As the world’s most used search engine, Google is a resource nonprofits should use to spread their message. In fact, according to Nonprofits Source, Google owns over 93% of the search engine market share.
Fortunately, Google offers a program called the Google Ad Grant to give nonprofits a leg up and find more dedicated supporters, faster. With the Google Ad Grants program, your organization can use Google Ads to increase donations, promote upcoming events, advertise volunteer opportunities, and more.
But, before you apply for the program, there are a few prerequisites your nonprofit needs to complete. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the basic to-dos you need to check off before you begin your Google Ad Grant journey. Let’s dive in!
Google Ad Grant Basics
The Google Ad Grant is a Google-sponsored marketing grant program that offers $10,000 in ad credits per month to eligible nonprofits. Recipients can then use this money to bid on keywords. When managed strategically, these keywords can help nonprofits advertise their most relevant web pages cost-free.
For instance, let’s say that you’re an animal-related nonprofit with a strong bent toward pet rescue and rehabilitation. You could bid on keywords such as “animal rescue near me” or “pet adoption centers” to drive more traffic to your website and increase donations. When users search for those keywords, they’ll be presented with a link to your relevant web page near the top of the results.
Google Ad Grant Prerequisites
Unlike other grant programs, the Google Ad Grants program is unlimited in the number of organizations it can support. However, this does mean it has set requirements for eligibility. Therefore, your nonprofit must check all eligibility components and maintain compliance even after it has been approved.
Although these requirements might seem strict, Google’s regulations are set in place to deter dishonest organizations, protect vulnerable websites, and provide an optimal user experience to online searchers. To make sure your organization is set to apply for the Google Ad Grant, let’s review the key prerequisites.
Google’s eligibility criteria are straightforward. For your reference, here is a list of the qualifying standards your nonprofit must meet:
- Currently hold a valid charity status in your country. For U.S. nonprofits, this means being registered as a 501(c)(3) organization with the IRS.
- Be registered with TechSoup and Google for Nonprofits.
- Agree to Google’s nondiscrimination and donation receipt and use policies on the application.
- Possess a functioning website that provides a large amount of valuable content.
Note that Google also considers your specific industry as well. This means you’re ineligible for the Google Ad Grant program if you operate in any of the following sectors: healthcare, education, or government. In this case, we suggest that you research other Google grant programs related to your specific industry, such as Google for Education.
Alongside general nonprofit requirements, Google also upholds website policy requirements. Because ads purchased via the Google Ad Grant will direct website users to your content, Google wants to make sure that your website will add value to the user’s experience. Here are the key requirements to note:
- Domain ownership. Your nonprofit must be the owner of the domain users are directed to when they click your Google Ad.
- Updated and clear nonprofit descriptions. This includes descriptions related to your organization’s mission, values, and recent activities. Users should be able to quickly discover who your nonprofit is and how they can get involved.
- Nonduplicated content. Your content should be unique to your organization.
- Links and load time. Your website shouldn’t include any broken links (links that lead to a 404 error page). Instead, all links should send users to the intended page. Similarly, your load time should remain quick to not keep users waiting.
- Security protections. To be eligible, your website must be HTTPS-secured to make sure user information is protected.
- Commercial actions. Your website should not solely support commercial content. Sales or consultation offers should be tied directly back to your nonprofit’s mission. In some cases, you must create an annual report showing how your nonprofit used commercially obtained funds.
- Limited ads. All nonprofit ads should be relevant to your cause and remain unobtrusive to website visitors.
Your website should be a valuable resource to those browsing through it. Consider planning regular website hygiene check-ups to ensure quality and make any quick fixes like correcting broken links. That way, your site will remain responsive and you’ll avoid sacrificing your eligibility.
Program Compliance Expectations
Other Google Ad Grant program terms and conditions to note are listed in Google’s program policies. These include general expectations, account management conditions, and standard Google Ads policies.
Make sure your nonprofit reads through these before beginning its application to avoid mishandling user data or misusing Google’s Ad network. Researching these standards ahead of time will help your account maintain compliance once you’ve received approval from Google.
In addition to achieving initial eligibility, Google expects nonprofits to adhere to management guidelines to maintain eligibility status.
Most notably, this includes maintaining a 5% click-through rate (CTR) each month. Not meeting this guideline will result in the suspension of your account. Here are some practical ways you can steer clear of this risk:
- Schedule account updates. Log in at least once every 90 days to update your account and indicate to Google that you are actively using the grant.
- Use Google Analytics to measure performance. Keep your CTR as high as possible by measuring it with Google Analytics and taking care of low-performing strategies before they negatively impact your account.
- Create targeted ads based on keywords and region. Keep your ads relevant to your specific audience and mission. Avoid using overly broad keywords such as “volunteer opportunities”, to reduce unnecessary competition.
- Re-strategize when needed. Not all keyword strategies will be winners. Avoid using single-word keywords or keywords with low-quality scores. If a keyword strategy isn’t yielding returns, consider using tools like Moz Keyword Explorer or Google Search Console to identify effective alternatives.
As this list indicates, the Google Ad Grant requires consistent upkeep to maintain eligibility. But, you’re not in it alone. You can partner with a Google Ad Grants agency to help get you up and running and ensure compliance throughout your campaign.
These experts can help you apply for the program, do keyword research, and even re-activate your account if needed. Consult resources like Getting Attention’s list of Google Ad Grant agencies to see which one is right for you.
The Google Ad Grant can help you build a movement around your mission by elevating your online visibility. By checking off the above prerequisites, you’ll be well prepared to apply and activate your digital marketing potential.