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The Google Grant | A Guide for Small Nonprofits

Our guide to the Google Ad Grant

More nonprofit organizations are becoming aware of the fantastic benefits of the Google Ad Grant. Unlike many other grants, the Google Ad Grant is easy to acquire, maintain, and utilize. Further, the costs of getting and using the Grant are minimal and require no formal matching or in-kind fundraising.
The scalability of the Google Ad Grant ensures that organizations of any size can use it to achieve their goals. However, smaller nonprofits may be hesitant to commit already limited resources to a new venture. We’re here to put those fears at ease. We at Nonprofit Megaphone are experts in the Google Grant, managing it for over 400 clients. Today we’ll cover the basics of the Google Grant, including:

Let’s jump into more about how the Google Ad Grant can work for you.
What is the Google Ad Grant?

What is the Google Ad Grant?

The Google Ad Grant is a program created and organized by Google to allow specific nonprofits to compete for Google Ads affordably. Google Ads are a valuable marketing opportunity, as they enable any organization to have their ads appear in a Google search. These ads allow your site to generate far more web traffic than it would with an organic search.
Usually, the Google Ad space is saturated with for-profit companies, using their vast marketing budgets to compete with each other for space. Typically, a nonprofit organization would have difficulty competing against for-profit companies, especially if the nonprofit is smaller or has a precarious funding situation. The Google Ad Grant changes that.
The Google Ad Grant is available only to nonprofit organizations. Only schools, hospitals, or government agencies are ineligible. Once acquired, the Grant never has to be renewed, and organizations need only to remain compliant to keep the Grant.
Organizations with the Grant are given up to $10,000 every month to spend on Google Ads. This money allocates automatically based on the Ads market. This effectively constitutes an in-kind contribution from Google, making the accounting simple and easy.
Therefore, the Google Grant is an affordable and sustainable way for nonprofits of any size to build a foundation in digital marketing. So long as they have the means to stay compliant, the Google Grant is something that can be relied upon as a foundation of your organization’s outreach efforts. 

Minimum standards will see minimum results, however, and getting the most out of your Grant will require using skills and analytics data to make your ads perform better. Maximizing the success of your grant will require a synergy of good management and high-quality web content.
How to Get the Google Ad Grant

How to Get the Google Ad Grant

While the Google Ad Grant is available exclusively for nonprofit organizations, certain kinds of nonprofits aren’t eligible. These simple eligibility requirements will be a welcome sight for nonprofit professionals interested in the Google Ad Grant.
Your organization is eligible for the Google Ad Grant only if:

  • You are a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.
  • You are not a hospital, school, or government agency.
  • Churches are eligible, but only if they’ve successfully acquired their 501(c)3 status.

If your organization is eligible, all you have to do is confirm this eligibility and register with Google. To do this, you’ll need to register with Techsoup. Techsoup is well known to nonprofits, as they provide numerous services to nonprofit organizations. Techsoup will verify your eligibility and issue a token upon success. Your team can then use this token to register with Google and begin your acquisition of the Google Ad Grant. 

The ease of eligibility allows your organization to easily slot the Google Ad Grant into your next strategic plan. However, while the acquisition is simple, maintaining the Grant will require some routine maintenance and diligence.
How to Maintain the Google Ad Grant

How to Maintain the Google Ad Grant

Maintaining the Google Ad Grant requires meeting Google’s minimum compliance standards. If these standards are not met, your account could become suspended, pausing the activity in your account and requiring more work to restore your access.
If your Google Ads account is successful, the chances are high that you’re staying compliant with most of the relevant standards. If your account is struggling, tweaking your account to comply with these standards may boost the performance of your account. Google maintains an updated and detailed list of its compliance standards, but here are the most relevant ones that grant managers tend to struggle with.

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No Low-Score or Single-Word Keywords

Keywords are a necessary part of the Google Ads infrastructure. Each ad is attached to certain keywords that determine whether the ad is shown. However, it’s important that the keywords be relevant to the ad and the landing page that the ad is attached to. In addition, the keywords need to be sufficiently popular to ensure that people are actually using those keywords in their searches.
Google’s evaluation of this relevance and popularity is called a quality score. This evaluation is a 1-10 number with 1 being the worst, and 10 being the best. Any score that is lower than 2 is deemed low-quality and can threaten your account. Grant managers should pause or remove any low-quality keywords before they undermine the overall performance of your account.
In addition, Google asks that you never use any single-word keywords. This ensures that the keywords used are not trivial and will help to ensure that each keyword is relevant to the ad.

