While Mightycause makes online fundraising accessible and affordable, marketing your nonprofit and promoting your fundraising initiatives can feel like an uphill battle, especially when you’re on a shoestring budget. Advertising via print can quickly add up, and production for TV ads often requires a lot of time and overhead costs. 

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What’s even more frustrating is that it takes a significant amount of time for these kinds of marketing campaigns to mature until you see tangible and measurable ROI. Even if you have strong sources of funding, you’d likely rather invest your revenue into your programs than put it directly into marketing. That’s where Google Ad Grants come in!

As the world’s most popular search engine, Google has opened up the door to the expansive world of online advertising for nonprofits. Instead of spending your hard-earned fundraising money on marketing, you’ll receive grant money every month to put toward Google Ads. All you have to do is follow the steps to apply. Their ultimate goal is to help worthwhile causes increase their visibility online and reach a broader audience.

To help you fully leverage this opportunity, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know. Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • What Are Google Ad Grants and How Do They Work?
  • The Value of a Google Ad Grant for Small to Midsized Nonprofits
  • Types of Content You Should Promote
  • Things To Consider Before Applying For A Google Ad Grant
  • How To Successfully Manage and Maintain a Google Grant
  • Tracking and Measuring Your Google Ads Success
  • The Role of a Google Ad Grants Consultant

By the end of this guide, you’ll be equipped to apply for the program and start promoting your digital content through Google Ads. Let’s dive in!

What Are Google Ad Grants and How Do They Work?

Google Ad Grants is one of the products offered by the Google for Nonprofits program. It’s an extension of Google Ads and provides eligible nonprofit organizations with a $10,000 USD grant for Google advertising each month. Just imagine what that could do for your nonprofit!

The great thing about Google Ad Grants is that — unlike traditional grant programs — there’s no competition for funds. Instead, anyone who’s eligible and applies will be approved to participate. Interested nonprofits must apply for Google Ad Grants using the following steps: 

  1. Register for TechSoup. TechSoup partners with for-profit companies to provide nonprofits with free or discounted access to products and services. Verification usually takes around 2-14 business days. Once approved, they’ll provide you with a validation token.
  2. Create a Google for Nonprofits account. Visit the Google for Nonprofits homepage, click ‘Get Started’, and follow the steps to complete your request. As part of the process, you’ll provide them with the TechSoup validation token you received.
  3. Fill out your Google Ad Grants application. Once you’re approved for Google for Nonprofits, you can log into your account and fill out the eligibility form for Google Ad Grants. They’ll ask you for basic information like your nonprofit’s official name and website URL. Then, you simply wait to hear back!

From here, Google’s team will let you know whether or not you were approved via email. If you were approved, simply accept the invitation, and voila! You can start advertising your content through Google Ads for free.

What To Know As You Get Started

Before you start advertising on Google, there are some things that you should understand. Here’s a quick rundown of what to expect:

  • Your ads will be text-based. That means you won’t be using videos or images as ad creatives. Instead, your ads will be purely text-based and will only appear on Google search results pages, below the text ads of paying advertisers. 
  • You should put thought behind your keywords and bidding strategies. When you set up your campaigns, you must use keywords that target qualified prospects. You’ll also need to set your maximum CPC bid to $2.00 only. 
  • Google Analytics will give you insight into your performance data. Take advantage of free access to Google Analytics and its conversion tracking feature to help you analyze your data, optimize your campaigns, and track your conversions.

With a sufficient understanding of what you’re walking into when you’re approved, you can set your Google Ad Grant campaigns up for success! Bear in mind that you’ll likely need to devote time at least once a week to managing your account and optimizing your ads based on performance.

The Value of a Google Ad Grant for Small to Midsized Nonprofits

Are you new to the program and wondering whether the Google Ad Grant is right for your organization?

Many small and midsized nonprofits believe that larger nonprofits will automatically be given ad space over smaller organizations with less of an existing digital presence! We’re here to bust that myth. Any nonprofit — regardless of its size — can benefit from the program.

Here are the advantages for smaller and mid-sized organizations in particular, though:

  • You won’t waste your marketing dollars. For starters, when your nonprofit is approved to join the program, you won’t have to worry about squeezing your tight marketing budget for media spend. Google Ads will allow you to spend $10,000 on advertising your most important pages, on the house. 
  • You can expand your reach. Google Ads is truly a powerful marketing tool that will help you connect with the world, not only to share your stories but also to inspire supporters for your cause. Your Google campaigns will put your nonprofit in front of people who are searching for organizations like yours online. 
  • You can leverage ads to reach your broader goals. For one, the Google Grant will help you increase your online visibility. However, you can reach more strategic goals such as recruiting volunteers, increasing advocacy campaign participation, and converting users into donors.

