Google Ad Grants for Nonprofits: What You Need to Know

Samantha Lego • Feb 01, 2022
use this grant preparation toolkit

Grants are an integral component of a nonprofit’s continued success. As a form of fundraising, most nonprofit grant applications are time-consuming, complicated, and stressful for you and your staff. If you get the grant, it often has rigorous reporting requirements to stay abreast of.

We love grants, don’t get us wrong. In fact, we’re here to tell you about the one you might be aware of, but haven’t truly understood its potential: Google Ad Grants for nonprofits

Since 2003, Google has been helping nonprofit organizations all over the world, educating people about their mission, recruiting volunteers, raising more in donation dollars, and building a loyal supporter base with 10,000 per month in free ad spend. Unlike most grants, Google Ad Grants have a relatively simple application process.

The best news is, your organization is (likely) eligible.

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What are Google Ad Grants for Nonprofits?

Before you dive into the application process, let’s be clear on what exactly you’re applying for. A Google Ad Grant account gives eligible organizations up to $330 a day – for a total of up to $10,000 a month – in free, in-kind advertising.

Google Ads are the paid search ads that are placed at the top of Google’s search results based on the keywords included in the search query. In order for your organization’s ad to appear, you’ll need to bid on the relevant keywords using your Ad Grant money. This way, when people who are searching Google type in something related to your mission or your programs, your organization’s ad will pop up first.

Snapshot of Google Ads
How Google Ads Appear on Search Engine Results Pages

Advertising on Google can do a lot for your nonprofit. It’s not only about selling a service or a product. When you are strategic about the keywords you use and become more visible in the search results, and when used effectively, charitable organizations can achieve:

  • Increased visibility and reach for your nonprofit
  • Increased website traffic to key landing pages like your donation or volunteer forms
    Increased potential for online donations, new volunteers, event registrations, email subscriptions, peer-to-peer campaigns, etc.
  • Increased awareness for your blog or other educational resources

All of these things can help to drive your mission forward and inevitably push your organization to new heights. The opportunities are limitless. This grant will continue month over month as long as you meet Google’s compliance requirements, often replacing the need for an expensive marketing strategy. 

You’re One Step Closer to Writing the Perfect Grant Proposal!

Use this FREE Grant Preparation Toolkit to familiarize yourself with grantmakers and get access to a worksheet that can help structure your grant writing process. 

2. Are You Eligible for the Google Ad Grant?

Most, but not all, organizations are eligible for the Google Ad Grant. Unfortunately, these types of nonprofits can not currently apply:

  • Schools or educational institutions
  • Government organizations
  • Hospitals or healthcare organizations

You must also prove to Google that you are a legitimate charitable organization. This might look a little different depending on what country your organization operates in. 

United States Nonprofit Eligibility Requirements 

To qualify for Google Ad Grants for nonprofits, your organization must:

Canadian Nonprofit Eligibility Requirements 

To qualify for Google Ad Grants for nonprofits, your organization must:

Operating elsewhere? Over 50 countries have been added to the Google Ads for Nonprofits program. You can check any specific eligibility requirements for your country.

4 Steps to Prepare For Your Application

Being a registered charity or nonprofit organization in your country is the first step to a successful application, but there are a few other areas you must focus on before you apply. 

1. Register With TechSoup

Your organization must be registered with TechSoup, whether it’s the American arm, the Canadian arm, or any other country in which TechSoup’s Global Network operates. This is because TechSoup is an intermediary between your organization and Google. 

If you haven’t already, you will need to set up a new registration, or you can claim an existing nonprofit account. Heads up, it may take several days to receive your validation. 

