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Nonprofit guides

Your 2024 Guide to Google Ad Grants for Nonprofits

April 24, 2024

Advertising online is an avenue of fundraising your nonprofit can’t afford to not take advantage of, especially when it’s free. Google Ad Grants for nonprofits are your way to reach new audiences, spread your mission, and increase donations without a marketing budget.

To make the most of the program, you'll want to understand how it works and what makes nonprofits successful. Whether it's your first time advertising through Google or you're looking to level up, we’ll help you make the most of your 2024 campaigns. 

This is your complete guide to understand:

What is the Google Ad Grant program?

Google Ad Grants is a philanthropic program that offers qualified nonprofits a $10,000 monthly credit to advertise a web page of their choice. Google ads give charitable causes a way to reach supporters and build their community with people they may not have access to without the ads.

Since 2003, Google Ad Grants has given over $9 billion in free advertising to over 115,000 nonprofits in more than 50 countries.

There are many ways to take advantage of the program, but let's first look at what Google ads are.

How do Google Ad Grants work for nonprofits?

If you think about searching just about anything on Google, you'll notice specific results labeled "sponsored." This is an easy way to spot examples of Google ads that other organizations or individuals have paid for.

The more money you invest in an ad, the higher it can appear in search results. For that reason, the ad is more likely to be seen by users looking for a topic related to your ad’s content.

Results are all based on keywords and location, which you can use to pair your Google ad with a topic someone will most likely search. Sponsored results appear before organic (or not paid for) results that purely rely on search engine optimization (SEO).

The $10,000 monthly Google Ad Grant funds can help nonprofits bid on keywords to place any of the following pages they need more eyes on:

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For example, when you search for "NYC food bank," you can see a sponsored result pop-up that the Food Bank for NYC paid for. By having money behind its ad, the organization shows up before the many other New York food banks on the page.

They make the most of the "NYC" specific location keywords and the search term "food bank." Both are common phrases that someone might type into Google to arrive at the ad.

Are Google Ad Grants free for nonprofits?

Google Ad Grants are essentially free advertising. Unlike a typical nonprofit grant that awards money, these are in-kind grants.

Google offers its technology service and covers the cost of pricey ad placements that many for-profit businesses have come to rely on. Over 80% of businesses worldwide use Google ads with Google search result page placement to support their promotional strategies.

Learn about the top grants for nonprofits in 2024

Who’s eligible for Google Ad Grants?

Nonprofits around the world are eligible for Google Ad Grants. Of course, there are some specifications to meet before the ad credits become available, and you can get off and running with your first campaign. 

Google Ad Grant eligibility requirements

Currently, nonprofit organizations who meet the following criteria can apply:

Valid charity status in their respective country:

See full Google Ad Grant eligibility guidelines per country

Verified by Google: Google uses Percent to confirm a secure process for collecting donations from any pages the Google Ad Grant promotes.

Established website presence: All Google ads shared through grant credits must link to a website page.

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate to ensure web security: You can verify SSL certification by checking for a lock icon in the navigation bar in Google Chrome or clicking on a drop-down that will confirm (example below).

How to apply for Google Ad Grants

Step 1. Create a Google for Nonprofits account

Start by securing a Google for Nonprofits account. You can sign in to get started and head to step 2 if you have an existing account.

Information you'll need to create your Google for Nonprofits account:

You'll use this information to request an account and wait for verification, which should come within 2-14 business days.

A Google for Nonprofits account will also give you access to:

Step 2. Install Google Analytics on your website

To apply for a Google Ad Grant, you must also have Google Analytics installed and linked to your website. Not only will it help you with eligibility, but Google Analytics is a great asset to understand

Google Analytics can show you things like:

Once you have established Google Analytics, you can create a Google Tag Manager account to track website results.

To install Google Tag Manager on your nonprofit website:

Check out a full video from Google on account setup and installation. 

