How to Apply for a Google Ads Grant for Your Nonprofit
Just as for-profit organizations are reaping the benefits of digital transformation efforts, so are nonprofits. Consider how membership management software makes everything from member communication, event planning and payment collection a breeze. Or content creation and image editing tools like Canva that make it easier to create branding materials and content. Thanks to the advent of digital tools, there are more efficient and less stressful ways to run a nonprofit.
Even when it comes to fundraising and marketing, nonprofits are seeing more and more digital options that don’t just reduce cost, but can also target the right people at the right time. Here, we take a look at one particular resource: Google’s ad grants for nonprofits. This program offers free online advertising for nonprofits, connecting eligible organizations with donors and volunteers who search for groups and causes similar to theirs.
If you think your organization can benefit from a Google Ads grant, then this article is for you. We’ll discuss everything nonprofits need to know about the program, from its benefits to the eligibility requirements to the application process.
What Are Google Ad Grants?
Google Ad Grants is a program designed for nonprofit organizations that want to improve their visibility on Google’s search engine.
Think about the last time you googled something. It’s likely that when you hit Enter, the first search result you got was labeled “Ad.” Not only did the company that paid for the ad turn up first among millions of results, but it was also able to get relevant information (and possibly a contact number and business address) across to a potential customer in seconds.
Through the Ad Grants program, Google offers qualifying nonprofits up to $10,000 of in-kind advertising each month on the Google Ads platform.
What Are the Benefits of Applying for a Google Grant?
Google is by far the most popular search engine in the world. Google holds over 92 percent of the global search engine market share. With Google Ads (formerly known as Google AdWords), businesses and organizations can have their ads displayed to users who search for related terms on platforms like Google Search and Google Maps. And with the Google Grant, nonprofits can do this for free.
So, what kinds of benefits can you get out of applying for an Ad Grant?
- Relevance: Your search ads will appear to users who are looking for organizations with causes similar to yours. This means that you can directly target people who are interested in what you do.
- Flexibility: With Google Ads, you can customize your campaign to focus on a specific group of people. You can target people based on several parameters, such as their location, interests, the devices they use, the platforms they access and more. Aside from this, you can also decide how much money to allocate for each campaign.
- Insights: Google Analytics and conversion tracking help you monitor how well your ads are performing. With the former, you can see what users do on your website after interacting with your ads. This helps you better understand what you’re doing wrong, what you’re doing right and what you can improve.
Of course, the program isn’t perfect. Just like any other grant, Google’s Ad Grant program comes with unique pros and cons.
Pros of the Google Ads Grant for Non-Profits
- It’s easily attainable: Unlike other grants, the Google Ad Grant doesn’t require applicants to submit a proposal detailing the impact the funding will have on the organization and its beneficiaries. You need valid charity status, a high-quality website that meets the policy for the Ad Grants, and approval from the Ad Grants pre-qualification procedure.
- It’s easy to manage: Although Google Ads has a bit of a learning curve, it’s not exactly rocket science either. If you or someone on your team is already familiar with digital marketing and running a website, it should take just a few hours to get the hang of Google Ads.
- It provides you with helpful documentation: Remember what we said about Google Analytics? Working with Google Ads gives you key insight into how users react to and interact with the messages you send across. Aside from this, Google also provides documentation for organizations using Google Ads, including blogs dedicated to nonprofits and success stories from organizations with good results from the grant program.
- It’s free!
Cons of the Google Ads Grant for Non-Profits
- Applying takes time: Applying for an Ads Grant is relatively simple, but it does take up a bit of time. You’ll need to apply for a Google for Nonprofits account first, then submit an Ads Grant eligibility form, then submit your activation for review. Again, it’s not that hard, but it will take time away from your other work.
- Maintaining a Google Ads account requires work: You’ll have to meet a few minimum requirements to maintain your account, including a minimum 5% click-through rate (CTR) each month. According to Google, CTR is “a good indication that users find your ads helpful and relevant.”
- You can’t run display ads with the grant: Unfortunately, Ad Grants participants are only allowed to run search ads with the monthly allowance.
How Much Can You Get from Google’s Ad Grants?
According to Google, qualifying nonprofits can access up to $10,000 each month in “search ads shown on Google.com.” This corresponds to a daily budget of $329. The budget for each Nonprofit account remains $329 per day, even if you run multiple campaigns.
Can Small Nonprofits Benefit from Google Ad Grants?
Yes, small organizations can definitely benefit from Google Ad Grants. In fact, Google debunks the myth that small nonprofits can’t compete with larger ones on Google.com.
According to the Google Ad Grants’ FAQ page, Google Ads “rewards relevancy.” So small local grantees who know how to use location-specific keywords may actually stand out more than larger organizations.
And suppose you’re worried about being overpowered by large groups, especially during giving season. In that case, Google advises smaller nonprofits to “invest in a paid Google Ads account to bid on competitive keywords and extend their reach.”
How to Apply for Google Ad Grants
Ready to apply? Here’s everything you need to know about the Google Grant application process:
1. Check Your Eligibility
Your nonprofit must first meet several eligibility requirements before you can sign up for a grant. To be eligible, your nonprofit must:
- Be verified as a nonprofit organization by TechSoup or your local TechSoup partner.
- In Canada, organizations must be one of the following:
- Tax-exempt nonprofit operating on a nonprofit basis for public benefit
- Federal not-for-profit corporation
- Provincial nonprofit
- In the US, you organization must be registered as a 501(C)(3) organization.
- In the UK, you must be a charity registered with the Charity Commission or have tax exempt status with HMRC to be eligible.
- Agree to the terms set by Google for Nonprofits.
