Google Ad Grants for Nonprofits – A Guide
Since 2003, Google has offered its Google Ad Grant program to help nonprofits communicate, grow, recruit, fundraise, and more. Over the years, the Google Ad Grant program has become a powerful tool propelling many nonprofits forward.
To take advantage of this amazing opportunity, nonprofits need to understand how the program works, how to acquire the grant, how to manage it, and how to use it to its highest potential. To help guide nonprofits through this process, we’ve created this guide compiling everything you need to know to utilize the Google Ad grant program to propel your nonprofit to its goals.
Google Ad Grants provide qualifying nonprofits with up to $10,000 per month in google search ads. Although many nonprofits won’t need this amount, this considerable ad amount affords nonprofit organizations an incredible opportunity to increase their reach and grow their online audience.
At VAUX, we love sharing the Google Ad Grant program with nonprofit organizations and to help them understand the benefits available to help their organization. As a full-service web and digital agency, we can offer implementation and support to help nonprofits take full advantage of the program. Contact us for a free consultation to learn more about Google Ad Grants can help your organization.
What is the Google Ad Grant?
We think the Google Ad Grant program is one of the best thing to happen to the nonprofit community. Nonprofit organizations can use it to grow their website traffic, increase their audiences, to improve their organizational reach, and more. The Google Ad Grant is a powerful resource that can change the trajectory of an organization.
The Google Ad Grant Program helps nonprofits share their causes with the world by providing qualifying nonprofits with access to up to $10,000 a month in search ads shown on google.com. With 5.6 billion google searches conducted per day, as people search for nonprofits like yours, your ad is shown highlighting your cause and your organization. Google created this program to give nonprofits the opportunity to reach new audiences online and expand the impact they are making in the world.
When searching on google.com, you may notice the top few search results are marked with “ad”. These results are google ads that organizations have paid to display on the search terms you used in your search. Paid google search ads like these are a great way for organizations to “cut through the clutter” of google searches and present their offerings at the top of the search results page. Ads like these are big business with the world’s top companies spending millions each year on search advertising.
A Google Ad Grant gives your nonprofit organization a $10,000 budget each month to use on these search ads. Imagine your organization’s ad displaying at the top of a “nonprofits near me” search. As people click on your ad, they are taken to your website to learn more about your efforts. Search ads help secure high-ranking search results for your organization which you can use in various ways to reach your goals.
As you can see, this program provides a significant advantage to nonprofits like yours. $10,000 per month is free search ads is a lot – easily enough to make the average for-profit organization jealous of this opportunity available only to nonprofits. Utilized correctly, this $10,000 can make a significant impact on your organization’s ability to share your cause with the world.
Is your nonprofit eligible for a Google Ad grant? Here’s a list to help you determine if you qualify:
- You must be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in the United States or hold a similar status in one of the eligible countries. See which countries are currently eligible here.
- Your organization can not be a hospital, a school or college, or a governmental institution. Philanthropic arms of educational institutions may still be eligible.
- You must have a website that is hosted on your own domain.
- Your website must have a SSL certificate installed.
- You must agree to the terms of service for Google for Nonprofits and Google Ads.
If you meet these criteria, your organization is eligible for the Google Ad Grant program.
How the Google Ad Grant Can Help Your Nonprofit
If your organization qualifies for the Google Ad Grant, we feel strongly that you should consider spending the time and energy to apply and get started utilizing this great resource. Here a some reasons why:
Acquire More Visits to Your Website
Advertising your organization on google search presents your programs, news, events, and opportunities in front of people searching for nonprofits like yours. When people engage with your ad and are taken to your website, you have new opportunities to share who you are and what you do. The additional website traffic from your google ads provides an ongoing opportunity to expand your reach. Your information is presented at the top of google searches to those who are most likely to engage with your cause.
Reach New Audiences That May not be Familiar With Your Organization
Reaching people through google ads gives your organization the opportunity to connect with whose who are interested in your cause, but not be aware of your organization. People often use google search to find more information about a topic they are interested in or to find answers to a question they have. Through the top-of-page search results google ads provide, searchers of topics relevant topics discover your organization and your work. Without these search ads, you may not connect with these audiences.
