Google Ads for Nonprofits
I want to share with you about a grant that you may or may not be familiar with. It’s a grant given by Google exclusively for nonprofit organizations, and it’s not insignificant. Applying for grants is one of the biggest challenges for nonprofit organizations. I know this because I have served on many nonprofit boards and continue to do so. Smaller nonprofits often lack the in house talent to research and effectively apply for grants, and larger nonprofits often struggle to hire the right people to get the job done.
Google for Nonprofits offers a $10,000 per month Google Ad Grant to qualifying nonprofit organizations to help them drive website traffic, increase awareness, execute on their mission, and grow their donor base. This is money to be spent directly on the Google Ads platform. Best of all, it does not require a lengthy grant proposal and won’t take months of waiting to know if you are approved. That’s right, Google will usually let nonprofits know if they are approved within 2 weeks of applying.
Which Nonprofits Can Qualify for This Grant?
Google currently offers this Grant in over 50 countries and each country has its own specific criteria. In the United States, the nonprofit must be recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)3 organization at a minimum. There are also certain nonprofits that do not qualify. These include:
- Governmental entities or organizations
- Hospitals or health care organizations
- Schools, academic institutions, or universities. Please note that philanthropic arms of educational organizations are eligible, however.
All nonprofits must adhere to the following rules:
- Must have a website describing their mission that utilizes an SSL certificate (displays properly using https://)
- Website cannot host Google Ads (via AdSense) or display any other affiliate advertising.
- The website must serve the mission of the nonprofit and not be simply commercial in nature.
- “Website should not promote opposition or anti-sentiment related to beliefs about protected groups, including religion, race, disability, age, nationality, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or other characteristics that are associated with systemic discrimination or marginalization” (directly copied from Google’s website)
How the Money Can Be Used to Benefit the Nonprofit?
The nonprofit has to use this money in a Google Ads account. They are essentially credited the money daily to be used in their account to bid on keywords relevant to their mission. This Google Ads account does come with some restrictions, however. They are as follows:
- Must create a new Google Ads account separate from any account that has had payment information in it prior.
- Account must be geo-targeted to the service area of the nonprofit
- Account can run text-only ads and can only run ads directly on Google (not Google partner sites)
- There is a cost per click limit of $2 per click (unless you used an advanced bidding strategy)
- The account has to maintain a 5% click-through rate. If this is not met for any consecutive 2 month period the account may be deactivated.
- Account must have a minimum of two ad groups
- Ad groups must have a minimum of 2 ads
- Keywords must have greater than a 2/10 quality score
- Must utilize at least two sitelink ad extensions
- Must track at least one valid conversion per month (i.e. donor, newsletter signup, petition signed, call to organization, etc.)
- Must complete the annual survey for Google
There are certainly other rules, but these are the most notable. If an organization does not stay within the parameters they can lose the Grant money and have their account deactivated. Also, due to the criteria on keyword cost, many nonprofits fail to actually spend all of the money allocated to them. It takes some know-how to architect a Google campaign in a manner that you can spend the money optimally. This is why it is recommended to work with a Google Ads Certified Professional.
Will This Work for Your Nonprofit?
You really won’t know unless you step out and apply, and then start to run a campaign. A common concern among nonprofits is that the $2 per click limits them in bidding on relevant terms. Many organizations (for-profit and nonprofit) miss the opportunity to bid on their branded terms such as their name, which are typically lower in cost and higher in click-through rate, so that is one tip.
That aside, it’s a matter of identifying those keywords that work within the allocated budget, and then moving to a better performing bidding strategy (such as a conversion or ROI based strategy) to exceed the $2 cost per click limit.
How to Apply for Google Ads for Nonprofits
Applying for Google Ad Grants is simple and you should be able to do it on your own (click here to apply). Setting up your account is a bit more challenging, especially if you don’t have someone with that expertise in house or on your board, so it may cost a little money to get your account set up. From there, managing the account to Google criteria will be the biggest challenge. The goals should be effectively spending the fully budget (of $329 per day) and maintaining the baseline metrics to keep the account from being deactivated.
Need Help Getting Started with Your Google Ads Grant Application?
If you need help applying for a Google Grants Ad account for your nonprofit, setting up your Google Ads account, managing your account, or ever getting a deactivated Google Grants Ad account reactivated, feel free to reach out to me as I am a Google Certified Ads Professional with over a decade of experience managing Google Ads. I have worked with both for-profit and nonprofit organizations and truly enjoy working with mission-based nonprofits.
Wishing you success!
(Originally posted on LinkedIn)