook Group or connect with a Google Ad Grants Specialist at Webup!.

How to Create Your First Campaign

Creating your first Google Ad Grants campaign is an exciting step toward expanding your nonprofit organization’s reach. To ensure a successful campaign launch, follow the key steps below.

Set Up Conversion Tracking

Before diving into campaign creation, it’s crucial to have conversion tracking in place. This is not only a best practice, but also a requirement of the Google Ad Grants policy. Valid conversion tracking can help you remove a cost-per-click (CPC) bid limit of $2 USD because if you choose the “Maximize Conversions” or “Maximize Conversion Value” bid strategy for campaigns, the limit does not apply. Learn more about setting up conversion tracking, see Webup!’s Conversion Tracking Guide for Google Ad Grants.

1) Campaign objective

When creating a campaign using Google Ad Grants, ensure that you set it without a specific objective.

A screenshot of Google Ad campaign objective dashboard.

2) Campaign type

Select the “Search campaign” type. Google only allows Search campaigns for Google Ad Grants accounts.

A screenshot of Google Ad campaign typee dashboard.

3) Bidding

For newly-added campaigns, set the bidding strategy to “Clicks” with a CPC (cost-per-click) bid limit of $2 USD per click. Once your campaign has generated at least a couple of conversions each month, consider switching to the “Maximize Conversions” bid strategy for better optimization.

A screenshot of Google Ad campaign bidding dashboard for nonprofits.

4) Networks

Be cautious not to choose either the Search Network or Display Network options for your Google Ad Grants account. 

A screenshot of Google Ad campaign search network dashboard for nonprofits.

5) Locations and languages

Configure your campaign’s location and language settings according to your audience specifications. Avoid setting the targeting to “All countries and territories” as this is not allowed within Google Ad Grants accounts.

A screenshot of Google Ad campaign bidding and location dashboard for nonprofits.

6) Add keywords

When adding keywords to your campaign, avoid using single-word or overly generic keywords. Instead, focus on specific and relevant keywords related to your nonprofit’s mission. Google’s Keyword Planner can be a valuable tool for finding popular keywords in your niche. For example, if your nonprofit is centered around adoption, consider incorporating keywords like “child adoption” or “adopt a child”.

A screenshot of Google Ad campaign keyword planner dashboard for nonprofits.

7) Headlines and descriptions

To maximize the effectiveness of your ads, make sure to utilize all available resources. Add all 15 headlines and 4 descriptions to your ads. This approach provides a variety of ad combinations and increases your chances of capturing your audience’s attention.

8) Ad assets

Complying with the Google Ad Grants policy, your campaigns should include a minimum of four sitelink assets, two callout assets, and one structured snippet asset. These additional ad elements can enhance your ad’s visibility and convey more information to potential supporters.

9) Budget

Set an appropriate budget for your campaign. We recommend starting with an initial budget of $329 USD per day, which is the daily spend limit for Google Ad Grants accounts. As you expand your campaigns and maximize the $10,000 USD monthly grant limit, you can adjust your budget accordingly.

10) Adjust campaign structure

To ensure compliance with Google’s policy, consider adding more ad groups and ads within each ad group. Each campaign should have at least two active ad groups, and each ad group should have at least one active ads. This structured approach not only aligns with policy requirements but also allows you to target different keywords and audience segments effectively.

By following these steps, you can set up an effective Google Ad Grants campaign that aligns with the program’s policies and best practices. Keep in mind that continuous monitoring and optimization are key to ensuring your campaigns achieve their intended goals.

This free webinar on May 21 is ideal for nonprofits that want to learn how to effectively set up, manage, and optimize Google Ad Grants campaigns. With expert insights from Webup!, this webinar will guide you through every critical aspect of the program. Learn more and register!

A promotional graphic for a Google Ad Grants for Nonprofits webinar by Nonprofit Tech for Good and Webup!

Google Ad Grants Checklist

Active management and continuous monitoring are key to maximizing your budget spend and conversions for your nonprofit, as well as making sure the account operates in compliance with the Google Ad Grants policy.

To streamline this process, consider using PING which monitors, detects and alerts issues that may arise within your account and help your nonprofit maintain a healthy and compliant Google Ad Grants account. 

1) Account performance

To maintain a well-performing Google Ad Grants account, keep the following in mind:

  • Have at least one active campaign on the account
  • Maintain a CTR of at least 5%.
  • Aim for a 100% Optimization Score with no recommendations pending.

2) Campaigns

For effective campaign management, adhere to these guidelines:

  • Ensure each campaign has a minimum of 2 active ad groups and 2 active ads within each ad group.
  • Include at least four sitelink assets, two callout assets, and one structured snippet asset in each active campaign.
  • Avoid setting location targeting to “All countries and territories” to align with Google Ad Grants policies.
  • Adjust your budget to $329 per day if you’re not maximizing the $10,000 monthly limit.
  • Set bidding strategy to “Maximize Clicks” with CPC limit of 2 USD, or “Maximize Conversions”/ “Maximize Conversion Value” if you record conversion on the account.

3) Keywords

To maintain policy compliance and prevent Google from blocking your account, follow these essential keyword guidelines:

  • Ensure that each ad group contains between 15 and 30 keywords to maintain a balanced and targeted approach.
  • Avoid Single-Word Keywords unless they fall within allowed exceptions.
  • Minimize Repetitive Keywords: Avoid using the same keywords across multiple ad groups or campaigns within your account. Maintain keyword relevance to enhance campaign effectiveness.
  • Quality Score Consideration: Pause all keywords with a quality score below 3 to improve ad performance and maintain account’s compliance.

To simplify keyword management, PING will provide your nonprofit with weekly notifications if any errors or issues related to your keyword settings are detected. 

4) Ads

  • Each ad should make full use of all 15 headlines and 4 descriptions, providing comprehensive information to engage your audience effectively.
  • Disapproved Ads: Pause all disapproved ads to prevent any potential policy violations and maintain ad quality.
  • Adjust ad type: previously used expanded text ads are no longer supported by Google. While they may still exist in your account, they will no longer generate results. Be sure to verify if old ad types have been replaced with the new responsive ad format to ensure continued ad performance.

5) Landing page

  • Verify that all domains and subdomains linked to your account have active SSL certificates and are free of server errors, such as 404 Not Found or 500 Server Error.
  • Evaluate your landing page’s performance on both mobile and desktop versions using the Page Speed Insights tool. Aim for good scores to provide a seamless browsing experience.
  • Confirm that conversion tracking is correctly set up for each domain used in your account and that it is actively recording conversions.

For ongoing landing page performance monitoring, PING provides weekly alerts to help ensure that your landing pages contribute to the success of your Google Ad Grants campaigns.

Check to see if your account is compliant Google Ad Grants Policy with PING!

PING is a free audit tool designed to help nonprofits ensure compliance with Google Ad Grants policies. By using this tool, you can easily identify and rectify any issues that may arise in your ad campaigns, ensuring your organization continues to benefit from the program.

A screenshot of of PING.NGO landing page for nonprofits