Share Donor Opportunities with People Looking for Them
People are looking for organizations devoted to the causes they are passionate about. Often people aren’t aware of all organizations committed to these causes. Google Ads give your organization the opportunity to simply present donation and volunteer opportunities and to connect with those looking for organizations like yours. Reaching people looking for these types of opportunities can lead to more direct and more immediate involvement in your work.
Increase Your Marketing Audiences
Once new audiences visit your website through clicking your ad, you have the opportunity to present them with additional resources, programs, and opportunities your organization provides. Do you have an email newsletter? Ask them to subscribe. Are you in the middle of a donor campaign to raise funds for a project? Ask them to consider participating. We’re all aware that to market successfully, we need to get our messaging in front or larger audiences – Google Ads provide an efficient and ongoing way to increase your marketing audiences.
The Google Ad Grant program can be incredibly valuable to nonprofits of all sizes. You don’t have to be a huge organization to benefit from the help that Google Ads will provide. We think Google Ad Grants are especially powerful for smaller or newer nonprofits looking to level the playing field with nonprofits that have a lot more resources available to them.
How to Utilize the Google Ad Grant
When developing a strategy on how to best utilize the Google Ad grant program for your organization, we encourage you to identify goals that match your mission. Each organization should utilize their $10,000 of monthly search ads differently. Here are the steps to get started:
Acquiring the Grant
Once you have verified your organization is eligible for the Google Ad Grant, there are a few things you need to do before you are ready to complete your application.
- Register your organization with Techsoup.org. Techsoup provides discounts and other services for nonprofits along with a validation token that Google uses to verify your eligibility to the Ad Grant program.
- Use your Techsoup validation token to enroll in Google for Nonprofits
- Setup Google Analytics on your website. Google Analytics is a great tool to learn more about the people who are visiting your website and the service must be added to your website before applying to the Google Ad grant program.
You are Now Ready for the Google Ad Grant Application Process
- Submit your website to Google for review
- Create your google ads account to submit for approval
- Setup conversion tracking on your website using Google Tag Manager. Conversions are trackable action that users can take on your website. Google Ads uses these conversions to optimize your ads – displaying the right ads to the right people for the best results.
Getting Started with the Google Ad Grant
Once you have acquired the grant, its important that you are set up to use it to its fullest potential. When getting started, it’s less important to focus on using the full $10,000 amount and more important to focus on creating quality ads that get the results you’re after. Many nonprofits don’t use the full amount each month but still realize amazing results. Your monthly ad credits don’t roll over each month, so it’s important to create effective ads that produce results.
- Run 3-5 campaigns – You can start with just a single campaign, but as your grow your google ad account, 3-5 campaigns allow you run ads around a variety of messages without being overcomplicated to manage. Running multiple campaigns also gives you the opportunity to use more of you monthly budget as some campaigns perform better than others.
- Focus your ad groups – Ad groups target a group of keywords related to your campaign. Often you will have a variety of messages per campaign. For example, a “volunteer” campaign may include various types of opportunities. Creating different ad group to target the various volunteer opportunities is a good strategy. Be focused in choosing your keywords. Select closely-related keywords and that target a wide variety of related phrases.
- Use at least 1 Responsive Search Ad per group – Each ad group should have at least 3 ads, with one Responsive Search Ad. RSA’s allow you to use a variety of different headlines or descriptions, which Google will algorithmically mix and match in order to create the best possible click-through rate for you. Setting up an RSA can take a little more time than an ordinary ad, but it can be well worth it in terms of results.
- Experiment with different headlines and descriptions – Google gives you a lot of options to use various headlines and descriptions to create multiple ads focused on the same goal. Try to use as many combinations as possible to give your ads the best chance to succeed.
- Use ad extensions as often as possible – Use callout extensions (short, attention-grabbing phrases beneath your ad), sitelink extensions (additional links to other pages on your website), and call extensions (clickable phone numbers and allow mobile users to call with the press of a button) when possible.
Now that you’ve got your ads account setup and your ads running, here are some additional tips to help you get the full potential out of your Google Ad Grant.
