Today you will learn about the Google Ad Grant program and how nonprofits can apply to TechSoup, Google For Nonprofit, and Google Ads Grant programs. A second part discusses the account set up for the Google Ads grant ( Making sure your nonprofit is ready and account set up ( part 2). 

Google Ads Grant is part of the Google for Nonprofits program. To qualify for Google Ad Grants, your organization must:

  1. Create and set up a TechSoup account. Add your organization to the Account.
  2. Go through nonprofit validation check.
  3. Access the validation token (code) in TechSoup Account.
  4. Check eligibility. Apply to Google for Nonprofits.
  5. Hold valid charity status and 501(c)(3) (nonprofits located in the United States).
  6. Acknowledge and agree to Google’s required certifications regarding nondiscrimination and donation receipt and use.
  7. Have a live website with substantial content.
  8. Once approved for Google for Nonprofit, apply for the Google Ad Grant program and follow the account creation guide.
  9. Understand where your ads will appear.
  10. Website requirements.
  11. Initial issues with setup, including not entering billing information.
  12. Questions to ask to determine if your organization is ready for the program.

What are Google Ad Grants?

Google Ads Grant offers nonprofits $10,000 per month in advertising credits to advertise on Google Search only. As of February 2021, Google Ad Grant rolled out remarketing for search ads only. Google Ads Grant offers nonprofits the ability to jump into paid media cost-effectively. 

Why is Google Ad Grants an essential nonprofit marketing tool?

Google Ads Grant is a marketing tool that connects with users as they are searching on Google. People search in real-time, so nonprofits can gain real-time data that’s not available with traditional marketing, learn about what people are searching for, the ability refine marketing messages based on that information. The benefit of search engine marketing is that nonprofits drive traffic to their websites today.

Google Search is a great place to connect with trends that affect your nonprofit’s domain: social issues, health issues, entertainment, and many other causes. For instance, you are a social justice nonprofit with a petition to connect with people who want to take action. You can push the message on social media, but users will become disengaged and tune the message out. The opposite happens on Google Search – users are searching articles, whitepapers, or content that supports their view or for something to meet their needs. Unlike print media, Google Ads allows you to refresh messages quickly.

Google Ads Grant Benefits For Performing Arts Nonprofits

If you are a performing arts nonprofit, Google Ad Grants is a great way to get your events online and promoted quickly. 

Why is Google Ad Grants a valuable fundraising tool?

The first thing about using Google Ad Grant as a fundraising tool, most of the users who visit your website will be 80-90% first-time visitors. A new audience allows you to deliver content that connects with users in a meaningful way. Value-add content geared toward users is how you connect with first-time users. A marketing funnel is a start to a great fundraising campaign. Google Ads Grant is an excellent tool for marketing funnels. 

However, Google Ad Grant will NOT solve immediate money or fundraising problems. The same cultivation techniques used in fundraising offline apply online. Nonprofits must learn to build relationships with people online. In reality, the cultivation of a visitor to a donor could be 3-6 months from the first contact. Google Ads Grant works for short-term marketing achievements, while email marketing fills the gap in a nonprofit’s long-term marketing strategy. 

How have you seen other nonprofits benefit from a Google Ad Grant?

I currently work with nonprofits with a registration component for e-courses – which are FREE. The nonprofits increase the number of people who engage with the organization steadily. Another nonprofit uses webinars to promote content, then converts webinars to e-courses. The nonprofit also offers continuing education for nurses by nature of what they do. The keywords for their campaigns are high-value cost-per-click keywords. If the nonprofit ran these campaigns independently with a paid account, it would cost $20-125 per click. However, with Google Ads Grant, the nonprofit can find a defined target audience for their niche.

If you are launching a new program, Google Ad Grant can help you connect with people to drive engagement. The nonprofits who understand content marketing and content creation benefit the most. 

What is content marketing?  

I have a complete guide on content creation for nonprofits. I also define content marketing. Bookmark the link to read later on. 

Nonprofits need to learn about content marketing and why it’s another piece of the long-term marketing strategy. Content drives higher engagement rates for marketing campaigns. Engagement is a Key Performance Indicator in marketing. Before moving to other content types, I suggest nonprofits start with blog posts and maybe 1-2 videos. Each nonprofit has different Key Performance Indicators. For instance, a goal for one of the nonprofits I work with is to drive downloads of their guides. They use the Google Grant to drive awareness for the guide.

What is required to succeed with Google Grants?

Build a fast website with robust content. Five pages will not cut it. Invest in your website. Figure how to make it your primary communication tool. Learn to keep users on your website. Persist and educate yourself about the Google Ad Grants and Ad policies. Build your account over time. Don’t think that you need to max out at $10,000 immediately. Local nonprofits may never use the entire $10,000 advertising credits. 

Conversions KPI

Focus on conversions – the actions you want the user to take. Make this your primary key performance indicator. Don’t focus on clicks or impressions as KPIs; those are vanity metrics. Learn how to do keyword research effectively. Learn about conversions and what they are. Social media shares, downloads, email marketing signups, drive subscriptions, and e-course signups are types of conversions nonprofits can measure.

