It’s no secret that Google Ad Grants is a fantastic resource for nonprofits. However, many eligible people are still unaware of the program and how to use it. In this guide, you’ll find everything you need to know about the Google Ad Grant Program, including eligibility requirements, the application process, and benefits. This post will clarify any questions you might have and help you make the most of your grant!
Google’s Ad Grant Program is one of the best resources out there for nonprofit organizations. It helps your marketing budget go far without a digital advertising background. If you aren’t already a Google Ads expert, we’ve got your back. Our guide will remove any confusion and help you decide if Google Ads is right for your organization.
What is a Google Ad Grant, and Why Do I Want One?
Ad Grants is a program sponsored by Google that gives nonprofits free advertising credits on its Google Ads platform (text ads on search pages). There aren’t many requirements to get started.
Why Google Ads Work
Google Ads are incredibly effective because they are displayed to people searching relevant terms in Google. So, the traffic your ad generates is very targeted. This powerful combination of targeting and effectiveness makes Google Ads extremely valuable for organizations looking to drum up more donors, increase site traffic, and expand their reach.
If you ever worked with Google AdWords in the past, then you already know Google Ads (it rebranded in 2018).
The main reason people don’t use the program is that they are intimidated by it. Many nonprofit organizations don’t have the time or resources to learn how to use Google Ads. However, Google Ad Grants take care of the hard stuff for you. For example, it helps nonprofits understand how ads work. It also provides templates for typical Google Ads campaigns that you can easily customize.
How Does The Google Ad Program Work?
The process is straightforward and doesn’t take long to sign up. First, you’ll need a Google Ad Grants account, which is free! Then you’ll need to apply (you can do this by answering a few questions and uploading a few basic stats). The grants team will go through your report and contact you with the results. Once you are approved, your organization will receive $10,000 per month in Google Ad credits.
How To Get A Google Ad Grant
Don’t worry about competing to win the grant. Google isn’t comparing your application to other nonprofits. They just want to make sure your organization meets a few simple requirements.
There is no deadline to apply! The Google Ad Grants team reviews applications on a rolling basis, so there are no deadlines. Once you start the application process, it will be easy to get through at your own pace without worrying about time constraints or having to pause in between steps for any reason.
What you need to get a Google Ads Grant Account:
Google for Nonprofits
You access the Ad Grant application through Google for Nonprofits, so having a Google for Nonprofits account is a prerequisite. If you don’t have a Google for Nonprofits account yet, here’s how:
1. Review Google’s Eligibility Requirements
2. Request a Google for Nonprofit Account
3. Get verified by TechSoup as a legally registered nonprofit (or similar)
Create an account with TechSoup and upload documents like 501(c)(3) determination letters or articles of incorporation paperwork from state regulators to show you have valid charity status.
4. TechSoup will issue you a token number that unlocks access to various products and services, not just Google for Nonprofits.
(It is worthwhile to register with TechSoup even if you don’t want anything Google-related.)
How Your Website Can Increase Your Grant’s Value
Google cares if you have a usable website, so make sure it is up to par before applying.
Google doesn’t want to promote bad sites, even through paid advertisements because it will annoy their users. A good, usable site with clear information gives Google’s algorithm confidence to put your ads in front of more people. This means a lot more clicks on your ads and more visitors to your website.
It doesn’t take a lot to have a good site.
Here is a checklist to know if your website is likely to pass Google’s review process:
If your site clears all these bars, then CONGRATULATIONS! Your site is probably up to Google’s standards.
Once you have set up your Google for Nonprofits account, you can apply for the Google Grant. You must first apply to the team that reviews websites. They make sure that it is ready before giving you access to your Google Ads Account.
After the first phase is approved, the next step is to build a basic Google Ads account and submit that for approval. You’ll find instructions for this process as you fill out the application form.
Be aware that when you apply for Google Ads, you choose between two different kinds of accounts. The first one is called “Smart Campaigns.” It is, in fact, quite dumb. Go with the other account type called “Classic.”
Goolge Ad Grant Application Timeline
The wait time for the application process can take over a month if you don’t yet have a Google for Nonprofits account. If you’re in a hurry, it’s essential to take care of every step, so there aren’t any hiccups to slow you down.
Techsoup validation: 2 to 14 business days
Google for Nonprofits account setup: 2 to 14 business days
Google Ad Grants Pre-Qualification (Phase 1): 2 to 9 business days
Google Ad Grants Account Setup (Phase 2): 5 to 25 business days
Application review: Approximately 10 business days
How to Get The Most Out of Your Google Ads
How Do Google Ads Work?
Google Ads put ads on search results pages and Google properties like YouTube. The way they work is straightforward. You’ll specify the audience you want to reach based on where they are, what they’re doing online, and how much money they have. These audiences can be highly specific.
To take full advantage of Google Ads, you’ll need to know some basic terminology. I’ll try to break it down here in a few sentences, but if it’s still confusing, read this guide. When you set up an ad campaign, you will choose your ads’ settings.
Key Terms and Ad Settings
Keywords - the terms people are searching for when they come across your ad. This is the essential factor in determining whether your ad will get clicks and what price you will pay for those clicks. The average cost per click on ads is $0.05- $1.00. It would be best to consider how much money you can pay for clicks; the amount of money you will spend on each click is determined by your total budget.
Ad Groups - the different ways we will try to reach our audience with ads. For example, in an ad, it may be worth it to create an Ad Group that targets people by their interests and what charities they've donated to so that we can find more people interested in our cause who might contribute.
