Questions & Answers. All you need to know about Google Ad Grants.

What is the Google Ad Grants program?

Google Ad Grants is a Google’s initiative launched back in 2003, that allows qualifying nonprofit organizations to get $10,000 USD of in-kind advertising every month. This free advertising credit can be used to promote your organization within Google search results. You can improve your brand awareness, recruit more volunteers, drive more donations, newsletter subscriptions or promote anything else that generates value to your organization.

Generally speaking, all 501(c)3 organizations with the exception of governmental entities, hospitals, and schools (their charitable/philanthropic arms are allowed) are eligible for Ad Grants. The program is open for dozens of countries and the eligibility requirements vary slightly in each country. The complete list of countries and details eligibility guidelines can be found here.

Philanthropy has always been central to Google’s values and mission. Google’s co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and their executive team wanted to find a way to share the power of search advertising with the nonprofit world. Google Ad Grants was created in 2003 with the mission to connect people to causes by providing Nonprofits with $10,000 per month in free Google Advertising.  Since launch, the Ad Grants Program has awarded nearly 115,000 Ad Grants and $8B dollars in free advertising to organizations in 50+ countries around the world.

Google Ad Grants campaigns work similarly to standard Google Ads campaigns frequently used by commercial advertisers. The principle of Google Ads advertising can be explained simply as follows:

  • The advertiser (your nonprofit) picks suitable keywords and sets campaign targeting (location, demographics, languages, etc.).
  • The advertiser writes compelling ad copy. It is recommended to highlight your competitive advantages and use some of the keywords used for targeting.
  • When people specified in your target audience search for selected keywords, your ad appears on the top or bottom of the Google search result page.
  • When your ad gets clicked, people are taken to your page and a certain amount gets deducted from your advertising credit. The actual amount is determined in an ad auction, where more competitive keywords are usually more expensive.

While each organization is different, these tips have proven to work in most accounts we’ve managed:

  • Experiment with bidding strategies
  • Follow all in-app and email notifications
  • Manage the account actively
  • Experiment with the website content and different landing pages
  • Follow all program updates and try new features
  • Track everything meaningful to your organization
  • Verify your hypothesis by hard data
  • Try commercial Google Ads as well as other channels, especially for display, video and remarketing campaigns

Here is the list of most important requirements to comply with:

  • Maintain a minimum click-through rate of 5%
  • Have no active keywords with a quality score of 1 or 2, single-word or overly generic keywords
  • Have advanced account structure with at least 2 active adgroups, each with at least 2 active ads included in every active campaign
  • Use at least 2 sitelink extensions in every campaign
  • Campaigns are only allowed to target areas served by the organization
  • Conversion tracking needs to be set up and at least 1 conversion per month needs to be recorded
  • All ads need to link to an approved domain that is secured by an SSL certificate

Google provides a comprehensive compliance guide with optimization tips here.

The Google Ad Grants application involves multiple steps. The entire process is done online and usually takes approximately 5-10 business days. The application steps are:

If there are any application problems, you will be able to fix them and apply again.

We were able to get 100% of eligible organizations approved. We offer free application assistance so please do not hesitate to reach out.

Google audits all grant accounts on an ongoing basis and notifies account admins of compliance problems. Time is given to the admin to bring the account to compliance, but if that does not happen, the account is automatically deactivated. Google also provides a handy compliance report updated in real-time. To prevent the account deactivation, I recommend you:

  • Monitor the compliance report regularly
  • Fix all compliance issues in a timely manner
  • Follow all program updates and changes in compliance requirements
  • Run a free compliance audit.

Don’t worry, almost every Ad Grants account can be reinstated. All you need to do is to fix compliance problems specified in the deactivation notification and reach out to the support team. As a Google Certified Professional organization with access to direct support, we are able to help you identify and fix the account deactivation swiftly. Please reach out for more details.

Ad Grants program only supports text ads. These ads appear within Google search results. Depending on an Ad Rank of an ad it appears on the top or on the bottom of the search result page.

Texts ad is the only ad format supported in Google Ad Grants program. Banners, videos, and other display formats are not allowed. Our suggestion is to use the Ad Grants account for search ads and create a standalone commercial Google Ads account for display campaigns. Both accounts can be linked to one Google Analytics account, that will centrally track campaign results. This setup maximizes the exposure and conversion efficiency while keeping the media cost on a reasonable level.

Low spend and click volume is a very common problem in Ad Grants account. This problem can be caused by a variety of different reasons that can be diagnosed during our account audit. The most common problems, that we see in audited accounts are:

  • Narrow keywords array
  • Ad texts with low relevancy
  • Missing conversion tracking setup
  • Missing ad extensions
  • Underutilization of automated bidding strategies

High grant utilization should not be the ultimate goal. Most advertisers want to use the full grant, which makes sense, as long as the high spend gets translated into relevant website traffic and conversions. Our job is to make sure you use as much of the grant as possible while maximizing the traffic quality and quantity.

No. The grant is provided in the form of free advertising credit, that can be used by eligible nonprofit organizations to run Google Ads search campaigns. The credit is distributed on a daily basis. The daily credit is $329, which totals roughly $10.000 per month. Because Ad Grant isn’t a cash grant, it cannot be used to pay agency fees. Because the entire media spend is covered by the grant, the agency fee is the only fee the nonprofit organization needs to pay when running campaigns with an agency. Our fees are calculated as a percentage of the total grant spend, which eliminates the risk of overpaying.

Yes, they absolutely are worth it. Google Ad Grants allow nonprofit organizations to run search campaigns to promote their cause, brand, events, raise money, recruit volunteers, and much more without paying the media spend. The program has a daily budget limit of $329, it only allows search ads and requires advertisers to comply with several requirements, which might make the campaign management challenging. When set up and managed properly, Ad Grants is a powerful tool that can either alone, or in conjunction with other marketing channels, significantly enhance the digital presence of any nonprofit organization.

The campaign impact is often hard to imagine for new advertisers. Each organization chooses its own keywords, writes its own ads, sets its own targeting, and has its own unique website so the campaign impact can vary greatly. When working with a client, our goals are, however, fairly consistent – maximize the click volume, the conversion volume, and the conversion value. To put it in numbers, our clients average:

  • $9.000 monthly grant utilization
  • 8% account-wide click-through rate
  • 5% conversion rate
  • 000 clicks per month

There are more options:

  • Google has a dedicated support team, that can be reached via phone, chat, or email. You can contact the support team from within your Google Ads account by clicking on the question mark icon and “Get help” option. Our experience with this support team is that the agents are usually not specialized in Ad Grants accounts and more complex account issues might thus be difficult to solve right away.
  • Ask the Ad Grants Help Community
  • Visit the Ad Grants Help Center
  • You can contact consultants certified by Google to help you identify the problem and get it fixed efficiently. We provide free initial consultation that can be used to solve account problems. Those consultations are led by our founder Peter Sima, who is also a Google Partners Certified Trainer for Nonprofits. He supports a large number of organizations and he will surely be able to help you out.
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