2. Update Your Nonprofit’s Website 

Google is driven by online content. So it’s important to make sure your website content is top-notch considering your Google Ad Grant account will be tied to your nonprofit’s website. Besides, having a strong, searchable website is just plain old best practice if you want to survive in today’s digital world.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Your website has to be hosted on your own domain. Ie: mynonprofit.org versus mynonprofit.wordpress.com
  • You must have an SSL certificate installed. This means your URL appears as HTTPS: instead of HTTP: in the search bar.
  • Mobile-friendly designs are very important. Over 90% of the global internet population used a mobile device to access the web in 2020. More often than not, potential supporters are accessing your site from a smartphone or tablet. If your site isn’t optimized for mobile, there’s a high chance those visitors aren’t sticking around – and Google will penalize you for this.  
  • Is your information up to date? Make sure your address is right, your donation pages are set up according to best practices, and any upcoming events are correctly displayed. This will form the basis of a successful advertising campaign.
  • Do you have landing pages for specific campaigns or focus areas? You will need them for your Google Ad campaigns, however, they could and should be redistributed throughout your entire marketing efforts. If you’re setting up a Peer-to-Peer Campaign, you’ll want to direct your readers to this page versus a generic page like the homepage. 

With more targeted copy and Calls-to-Action (CTAs), you’ll have a better chance of converting your audience. 

  • Bonus points: Install Google Tag Manager. This will help you count and track who’s clicking on your CTAs.

Ultimately, you’re going to want your website to reflect your nonprofit’s brand as well as create enjoyable user experiences for your visitors. Use our 5-point checklist to audit your nonprofit’s website in preparation for your application.

3. Make Sure You Have A Clear Mission Statement

An excellent nonprofit mission statement can align team members, board members, volunteers, and supporters to commit to your cause. This is why it’s important to have it front and center both on your website, as well as on your grant application. 

With a clear and concise mission statement, Google will have a better understanding of what programs or services you’ll be using Google Ads to promote.

Craft Your Nonprofit’s Mission Statement with this FREE Template

Use this template to write a mission statement that keeps your team aligned and motivates your supporters to commit to your nonprofit’s cause.

Stay Up To Date On Eligibility Requirements

Google is constantly adapting and changing so keep in mind that these requirements may change. Make sure you double-check your eligibility before you begin the process. 

Ready to Apply? Follow These 3 Steps

Once you’re confident you have a strong grant application, it’s time to finally apply for your nonprofit’s Google Ad Grant. 

1. Sign Up for Google Nonprofits

It’s not just Google Ad Grants for nonprofits that you can take advantage of. Google offers a host of other benefits as part of their Google for Nonprofits program. Once you’re registered, you’ll have access to the YouTube Nonprofit Program, Google One Today, and other opportunities to elevate your organization. 

Expect questions surrounding your tax ID, contact information, and non-discrimination policies to name a few. 

Please keep in mind, this application may take several months to be approved. 

2. Activate Your Google Ads Account

Once you’re set up on Google Nonprofits, you can access Google Grants from within your Google account. You’ll be asked to fill out a 10-minute pre-qualification survey so Google can better understand your organization’s goals and recommend whether to use a version for Google Ads beginners or more experienced advertisers. Do NOT enter any credit card info. Ignore any prompt that pops up with billing information as you will set up the wrong type of account. 

Look for the option to “Activate” and submit your organization for review. 

3. Launch Your First Ad Grants Campaign

After being approved for pre-qualification, you’re ready to set up your first campaign! Follow their step-by-step instructions for getting started so you can plan, build, launch, and then optimize your first (of many) successful digital ads campaigns. 

With your first campaign set up, submit your account using the same steps as the pre-qualification process and Google will do a last and final review. This step takes around 10 business days.

man with megaphone

Start Your Google Ad Grants Journey Here

Use this free Guide to Google Ad Grants for Nonprofits to learn best practices on how to apply for and make the most out of your Google Ad Grants.

Google Ad Grants can support your nonprofit’s outreach and fundraising campaigns so you can get closer to achieving your goals and making more impact in your community. By following these steps and tips shared in this article, you can position your organization and team for a successful grant application process.