With these benefits in mind, know that you will, however, need to think about who’s going to manage your campaigns for you. And while it is good to save some money by letting driven (yet inexperienced volunteers) set up your campaigns, you might actually want to consider hiring a Google Grants professional. We’ll explore the role a professional advertiser can play later on! 

Types of Content You Should Promote

One of the most useful things about the Google Ad Grant program is its flexibility. So long as you comply with the program’s guidelines, you can promote a wide range of your content through Google Ads.

Some of the most common pages that nonprofits promote using the grant include:

  • Donation pages to boost online gifts
  • Volunteer forms and information pages to boost recruitment numbers
  • Event registration pages to promote their events and increase guest registrations
  • Services pages to connect with potential beneficiaries
  • Educational content to position themselves as trustworthy authorities in the space
  • Digital petitions and similar pages to increase awareness for advocacy campaigns

Consider how promoting each type of content will play into your larger strategies. That way, your campaigns will have clear outcomes that you can measure, rather than blindly guessing whether your campaigns are helping.

Things To Consider Before Applying For A Google Ad Grant

Before you apply for Google Ad Grant, you should thoroughly review their eligibility requirements. Otherwise, you’ll waste your time applying just to get rejected.

Bear in mind that requirements vary by country, so be sure to review the exact rules for where you’re located. According to Getting Attention’s guide to Google Grants eligibility, here are the basic requirements that every organization must meet:

  1. You must be registered as a charitable organization in your country. For U.S. organizations, that means being registered as a 501(c)(3) organization with the IRS.
  2. You must not be a government-affiliated organization, a hospital or healthcare organization, or a school or academic institution. Note that if you are an academic institution, you can apply for Google for Education instead.
  3. You must be verified by TechSoup, a nonprofit international network of NGOs (non-governmental organizations) that provide support and tools to other nonprofits.
  4. You must agree to Google’s required certifications relevant to nondiscrimination and donation receipt and use.
  5. Your organization must have a high-quality website that complies with Google’s Web Policy. 
  6. After you have enrolled for Google for Nonprofits, you must also be approved for the Ad Grants pre-qualification process.

To review the exact requirements for your country, visit Google’s eligibility guidelines support page. Beyond this, note that there are also ongoing compliance requirements that you’ll need to meet after you’ve been approved.

How to Bring Your Website Up to Speed

As part of Google’s eligibility requirements, you need to have a well-organized website. During the application process, they’ll thoroughly evaluate your website to ensure that it features promotable content. The goal of this is to ensure that you’ll actually benefit from the program and improve the search experience for users.

Before applying, bring your nonprofit’s site up to code by adhering to these regulations:

  • Your site must have a clear description of your organization, its activities, and its mission.
  • It must have relevant and substantial content, updated information and events, clear navigation, and clear calls to action. 
  • Your site must have a quick load time.
  • Your site should not resemble a business or for-profit website. Any commercial activities must describe how they support your mission.
  • If you have ads on your website, you must ensure that they are relevant to your organization’s mission and must not be obtrusive to your website visitors. At the same time, you must not have Google AdSense hosted on your site or any other ad publisher or affiliate ad links.

For more information, review Google’s Web Policy for Ad Grants. Optimizing your site ahead of time will ultimately help you create ads that point to useful content and help you benefit from the program.

How To Successfully Manage and Maintain a Google Ad Grant

Checking your eligibility and applying for the program is the easiest part — even though it’s a very involved process! Maintaining eligibility and creating valuable campaigns is where it gets more challenging.

To stay eligible, you must comply with the Google Ad Grants Program Policies. You should also review the program’s Web Policy, Ad Grants Policy Compliance Guide, Account Management Policy, and Google Ads Policies as these are critical to maintaining program eligibility. 

Any account found in violation of these policies will be subject to automatic suspension without notification. If your account gets deactivated, your best bet is to reach out to a Google Ad Grants agency to help you get your account in line.

Setting Up Your Campaigns the Right Way

Setting up Google Ads campaigns might be a little tricky, especially if it’s your first time advertising online. There are so many things to consider when it comes to publishing a compliant ad: your keywords, text ad copy, landing page, campaign structure, and bid amount. 

To help you get up to speed with your campaigns, here are some important recommendations that you should follow:

  • Keywords: Don’t use single-word keywords or overly generic keywords. These can lead to unqualified prospects.
  • CTR: Maintain a 5% click-through rate each month. In other words, for every 100 people who see your ad, at least 5 should click the promoted link. Failure to maintain a 5% CTR for two consecutive months can result in temporary account deactivation.
  • Account structure: Set up campaigns with 2 active ad groups at minimum (if you’re not exclusively using Smart Campaigns). Ad groups should contain keywords around a specific theme. Then, include 2 ads with unique text in each campaign.
  • Conversions: Google requires you to have at least 1 conversion per month. A conversion can be a donation, event registration, volunteer signup, or any other goal you set. No conversions mean your ad’s keywords, copy, or landing page aren’t as effective as they could be.
  • Geotargeting: While not a specific requirement, geotargeting can help you deliver your ad to a more targeted audience. This feature allows you to only show your ads to people in a specific area relevant to your campaign. For example, let’s say you want to promote an event in a specific town. You can set your ad’s target location as that specific town and a specific radius outside the town, so only people who are close enough to attend will see the ad.
  • Sitelink Ad Extensions: Use at least 2 sitelink ad extensions. These links will appear right under your text ad and can take people to other relevant pages on your site.