A Minimum 5% Click-Through Rate

One of the most important metrics in Google Ads is the Click-Through Rate. CTR is calculated as the number of people who click on your ad divided by the number of people who are presented with the ad. A higher CTR is always a good thing and signifies that your ads are relevant, high-quality, and enticing.
Google requires that your account’s overall CTR be higher than 5%. Maintaining a CTR lower than that will threaten your account with suspension. A low CTR signifies that your ad isn’t relevant to the searcher’s query. If you find that your ads have a low CTR, you should consider tweaking the keywords or ad copy first.

Conversion Tracking

Conversions are another essential metric in Google Ads and website analytics. A conversion registered when a user completes an action of value on your website. Conversions can be anything you want but are often things that indicate meaningful engagement with your organization such as spending time on your site, navigating through multiple pages, or making a donation.
Google has no specific requirements for conversions but asks that you have some form of conversion tracking installed on your website. This is done to ensure that your organization has the analytics tools to improve the performance of your account and to incentivize the continual use of the Google Ad Grant to achieve your goals.
The most popular way to track conversions is to install Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager on your website. These tools easily integrate with Google Ads and give you a full suite of analytics data.

Account Maintenance

Other compliance standards fit under the umbrella of account maintenance. For example, Google requires that you log into your Google Ads account at least once every month. Chances are you’ll have to log in more frequently in order to meet the other standards, but the requirement is important to know about. In addition, you’re required to complete an annual survey about your experience with Google Ads.
The most important aspect of account maintenance is maintaining the correct Google Ads structure. The Google Ads infrastructure takes a pyramid shape. The largest pieces are called campaigns, which are themed around a specific goal. 
Within each campaign are Ad Groups. Ad Groups are organized by keywords and are further subdivisions of the campaign theme. Within each Ad Group, you have ads that are shown within a Google Search. Google requires that you have at least two Ad Groups per campaign and at least two ads per Ad Group. This structure ensures that your account is compliant with best practices and creates a foundation for long-term success.
Making the Most of the Google Ad Grant

Making the Most of the Google Ad Grant

If you’ve had the Google Ad Grant for several months and are remaining compliant, then you have all the necessary tools to create long-term success. Google’s standards are designed to create a solid foundation for your account. You can then develop the skills you’ve learned to make the most out of the Grant.
The next step is to begin optimizing, tweaking, and analyzing to achieve your goals.

Optimizing

Optimizing is the process of designing or editing your web content for a specific purpose. For example, it’s a good idea to create optimized landing pages specifically for use with Google Ads. These landing pages will be the pages users visit when they click on your ads, giving you tremendous insight into what they might be looking for. By designing pages relevant to their associated ad, you can intuit the user’s needs and lead them to a helpful website.

Tweaking

Tweaking is the process of making continual changes to your ads, keywords, and content to make them more successful. Google Ads and Analytics give you plenty of data to make informed decisions about your content. Use this data to make tweaks and monitor the changes in performance. A common way to do this is to use A/B testing. A/B testing is the process of designing two similar ads that differ in one fundamental way. You then run both ads and compare their performance. If one performs much better than the other, you know that their difference is significant. You can use methods like A/B testing to tweak your ads to near-perfection.

Wrapping Up

With Google Analytics installed, you’ll have a full suite of analytics data to evaluate your Google Ads account and your overall website performance. Use this data to learn how users engage with your website and whether you achieve your goals. By making smart, data-driven decisions, you’ll begin to see the Google Ad Grant take your organization to the next level.
The Google Ad Grant is an affordable and effective marketing tool for any eligible nonprofit. With a simple process of acquisition, nearly any eligible organization can begin using it. Maintaining compliance can be difficult, but it develops necessary skills for long-term success. With skilled grant management, analytics, and diligence, the Google Ad Grant can become the catalyst for your nonprofit’s growth.


The Google Ad Grant is an affordable and effective marketing tool for any eligible nonprofit. With a simple process of acquisition, nearly any qualified organization can begin using it. Maintaining compliance can be difficult, but it develops necessary skills for long-term success. With skilled grant management, analytics, and diligence, the Google Ad Grant can become the catalyst for your nonprofit’s growth.

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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