Tips for Using the Google Ad Grant to it’s Full Potential
- Make sure you website is optimized for Google Ads – Once those who have clicked on your ad are on your website, it’s important to make sure the experience they have is a positive one. Make sure your website is ready to take advantage of the new visitors with the points below:
- landing pages – “landing pages” are pages that are built specifically with a marketing purpose in mind. Landing pages are different than the regular pages of your site that are usually built for more general purposes. For example, if you have a “donation” ad campaign, it’s better those who click on these ads to a donation page than it is to send them to your home page. While creating landing pages for all your campaigns may not always be possible, it’s a good idea to make sure that they content your visitors see is related to the information they clicked on in the ad.
- Make sure your site is updated regularly – As you will now be having new audiences come to your website, it’s important to make sure they are seeing updated content that reflects your organization today.
- CTA’s (Calls to Action) – Once people are at your website, it’s important that you suggest the actions you’d like them to take by using clear and obvious calls to action. Most commonly, CTA’s are buttons, forms or pronounced links on your website. Since these are most often related to your conversion tracking, make sure they are thought out, intentional, and easily accessible to visitors.
- SSL – It’s vital that your website is secure and has an SSL certificate installed.
- Mobile-friendly – Around 50% of internet traffic comes from mobile devices. While your traffic percentage may not align with this web-wide statistic, a large number of your visitors will be experiencing your website on a phone or tablet. Make sure your website displays well on these devices or you may quickly lose the visitors your Google Ads provide.
- Google Analytics – Make sure Google Analytics is set up on your website to view and analyze the information about the traffic you’re getting on your website. This data will help guide future content and campaign decisions for your organization.
- Google Tag Manager – Make sure Google tag Manager is installed on your website to appropriately track your conversion actions. Not only does Google Ads use these conversions to optimize your ad campaigns, but this data is another great tool for decision making down the road.
- Keyword Research – It’s important to know your audience and what they are searching to find the information you provide. Understanding how your audience is searching for you will allow you to shape your content around their needs and how they’re searching for information. While simply typing in relevant keywords in google.com can provide an excellent start, here is a guide to keyword research from HubSpot that will get you started.
- Monitor Your Performance – Use the combination of Google Ads and Google Analytics to track the results of your ads. Monitoring your performance will allow you to adjust your various campaigns to optimize the results you’re after. Adding new keywords, remove underperforming ads, and adjusting campaign budgets can all be helpful in get ting the most out of your Google Ad grant.
- Stay in Compliance – To remain in the Google Ads Grant program, you’ll need to maintain compliance with Google’s program rules. The Google Ad Grant renews monthly, and so it is important that you intentionally maintain your suitability for the Grant.There are several reasons that a Google Ad Grant account could be suspended. Here are the most common:
- Abusing the ad network or misrepresenting your organization
- Losing your nonprofit status
- Failing to meet Google for Nonprofits eligibility criteria
- Repeatedly violating Google’s Terms & Policies
- Consider Professional Ad Grant Management – The Google Ads Grant is an invaluable resource to nonprofits who acquire the grant. While it’s possible for your organization to manage the grant on your own, as you can see in this guide, to take full advantage of the program you may be interested in partnering with professional management firm to ensure success.
At VAUX, we offer Google Ads Grant management for nonprofits and work with nonprofit organization to manage their Google Ads to meet their unique goals. Our team creates ads for you each month based on keyword research that identifies the best opportunities for your various campaigns. We write your ads based on direction from your organization and connect them to the best pages on your site to optimize conversions. We also provide monthly analytics and regular communication with your team to provide progress updates and set future goals. You tell us what you want to achieve, and we’ll make it happen. You can view our available management plans here or contact us for a free consultation to learn more.
Without question, the Google Ads Grant program is one of the most powerful tools to help your nonprofit organization increase traffic, grow its audience, and expand its impact. We encourage all nonprofits, regardless of size, to consider this valuable opportunity to reach vast numbers of new people at no cost. We hope this guide has be helpful in explaining the program, how acquire the grant, how to get started with the program and how to be as successful as possible.
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