Of course, if this is new territory for you, we recommend hiring a professional Google Ad Grants consultant who can set up, manage, monitor, and optimize your campaigns to get the best results. These individuals will also make sure that your ads stay compliant with relevant policies.

Tracking and Measuring Your Google Ads Success

Even once your Google Ad campaign is published, the work doesn’t stop! So that you get the most out of our Google Ad Grant and see the ROI that you’re looking for, you should consistently track and measure your results. Not to mention, Google requires you to have valid conversion tracking set up through Google Analytics.

 Let’s review several best practices for efficiently tracking and reviewing conversions:

  1. Create and fire your conversion scripts on pages where specific conversions happen. Use Google Tag Manager to manage all your tracking scripts so that everything is kept in one place.
  2. Choose the right conversion goals within Google Analytics. Google’s recommended monetary goals that you can set include donations, purchases, membership fees, and ticket sales. Their recommended non-monetary goals include email sign-ups, volunteer sign-ups, new membership form completions, information request submissions, calls to your organization, or time spent reading content on your website. 
  3. Set up eCommerce tracking when necessary. If you’re going to capture online payments (e.g. ticket sales), enable eCommerce tracking on your Google Analytics account.
  4. Integrate Google Analytics with relevant software. This might include your membership tools, payment gateways, and CRM.

Performance tracking is a vital part of successful Google Ad Grants management. Otherwise, how do you expect to know if your Google Ads are actually proving useful to your marketing? Now, let’s take a look at what you should do if your ads are underperforming.

Measuring Your Success

As we mentioned, having at least a 5% CTR is one of Google’s primary compliance requirements. Not only this, but a low CTR indicates that your ads aren’t up to par. That could mean a number of things, such as poor keyword choice, ad quality, or landing page quality.

Here are some ways you can comply with Google’s 5% CTR requirement and make sure your ads are actually valuable:

  1. Check the CTR (click-through rate) of your keywords. Remember, the higher the CTR, the more relevant your keywords are to the people who search for them. This metric also plays an important role in determining your ad quality score and how much you’ll pay for clicks.
  2. Check your Ad Quality Score. Google assigns a quality score that’s calculated based on expected CTR, ad relevance, and landing page experience. In other words, this will tell you if your advert and landing page are relevant to the search term that you’re targeting.
  3. Check your clicks. Though they don’t exactly determine your campaign’s overall performance, they will show you which of your keywords are the most popular to your target audience and how many actions can be attributed to those keywords.
  4. Check your keywords’ conversion rates and cost per conversion. These numbers will tell you which among your keywords gets the best response from your target audience.

There are several reasons why an ad might be underperforming. Following the steps above will help you draw conclusions as to why that might be happening and what you can do to optimize your campaigns.

The Role of a Google Ad Grants Consultant

We’ve shared a lot about the Google Ad Grant, and frankly, it can be overwhelming. That’s why we recommend having someone who will set up your campaigns and check in on progress.

However, we also understand that it’s not feasible for all nonprofits to devote a team member’s time to managing your account. Instead, consider hiring an experienced Google Ad Grants agency to manage your campaigns for you.

Someone who’s experienced will already know the ins and outs of advertising online, be aware of Google’s Ad Policies, and understand how to choose keywords and set bids. You certainly don’t want that $10,000 grant to go to waste!

Here are specific tasks that a Google Ad Grants agency might help with:

  • Google Ad Grants application. Your consulting agency can determine your eligibility and manage the application process for you. That way, you can get approved on the first try.
  • Campaign strategy. They’ll help you pick the right keywords for your cause, then develop ads that promote your most important landing pages.
  • Ad optimization. Experienced professionals know what it takes to create an eye-catching ad. Plus, they’ll monitor results once your ads are live and make adjustments based on performance.
  • Account reactivation. If your account is currently suspended, a professional can help you get it up to code, so you can start promoting your content again.

Ultimately, outsourcing the work to a third-party agency can eliminate the learning curve that comes with the program. That way, you’ll start seeing results much sooner than you would without expert help.

The Google Ad Grants program is a real game-changer for any organization. Putting thought into your campaigns and producing effective ads means you can effectively leverage the program to support your nonprofit’s goals.

So long as you comply with the program’s guidelines, you’ll continue receiving the grant each month. So what are you waiting for? If you’re ready to connect with a broader audience and get more people to support your cause, apply for the program now!

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