- Have a high-quality website.
- Meet the program policies.
2. Sign Up for a Google for Nonprofits Account
Once TechSoup has validated you, you’ll be given a token that you’ll use to sign up for a Google for Nonprofits account. At this point, you should also have your Social Insurance (Canada)/EIN (for US-based nonprofits) number ready.
To sign up for an account, you must:
- Head to the Google for Nonprofits registration page.
- Agree to the non-discrimination statements.
- Input your TechSoup validation token.
- Provide the necessary information about yourself and your organization.
- Submit your application.
After you’ve done this, all you have to do is wait for Google to email you a confirmation!
3. Apply for the Grant
So you’ve received confirmation as a Google Nonprofit. Your next step is to enroll in the Google Ads Grant! Here’s how:
- Sign in to your Google for Nonprofits account.
- Select “Activate” under Google Ad Grants.
- Select the eligibility form. This link will bring you to an assessment, which should take just about 20 minutes to fill out. By filling out this form, you help Google understand your organization’s goals a bit more and thus make it easier for Google to help you!
- Go back to Google for Nonprofits, then click “Activate” under Google Ad Grants.
- Confirm that you have submitted the eligibility form.
- Select “Activate” and wait for Google to review your application.
- Receive email verification from Google within three days.
4. Set Up Your First Campaign
Once your grant is accepted, you can begin setting up your first campaign. Whether it’s your first time navigating Google Ads or you’ve used it before, Google has helpful educational resources you can refer to in case you feel lost.
Specifically, it has a detailed 10-video series on launching a successful digital marketing campaign with Google Ads! The videos cover topics like designing a digital marketing plan, creating effective ads, tracking conversions, sustaining your drives and more.
Tips For Maintaining Eligibility
Can your nonprofit lose its Google Ad Grants eligibility? Unfortunately, yes. To maintain your grant, you have to meet certain requirements every month, such as:
- A minimum 5% CTR: CTR is defined as the ratio of the number of clicks an ad gets to the number of times an ad appears (impressions)”. To achieve a 5% click-through rate, you need five clicks for every 100 impressions. As per Google, accounts that fail to meet the 5% CTR requirement over two consecutive months will be subject to suspension.
- A keyword quality score of at least 2: Quality score measures your ads’ quality compared to other advertisers. Scores range from 1 to 10, with the highest scores being awarded to the most relevant ads and landing pages.
- At least two ad groups for every campaign and at least two ads for each ad group: According to Google, an ad group contains “one or more ads that share similar targets.” Ad groups help you organize your ads under a shared theme, like a list of products or services you offer. So if, for example, you want to promote a donation drive for an LGBT community center, you’ll group keywords like “LGBT youth donations,” “LGBT community center,” “LGBT nonprofit.”
You also have to do the following:
- Link all the ads in your account to the approved URL submitted in your application.
- Log into your Google Account at least once a month.
- Maintain ads that fit with your nonprofit’s goals and mission.
- Avoid selling products or services that have nothing to do with your cause or your group. If you want to advertise the sale of a product, make sure 100 percent of the proceeds go to your cause.
- Do not display ads from Google AdSense or other kinds of affiliate marketing programs.
Apart from hitting these criteria, you can employ strategies to maintain your eligibility and improve the overall quality and efficacy of your Google Ads.
Effective ads are relevant ads. If you want people to click on your search ads, you have to make sure they’re relevant to users’ actual search terms.
For example, let’s say you want to target the keywords “decluttering ideas used clothes.” To attract users looking for ways to get rid of used clothes, you don’t want to post a generic ad like “Shirts4Shelters | Upcycled Blankets”.
This doesn’t provide an answer to the user’s query. Plus, it just reads like an ad for a linens company. Instead, you could use an ad like this: “Shirts4Shelters | Declutter Old Clothes & Provide Blankets To Shelters”.
Avoid Sweeping Statements and Catch-All Terms
When creating ads, you have to be specific – and thus mindful of the kinds of keywords you use. After all, if there are organizations with similar causes and events to yours, they will likely be using the same keywords as you.
Head terms (popular one to two word-keywords, like “fundraiser”) are more competitive and harder to rank for. While long-tail keywords (3 to 5-word keywords that are more specific) result in higher quality traffic. Plus, there isn’t as much competition. With less competition for keywords, you also end up spending less on ads.
So, for example, you’re holding a fun run. Don’t just use the keywords “race” or “marathon.” Use keywords like:
- Running charity events
- Charity marathons near me
- Fun runs near me
- Virtual runs in [location]
- 5k run for charity
- Marathon cancer fundraiser
- Autism awareness run
Think of Google Ads as a Tool for Conversion
Google search ads are more than just digital billboards – they are opportunities to convert users into new members, donors or event attendees.
Though the future of events post-COVID is still uncertain, it’s evident that people are eager to attend in-person or hybrid events again after a year of primarily online interactions. The game is to entice people to click “attending” to your event invite.
Google Ads can be an excellent tool for getting the word out, but they have to go hand-in-hand with a well-designed website. Think of it this way: your Google Ads should successfully direct traffic to your site, while your site should successfully convince people to make a reservation for your event.
Do You Think Google Ads Grants Are for You?
Google Ad Grants are designed to give nonprofits a little bit of help with their marketing. If you’re one of the many small nonprofit organizations out there struggling to get donors, volunteers, and event attendees, these grants may be just what you need to get your message in front of more people.
We hope this guide has helped you decide whether Google Ads Grant is for you. For more insights and tips on marketing your nonprofit, stay tuned to our blog. And if you’re looking for web-based software that can help you manage your organization better, try MembershipWorks.