Use Google Analytics & Search Console

Use the Google Search Console to check your website’s performance in search and find keywords. Use Bing Webmaster Tools as well. Microsoft has Clarity which has behavioral tools (heats maps). Use Google Analytics to measure the nonprofit’s conversions and data. Analyze the data collected within the Google Ads platform. Google Optimize can be used for A/B testing of different landing pages and messages. 

First-Party Data Rules Beyond 2022

Connect as much of your first-party with Google Analytics to measure fundraising and eCommerce data and use these as conversions to get a holistic picture of your user base. First-party data includes fundraising, eCommerce platforms, CRM, internal data, and email marketing. Avoid using a ton of third-party applications if possible. Don’t use Google Forms for your website’s form management- you cannot use any of this data for conversion. 

Google has explicitly stated that websites need to start collecting first-party data. The for-profit industry is scrambling to get ahead of these changes. The good news for nonprofits, you guys are ahead of the first-party data game. Get the data out of your databases and connect your pieces—customer data platforms. I know you guys are doing donor profiling. 

Understand Changes In Data Privacy & Marketing

Topics and FLoC – data privacy IS affecting your marketing strategies TODAY. In 2023 everything you know about marketing on Facebook and Google Ads will change. We will see data loss in digital marketing across the board in the future. You already see it with Facebook advertising and how Apple iOS 14 now asks for user content to pass data to apps. Firefox and Apple have opted out of Google’s Federated Learning of Cohorts. 

Here’s an example of how Google will collect 3rd party data in the future. A user visits a bunch of websites. The user will be grouped into buckets with other users with similar or shared interests. Right now, we have individual user data. That goes away, and you have buckets. You do not know who is in that bucket, their location data, and none of their history. 

How Does A Nonprofit Apply For the Google Ad Grant?

Nonprofits who wish to apply for the Google Ad Grant program have to go through several steps to become eligible. You will not be able to use the program without the basic steps first. It can take between 2-4 months to get through all the application process steps, which must be completed in a specific order, to get the $10,000 per month advertising credits.

Step One : Apply For & Be Approved Through TechSoup

TechSoup has its own eligibility requirements for nonprofits. It’s worthwhile for every nonprofit eligible to sign up for TechSoup to do so. The technology catalog has hundreds of offers and discounts. Many tech companies, such as Amazon Web Services (as of 2021- AWS offered $1000 per year in credits for nonprofits), require nonprofits to validate through TechSoup to get credits or discounts. TechSoup handles the validation process for Google For Nonprofit. Nonprofits must start with the validation process as early as possible.

Even if your organization is not eligible for Google for Nonprofits, you may still be eligible for other discounted and free TechSoup products. So go ahead and still go through this verification process!!!! 

Who Is TechSoup?

TechSoup is a nonprofit that connects nonprofits, foundations, and public libraries with technology donations and discounts and provides learning resources to help them make informed technology decisions. TechSoup’s 600,000+ community — nonprofits, foundations, and public libraries worldwide — have saved more than US$4.5 billion. 

Requirements For TechSoup Account

TechSoup has an eligibility quiz. However, nonprofits with a valid tax-exempt status or charity registration number should create an account. TechSoup will ask for information about the nonprofit, including the Employer Identification Number (EIN) for nonprofits in the United States (USA). Below are a few images to help you with the TechSoup Account creation process (note that these steps may have changed).

The best way to set up the account is with a general email that 3-4 people in your organization will have access to if the administration changes.  

They have antivirus programs, discounted computers, servers, and networking equipment—Quickbooks 2019-including nonprofit addition for $50 admin fee verse $499 annual licensing fee.

Step Two: Apply For Google For Nonprofit

Google Ads Grant Eligibility

Nonprofits must first be approved for the Google for Nonprofit (G4N) program. Some countries are excluded from Google For Nonprofit program. Since Google Ad Grant is a program under G4N,  check country or location registration requirements. (Be registered as a charitable organization in a country where Google for Nonprofits is available). 

Non-eligible entities for Google Ads Grant:

  • Governmental entities and organizations,
  • Hospitals and medical groups,
  • Schools, academic institutions and universities, and nonprofits (Google for Education offers a separate program for schools, Philanthropic arms of educational institutions are eligible). Fiscally sponsored organizations that do not have their own 501(c)(3) status and are not covered by group exemption are not eligible for the Google for Nonprofits program.
  • Approval is to Google for Nonprofit’s discretion.

Google Ads Grant Who’s Eligible

Nonprofits must be in good standing as legally registered organization. TechSoup validates eligibility for nonprofits in the United States through the Internal Revenue Services (IRS). Your legal name must match across all documentation. Charitable nonprofits in other countries must also be in good standing, and meet the complete eligibility requirements in their country.

Nonprofits in the United States:

  • Organizations must be recognized by the IRS as tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organizations formed for charitable, educational, religious, literary, scientific, or other tax-exempt purposes.
  • Churches are eligible to apply for Google For Nonprofits and Google Ads Grant. Organizations, such as churches that are automatically considered tax-exempt under group exemption, must still obtain recognition of 501(c)(3) tax exemption from the IRS to qualify for the Google for Nonprofits program.
  • Organizations must be validated by TechSoup.

