Obtaining the Google Ad Grant is a key piece of many nonprofits’ digital marketing strategy, but keeping it is  just as important. Fortunately, staying in compliance with Google is easy as long as you know what to watch out for and the guidelines you should follow.

If your nonprofit has yet to unlock the power of the Google Ad Grant, then that’s where you should start. If you’re unfamiliar with it, the Google Ad Grant provides up to $10,000 in monthly ad credits, allowing nonprofit organizations to place targeted ads in search results. Ranking highly on Google can bring more traffic to your website,  empower your donors, recruit volunteers, and accomplish any other goals you might have set.

So once you obtain the Google Ad Grant, how can you hang on to it? We’ve put together this brief guide to share the basics of Google Grant compliance. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Keywords matter.
  • Maintain your account. 
  • Keep track of your conversions.
  • Complete the annual program survey.

Staying in compliance with the Google Ad Grant requires understanding how the program works and what Google requires from its nonprofit partners. However, maintaining compliance isn’t labor-intensive. With these tips, you’ll have everything you need to maintain your Grant. Let’s get started! 

Keywords matter.

Keywords form the foundation of your Google ad campaign strategy, but sometimes they can be the source of your compliance issues. Selecting strong keywords will help you avoid issues and allow your ad campaigns to rise through the ranks in search engines. So what makes an effective keyword for your campaign?

  • Don’t use single-word keywords. Single-word keywords are often too vague and  nonspecific to be meaningful for your search. In some rare cases, they are allowed, such as when the single-word keyword is specifically related to your brand or to a medical condition that your nonprofit works with. In most cases, using a detailed keyword will have better results.
  • Use keywords with a quality score of 3 or better. The quality score represents how well your keyword or phrase represents the content on your web pages and in your ads. If your keyword’s quality score is a 1 or a 2, Google will pause your ad or ask you to change it.  Ensure you create a keyword or phrase that scores highly from the beginning and save yourself time later.
  • Your keywords should be specific and relevant. If your keywords aren’t specific enough you won’t be able to attract the kind of visitors that you want. Try to think of what your ideal visitor would be searching for, and specifically target those keywords. The conversions you want are out there, you just need to help the right audience to find your content.
  • Build effective ads to keep up your minimum click-through rate. Your click-through rate is calculated by dividing the total number of people who have viewed your ad by the number of people who have clicked on it. If that rate is less than 5%, you run the risk of having your account suspended. To keep this from happening, build specific ads targeted toward audiences likely to respond.

Having strong keywords helps you to avoid the hassle of editing or deleting your ads to stay in compliance with Google. Additionally, your ads will be more effective overall. Spending a little extra time to make them the best that they can be from the start will save you time in the long run and will produce better results.

Maintain your account.

Staying compliant with Google’s regulations takes a little more than just using strong keywords in your ad campaigns. You must also keep your account active.

The best practice to help your Google Ads succeed is to use the integrated Google Analytics suite to monitor your ads’ performance over time. This will allow you to periodically improve or change your ads based on what you see working while showing Google that your account is active.

If you are frequently logging in to your account to create or alter your ad campaigns then keeping your account active should not be an issue. However, Google Ads work for you even when you aren’t actively working on them, and it can be easy for a busy nonprofit to forget to check in. Here are the minimum qualifications you will need to do to keep your account up to date.

  • Make sure to log in to Google Ads at least once a month.  For Google to see that your account is active, make sure that you log in monthly. Google periodically deactivates inactive accounts, and this will keep your account from being mistaken for one. 
  • Make occasional changes to show Google that you are using their services. This does not mean that you have to overhaul your ad campaigns constantly. Instead, make sensible changes a few times a month. If you use the Analytics data provided by Google, it should be easy to make small adjustments that will help to focus your ads.
  • Continue to create new ad campaigns whenever you need them. A great way to keep your account active is to keep building effective new ad campaigns as the need arises. Think about what your organization needs at the moment and build ads around those changes. 

As long as you put in some time each month to demonstrate that your account is active, then you should have no issues with Google. The best applications of the Google Ad Grant always include active management. It doesn’t need to be time-consuming, but it should be regular.

Keep track of your conversions.

Conversions are the heart of your Google Ad campaigns. A conversion occurs when a visitor to your site completes a desired action, such as signing up for your email list or making a donation. You decide which conversions matter and set up Google Analytics to track them, and this matters for your account.

Conversions can be a number of valuable actions, such as clicking on a contact form, making a donation, following a link to a volunteering page, and more. What matters is that you need to know which interactions mean the most to your organization, and then start to track them.

Integrating Google Analytics into your website was a necessary step in the application process for the Google Ad Grant, but simply having it doesn’t mean that you are making the most of it. You will need to build a set of tracked goals in Google Analytics that represents what you are trying to accomplish. Once set up, Analytics can even provide data on successful conversions such as where the visitors entered the site and the path they took to get to the goal page.

Make sure that as you set up your conversions you also categorize them correctly. If fundraising through a donation page is one of your conversion goals, then you need to designate it as the “purchase/sale” category in the conversion tracking section of Google Ads, so that Google can tell what is taking place. Even if it is unclear, do your best to categorize your conversion goals and Google will be able to correctly track them.

Google uses conversion tracking in Analytics to show that your ads are active and achieving results. Keeping track of the conversions that matter most helps to keep your account in good standing with Google and provides useful data that your organization can use to grow and improve. 

Complete the annual program survey.

In return for helping you to reach new audiences, Google asks that you help them to collect some data as well. When you sign up for the Google Ad Grant you will be given an initial survey to fill out. Each year they send out a new survey, and filling it out is a requirement for continued service as well.

Google’s surveys are easy to fill out and shouldn’t take a significant investment of time. Make sure that you enter your customer ID into the form so that Google recognizes that you have filled out the survey, and you have all you need.


The Google Ad Grant is a powerful tool in your digital marketing toolbox and it is well worth the effort to keep it active. Maintaining compliance with Google doesn’t take a significant investment of time or energy, but it is something that every nonprofit should consider. 

If your Google Ads account is suspended for inactivity or any other reason, don’t worry. You are not locked out of the Google Ad Grant forever. In many cases, the issues can be addressed and your account will be restored to service.

Although your Google Ad Grant can often be reactivated after being lost, prevention is far more effective. It should be easy to stay in control now that you know how to keep your account active and compliant.

About the Author

Grant Hensel is the CEO of Nonprofit Megaphone, an agency focused 100% on Google Grant Management for nonprofits. NPM is honored to manage the Google Grant for 370+ leading nonprofits worldwide and to be an inaugural member of the Google Ad Grant Certified Professionals community.

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