How Google Grants Can Help Your Nonprofit Succeed in AdWords

How Google Grants Can Help Your Nonprofit Succeed in AdWords

Some of the biggest issues facing nonprofit organizations are getting the word out about their cause and raising money. Did you know that Google offers a program that can help you do both?

Google Ad Grants, which is part of the Google for Nonprofits program, gives approved nonprofit advertisers up to $10,000 per month in free advertising money. Whether you’re a novice advertiser or have more experience with AdWords – Google has options for both.

A Google Grants Non-profit Success Story

Here at Vertical Measures, we have seen success with getting nonprofit organizations approved for Google Ad Grants. For our first project, we chose to work with a local animal rescue organization. In addition to being a very animal-friendly organization, we chose to work with this rescue because this is a cause that many people are passionate about. In addition, the rescue itself has a limited staff of volunteers and we knew they could greatly benefit from the additional resources. They were ecstatic to learn about Google’s free advertising money and have been even more excited about the results we’ve seen so far.

.@GoogleGrants are a potent way for a #non-profit w/ minimal resources to gain visibility on search. Case study: Click To Tweet

We started out by meeting with them to determine what their most important goals were – in this case it was increasing donations as well as getting more dogs adopted. We continue to meet with them on a regular basis to adjust and update these goals.

With ongoing optimization of keywords, bids, and budget allocation, one particular client – an animal rescue organization – has seen a significant increase in impressions, clicks, click-through-rate, and spend in the last four months. Take a peek at our Google Grants case study and datagraphic below to see the results visually.

a google grants non-profit success-story

This organization has also provided anecdotal evidence of increased phone calls and website visits – but even more importantly, an increase in donations and animal adoptions.

How Do I Apply?

The first step in participating in any Google Grant program is to determine if your nonprofit organization is eligible. To receive a Google Grant, you must be:

  • Recognized by the IRS as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization
  • Registered with the local TechSoup partner and validated as a nonprofit organization

So who’s not eligible?

  • Schools
  • Childcare centers
  • Academic institutions
  • Universities
  • Government entities and organizations
  • Hospitals and healthcare organizations

Google notes that philanthropic branches of educational organizations may still be eligible for Google Grants, and those in the education field have options through Google for Education.

Once you confirm your eligibility, you have to apply for a Google for Nonprofits account. This is essentially the account that will allow you to login and enroll in all the various Google for Nonprofits programs. Once your main account is approved, you’ll have to enroll in Google Ad Grants and setup your AdWords account.

Not every #non-profit is eligible for @Google Grants. Learn which organizations are... Click To Tweet

Setting Up Your AdWords Account for Ad Grants

Google offers two different AdWords account options: traditional AdWords, which allows you to manage all the details of your campaign, or AdWords Express, which is a more automated approach.

Google has detailed instructions on how to setup each type of account in order to get it approved for Ad Grants. Your choice should reflect your comfort level with AdWords – if you’re a beginner, AdWords Express is probably the best option. But if you have some experience managing AdWords accounts, or you have an agency helping you, then traditional AdWords is the best option.

The most important thing to remember, regardless of which type of account you decide to setup, is to ignore all of Google’s warnings to add billing information. This alert will go away once the account has been approved for Ad Grants.


Setting up an AdWords Express account is pretty simple – Google estimates it should take you about 15 minutes. Here are the detailed instructions to follow for setting up the account.

Creating a traditional AdWords account will take a little more time – about 2-4 hours according to Google. Here are the detailed instructions on setting up a traditional AdWords account. There are a few things to keep in mind during campaign setup:

  • Ignore all alerts to add billing information
  • You must use US Dollar as your currency
  • You must only advertise on the Search Network.
  • You cannot “include search partners” (you have to proactively uncheck this box)
  • You must manually set your bids
  • Your default bid cannot be higher than $2
  • Your total daily budget must not exceed $329 – that means you have to split budgets accordingly if you have multiple campaigns running

Once you’ve finished setting everything up, you must submit the account for approval. You should get an email in about 5 business days to confirm whether or not your account has been approved.

After your account has been approved, there are a few things Google requires in order for you to stay qualified. The most important to note is that you are required to login to your account once per month, and you are required to make at least one change within your account every 90 days. In addition:

  • All of your ads can only be linked to the original domain that was approved.
  • All ads and keywords must match your organization’s services.
  • Commercial advertising is forbidden, unless all proceeds benefit your organization.
  • Your ads cannot point to pages that contain only links to other sites.
  • You cannot advertise financial products or request donations of property.
  • Your website can’t use Google AdSense.

What Should My Ads Look Like?

Creating eye-catching, effective ad copy is probably the most important part of the Ad Grants process. Your ads are what are going to grab searchers’ attention and get them interested in your organization and your cause.

In general, PPC ad copy for non-profits should contain a strong selling point or description, as well as a relevant call-to-action that will make people want to click on the ad. For instance, if the goal of your ads is to get people to make a donation, your ad copy might look like this:


This ad from WaterAid is very effective and to-the-point without being too pushy or salesy. The ad showcases a little bit about their cause – saving lives by providing safe, clean water – and encourages you to donate.

PPC ad copy for non-profits should contain a strong selling point or description, as well as a relevant CTA. Click To Tweet

If your goal is to get more volunteers, it helps to create a sense of urgency and state why people might want to get involved. Take or example this ad below from Phoenix Childrens Foundation:


How Do I Measure Success?

Your success with Google Ad Grants will depend on your goals as an organization. At the very least, you’ll benefit from additional brand visibility and an increase in traffic to your website. Many organizations have more specific goals – increase donations, find more volunteers, or obtain contact information from those interested in your cause.

AdWords can help with any of these goals, and by installing a little bit of code on your website, you can easily track who is clicking on your ads, coming to your website, and making a donation or filling out a contact form.

Other Options

If AdWords isn’t your thing, or you already have a paid advertising account, Google also offers the following programs for nonprofit organizations:

  • G Suite for Nonprofits: A cloud-based program that makes it easier for teams to collaborate and work together from anywhere in real-time.
  • YouTube Nonprofit Program: This program allows nonprofit organizations to share their videos on YouTube to help them connect with volunteers and donors.
  • Google One Today: This effort helps nonprofit organizations build fundraising campaigns that tie supporters’ donations to their impact.
  • Google Earth Outreach: Use Google Earth to create custom maps and share global location data.

Need help managing your nonprofit Google Adwords account? Reach out to us today to speak about our PPC management services.

Jen Rubio

Jen grew up in Western New York, where she received a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from St. Bonaventure University, and later relocated to Phoenix in 2009. She has worked with a variety of businesses doing content writing, SEO, and PPC advertising. In her free time, Jen likes to travel, go to concerts, and hang out with her pets (two dogs, a cat, and a lizard).