Although addiction treatment nonprofits are eligible for the Google Ad Grant program, they may not be able to advertise services because of Google Ads’ strict policy on addiction treatment. If your nonprofit is in the addiction field or medically related, you may have to go through LegitScripts and pay an additional $3,000 or more to use addiction-related keywords. Specific medically related organizations may have to go through LegitScript before any ads are eligible for Google Ads Search campaigns to appear.

Google Ad Grant Website Issues

Before you apply for Google Ad Grant, your website needs to have substantial content and meet the website policies. Read all of the Google Ads Grant support documentation. One critical issue I see consistently in the support forums is the inability to get approved because of website issues. If this is your nonprofit or you have an out-of-date website, read typical reason why nonprofits websites are not approved for Google Ads Grant.

Website Requirements For Google Ads Grant!

Google Ads Grant policy does not clearly state what a website’s substantial content entails. But here are a few pointers:

  • Five pages with little to no content will not cut it. Single-page websites are ineligible for the Google Ads Grant program.
  • Highlight research around your mission
  • Make sure you have a statement on your website that your organization is a 501 c 3 organization (put it in the footer of every page).
  • Install Google Analytics on your website and use it to track conversions.
  • Link Google Ads with Google Analytics and import conversion data.
  • Search engine optimize your organization’s website!
  • Ecommerce pages must have a statement on the website or annual report that states how the sale of products benefits your organization.
  • Remove any affiliate links or 3rd party commercial links websites on the organization’s website (Amazon Smile – is okay., but not Amazon affiliate marketing, No Share A Sale, or LinkSynergy, etc.).
  • Must maintain a 5% Click Through Rate on Filter Keywords each month.
  • You have two months from account approval to comply with Ad Grant policies. 
  • Create keyword-focused landing pages and content that connects with users.
  • Keywords with a quality score of 1 or 2 must be paused. Quality scores indicate how well your website matches the keyword.
  • The domain name must be valid. Any additional domains must be approved. Do not use other non-approved domains. Nonprofits organization must own their domain name.

Read the Google Ads Grant Documentation Before Applying

Save yourself time and avoid a headache. Read the Google Ads Grant documentation in full. If you have questions, there is a forum where you can ask questions. Google Ads Grant documentation clearly states DO NOT ENTER BILLING INFORMATION once the account is approved. If a regular Google Ads account already has billing information, it cannot be converted to a Google Ads Grant account. Use a new email account when creating a Google Ad Grant account. Email address linked to a regular Google Ads account cannot be used for Google Ads Grant accounts; you may have issues with the approval process.

Check to ensure that you do not currently have an active or inactive account. If you have an account, you will need to reactivate the account. 

Google Ads Grant offers two experiences: smart campaigns (which Google Ads Grant manages for you) or the full experience you manage on your own.

Best Tips To Make Google Ad Grants Work For Nonprofits

Owned media is an old concept. However, content marketing is an effective method with Google Ads Grant. Produce content around your users. There are many content types; choose what works best for the nonprofit’s users. Anything you do on social media should have a home on your website. The website should own digital assets – including social media pictures and content. 

More things to do to prepare for Google Ads Grant

  • Conversion tracking setup is required for all new accounts. It must be set up correctly and nonprofits must get at least one conversion per month,
  • You must have 2 campaigns with two ad groups each and one responsive search ad per ad group, and two site links per ad {can be set up at the campaign level}.
  • Do not target campaigns to the world. Campaigns must geotarget a specific country.
  • The max daily budgets are $329.
  • Read Permission-Based Marketing by Seth Godin. It’s a super old book, but the concepts that he discusses in that book will help you build a strong email marketing program. 
  • Be persistent. Be consistent—educate yourself about the Google Ads Grants policies. Commit them to memory. Then start reading the Google Ads documentation. 
  • The heart of Google Ad Grants is keywords. Learn how to do keyword research. The heart of Google Ad Grants is keywords.
  • Take a psychological shift in mindset -Think like your user – Take yourself and your nonprofit out of the equations when you think about how users search. 
  • Understand seasonality. Segment your users. Everybody is not approachable as a donor. Everybody will not resonate with your message. 
  • Speak the user’s language. 

Sometimes. Google Ad Grant changes their application process without any notification. It’s best to visit the Google Ad Grants Support pages to get the new requirements. If you need assistance with the Google Ad Grant application process, I can assist. 

Download the free PDF (it was originally created for NetSquared Memphis. The PDF goes over the steps to get Google Ads Grant for Nonprofits. I will be redoing the PDF, but core content and concepts will remain. 

First Step: Google Ads Grant 

If you have questions, contact Jodie Mason.

Jodie provides auditing, restructuring and building PPC campaigns for nonprofits. She focuses on driving awareness to content, events, and important areas of your nonprofit organization's website. In her spare time, she loves baking awesome cookies, reading, and learning new tech topics! What question is she pondering at the moment: Are Hexa- chocolate (5 types of chocolate) chip chunk cookies, too decadent?