Keyword Match Type - there are two options; broad match and exact match. Broad match is used when you want your ads to show on searches that use slightly different terms than those you've chosen. For example, using "animal rescue" instead of "animal shelter" would cause your ad to show up on searches with both terms (in fact, it would show up on searches that included either term.) Exact match is used when you want to get more targeted traffic. It will only show your ad on searches where the words in your ad exactly match the search query.
Location Targeting- when are you interested in showing your ads to people? By Location, we mean which areas you'd like to reach people. Your choices are State/Providers, City, Suburbs, and Country. It is worth considering how many people you're trying to reach in each area. For example, if 90% of donations come from people in California and 80% come from Sacramento, it wouldn't be worth putting Phoenix as part of your location targeting.
Format - Google offers three formats - text ads, video ads, and images (called 'badges'). Still, the Google Ad Grant only covers text ads. We recommend making your ad text as short as possible - about 200 words.
Budget Cap - you can set your budget cap. You'll want to lower this if you wish to run many campaigns on Ad Grants. We recommend selecting a lower limit as you'll need to leave some budget for testing.
Intent - you can choose what types of ads are displayed in the Ads program: Display Network Only, Search Network Only, or Display and Search Network (i.e., all networks). Google advises that you keep your ad's targeted intent consistent. That is, if you are running an awareness campaign, make sure your ad is showing only on Display Network and that all ads have a 'promote awareness' intent. You can also create Custom Intent, which allows you to upload specific websites or YouTube content relevant to your target audience's interests.
Ad Schedule - at first glance, this doesn't seem very clear. But I think it makes sense. You want the ads to be shown during the optimal time for awareness (typically before a call-to-action or after). So set up your ad schedule to have 30 days of ads, then at least one day with no ads. This is an excellent way to get people who are already aware of your business recurring back.
Ad Campaigns - If you have more than 30 sites, you can create ad campaigns available across all websites rather than just one or two. This helps you take advantage of different ad audiences and reach a different audience at different times of day and on different days of the week.
How to Manage Your Google Ads Grant
Keep in mind that there is a learning curve with Google Ads. After all, it is a product meant for professional marketers to use daily. You are wearing ten hats, and if you can spend 6 hours on this in the first month, you’re overachieving.
To make the most out of your time, rely on Google’s Skillshop courses to educate yourself.
You can do all of this work yourself, or you can easily find someone to do it for you. Use sites like Upwork.com or Fivver.com to find someone to get the first few ads established. This is a common task for people on these sites, and you can find many good people to do the work for less $ than you think and in a lot less time than it would take a newbie. You might have a volunteer who can help with this, but don’t just give anyone the keys to drive your fancy new car :).
Whether you do it yourself or find help, it is good to understand how it all works.
Woohoo! $10,000 Per Month! (not exactly)
Your grant is $330 per day.
(There goes our plan to carpet bomb the town ads promoting our Giving Day Campaign.)
But that’s ok. It is hard to spend $10,000 in the first few months anyway. Google needs some time to run our ads and learn how people interact with them before extending our ads to their maximum reach.
If you do hit a home run with a few ads and all of a sudden you have overspent your $330 per day, don’t sweat it. Google doesn’t bill you for those budget overages.
Once you have your grant, you will need to understand your keywords. Your ads will appear in front of people searching on Google, YouTube, etc., so create ads for your relevant keywords that get searched most frequently.
So it would be best if you found out which of your aspects of your organization people are interested in. Then you can set up Google Ad campaigns for these things around your most popular keywords. Your organization might end up with many low-performing campaigns and struggle to meet the minimum performance required by Google if you do not do this first.
Keyword Research Is The Key
When you’re building your keyword list, it can seem overwhelming. A clever tool built into Google Ads will ease the process. Known as the Keyword Planner, this lets you see how many people are searching for each term and what phrases they’re using; make sure to use these phrases in your ads!
Broad Match Keywords Are Your Swiss Army Knife
The broad match keyword format is an effective way of targeting words for users searching on Google. It is powerful because when you use (+housing +donation) or (-housing -donation); it’ll trigger your ads if someone searches using variations of those terms. So if someone searches “local housing organizations accepting donations,” then your ad will get activated. Broad match modified keywords will make your ads show up to the maximum number of people. They will also make sure that people are likely to be interested in what you have.
Include Your Keywords In Your Ads.
Be sure to set up an ad for each keyword that includes that keyword in the headline and the description. The close match between your ad and the searchers will lead them to click on it.
Google doesn’t waste valuable ad space on ads that aren’t getting clicked. So, don’t take comfort in the idea that your un-clicked ads create awareness. If your ads aren’t getting clicks, then you’ll need to troubleshoot your ads.
Track Your Ads’ Performance
At this point, you have a Google Ads account. You have a Google Analytics account. Get the most out of them by setting up some conversion goals. Use the conversion goals to track how the ads convert ad views into visitors, and how many of those visitors are doing what you want them to do on your site (email subscription, event sign-up, make a donation, etc.).
You will find that Google requires you to track meaningful conversions like these. Track as many as you can. It will help give you insight that applies well to all visitors, not just those driven by ads. Google will use this ROI information to guide their Google Ad Grant program into the future.
Google Ads Grants are a great way to get more exposure for your nonprofit’s website and generate leads. There is no cost, but you do have to meet certain criteria in order to be eligible. With an average of $10,000 per month in grant funding for nonprofits and small businesses, it’s worth taking some time to learn all about how you can apply for one. We’ve compiled this guide of resources and information that will help you decide if your organization is eligible to apply, how to get your account established, keys to get your first ad campaign up and running, and more!
Let us know below if there’s anything else you think would be helpful or important in understanding how Google Ads Grants can help grow your nonprofit.
Have you applied? What was the experience like? Let us know what questions still linger about this program, so we can try to answer them here.