As a digital agency with an assortment of nonprofit clients, we provide a range of services beyond just NGO website design. As part of our ongoing retainer support, we offer guidance and strategic advice on a variety of marketing activities, which sometimes includes help setting up, writing copy or doing the keyword research for, Google Ads campaigns.
When approached for help with Google Ads, we are often surprised to find that our nonprofit/charity-status clients are unaware of a potential resource that could be significantly boosting the reach of their campaigns, whilst also saving them money – the Google Ads Grant for nonprofits.
Below is a quick guide on how to apply for the grant and key things to consider when setting up your account.
What is the Google Ads Grant for nonprofits and how does it work?
The Google Ads Grant for nonprofits is an initiative that gives £7,000 or $10,000 USD of free Google Ads spending money to nonprofit organisations. It’s not a one-off payment, it’s a recurring £7,000 / $10,000 USD a month, every month, to multiple nonprofit organisatons that qualify for the scheme. This is a big deal for charities and NGOs with an important message to spread but a limited or non-existent marketing budget. Especially as Google Ads provide some of the most engaged traffic that will visit your website. For one of our clients, their Google Ads grant accounts for nearly 15% of all their goal conversions (shown below as google / cpc), which is 3 times as many completions as their next marketing channel (email).
Eligibility and how to apply for a Google Ads Grant
In order to be eligible for a Google for Nonprofits account, it’s as simple as being registered as a charitable organisation in one of the initiative’s designated countries. All charities are eligible, though there are some exemptions: governmental entities or organisations, hospital or health care organisations (though charitable arms or foundations are eligible), schools, academic institutions, and universities (though philanthropic arms are eligible).
As well as being available to the majority of nonprofit organisations, the Google Ads Grant is also incredibly easy to apply for. As you’ll need key information about your organisation and to register using an associated internal Google account, we do not apply for the grant on behalf of our clients but point them to the below steps:
- Get a validation token from TechSoup / Charity Digital:
Google works with a third-party called TechSoup (US) or Charity Digital (UK) to certify the NGO status of an organisation. After filling in a few details they’ll supply you with a “token” which you can use in the next step.
- Signup for a Google for Nonprofits account:
Login using your company google account and enter the verification token from TechSoup. Google will notify you via email once the account is approved.
- Once your account is verified you can activate the Google Ads grant and start setting up your first campaigns.
- Bonus – other Google products are also available as part of the grant: Google Workspace for Nonprofits, YouTube Nonprofit Program, and Google Maps Platform credits. Once your account is approved you can activate these other products at the same time.
How to use your Google Ads Grant
Once your Google for Nonprofits account is verified and the grant activated, it’s time to set up your ad campaigns. You can split the monthly budget across multiple campaigns, which means you can have targeted campaigns for your different goals and audience types; for example, you may have one campaign that focuses on your latest fundraising drive and another which generates subscriptions to your newsletter.
When setting up your account, here are some general Google Ad Grants restrictions and requirements that you’ll need to factor in:
What you can and can't do with Google Ads Grants
- The grant can only be used for text-based ads, which will show on search results pages just below any paid for ads but above organic listings. That means, unlike with a privately paid for Google Ads account, you will not have the option to run any display (remarketing) or video ads.
- Different countries and languages can be targeted using the grant. Geo-targeting (location) is applied at Campaign level so think carefully about which ads are relevant to which locations / languages and group them into Campaigns.
- Campaigns must have at least two ad groups within them and ad groups must have at least two ad variations within them. Keywords are applied at the ad group level so you will have a handful of ad variations that target the same keywords. Each ad must have two unique sitelink extensions – these are just links to other relevant pages on your site which help to tell users more about who you are but they also enable the ad to take up more screen space, so having these is a good thing.
- Single-word keywords are not allowed, they must be paired in order to be specific to your organisation’s mission, e.g. in the case of one of our environment NGOs, ‘bioenergy’ as a single keyword would not be allowed but ‘bioenergy and biomass’ or ‘bioenergy research’ are allowed, as these are more specific to their mission. Brand terms and some acronyms are exempt from this rule e.g. ‘BECCS’. This means thinking beyond your stem keywords and the keyword planner within your Google Ads account will help greatly with this.
- You should use no more than 20 keywords per ad group, otherwise it is not likely that your ads will be relevant enough and you won’t achieve the desired click-through rate (CTR).
- Overall, your campaigns must achieve a click-through rate of 5% or your account will be suspended. This means even if some campaigns have a lower CTR they can be balanced out by those with a higher CTR but this requirement does make it all the more important to conduct thorough keyword research and provide well-written ads that are highly relevant to their corresponding landing pages.
- You must link your ads to a specific and well-designed landing page. You cannot direct all traffic to your homepage. As you set up your ads, you'll see a quality score appear. This score indicates how your ad compares to other advertisers targeting the same keywords. Google judges the score based on the relevance of your ad and landing page to the chosen keywords, as well as the overall user experience of the landing page.
- Your account must acquire at least 1 valid conversion per month. Conversion goals can be imported from Google Analytics or you can set up custom conversions so this requirement should be easy to achieve – providing you have a well designed landing page on your website to drive conversions!
Google Ads Grant Management and Support
Hopefully this introductory guide to the Google Ads grant for nonprofits has shown that it is well worth your time applying for and making the most of this free acquisition budget.
If you’d like further Google Ads grant support, whether in the form of writing compelling ad copy, advice on how to structure your account, conducting keyword research or creating the ultimate landing page, then get in touch.
Emily is one of our Account Managers and specialises in content and SEO. When she's not helping clients, you'll find her on a walk with Poppy the sheepdog, stretching it out at yoga, or shaking it out at a dance class.