Step 3. Submit your site for review by the Google Ad Grants team

Once you're set up with your Google for Nonprofits account and Tag Manager is installed on your website, it's time to submit your site to the Google Ad Grants team. This process certifies that you meet eligibility criteria and typically takes three days.

When you complete this last verification step, you might come across a few options for your Google Ads account to consider.

If you're new to online advertising, consider choosing Smart Mode to get started. You can change to Expert Mode anytime but cannot revert once you switch.

Step 4. Launch your Ad Grants campaign

With that last stamp of approval, you're ready to run your first campaign. Google provides you with a simple way to get started with options to customize your campaign to whatever you're looking to achieve.

When you set up a Google ad campaign, you’ll be able to:

Your first campaign might be a trial run to see how things go. You can fine-tune your strategy each time you run a campaign and check out the results.

Benefits of Google Ad Grants for nonprofits

Reach more donors

Advertising on Google is a fantastic way to reach supporters who would never have known about your nonprofit otherwise. Approximately 99,000 searches happen through Google every second, for an incredible 8.5 billion daily searches.

Google states that organizations double the money they put into an ad. This means that a little push from Google Search and keyword bidding (free with your credits) can dramatically increase your chance of turning a visit into a donation. 

When you quantify the impact of Google, you can see how running ads with a strong budget behind them can expand your mission worldwide. Ads are also highly strategic at reaching the right people to take action based on your goals.

Recruit volunteers and grow your team

The tailored nature of Google ads allows you to get creative about who you want to reach and the page you'd like them to land on. Nonprofits can use ads to get in front of quality talent for employment or volunteer opportunities.

Hiring through word of mouth is effective, but it's nice to diversify your teams. Using specific factors like location and interests can help you create a call to action that welcomes people who may still need to learn about your organization.

An effective ad finds people who complement your culture and bring skillsets. The added benefit is that even if someone doesn't apply or ultimately start working with you, they learn about your cause and may become a supporter in another way.

Share multiple campaigns at once to drive donations

A well-rounded fundraising strategy features several donation opportunities throughout the year to attract donors in the way they like to give. A Google Ad Grant allows you to run multiple campaigns at once to reach your ideal audience with a personal touch.

For example, advertise an upcoming fundraising raffle with two ads running simultaneously. One might be tailored to younger donors who are local and attending in person, and one might be specific to virtual audiences.

As both ads run, your event gains registrants, awareness, and the potential to raise more money for your cause.

Attract sponsors and corporate partners

Corporate sponsors and partnerships are another goal that Google ads can support nonprofits with. Imagine creating an ad that shares new opportunities to get involved in workplace giving or partner on an exciting new project.

Corporations are increasingly looking for charitable causes to partner with. This makes sense, as 77% of consumers and 73% of investors want to associate themselves with companies with corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives.

With highly specific keywords, you can open the door to building relationships with businesses and organizations. Your ad can link to a landing page with more information about corporate sponsorships, the story behind your mission, and a way to start the conversation.

Educate the public and strengthen your community

There are many ways to see a return on investment for that $10,000 Google Ad Grant. While a specific campaign, hiring, or partnership opportunity could be a good fit for some ads, so is storytelling to build your loyal donor community.

As you look to ads to spread awareness among new audiences, you can invite people in to get to know your organization with a meaningful first impression.

A few call-to-actions you might consider linking to from a storytelling ad are:

From there, include a subtle yet easy-to-find button that links to a simple donation form for those ready to get involved. Another option could be a newsletter sign-up to gain valuable contact information in your donor management system and nurture relationships as campaigns and events launch.

5 Quick Tips: How to use Google ads for your nonprofit

Align your ad to a specific goal and audience

The first step to a successful Google ad campaign is to know your audience intently. You can see from the examples we listed above that tailoring your ads will help you get the most out of them.

It's important to lean into donor management to gather data such as:

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As you learn about your current donor base, you can get more strategic about the ads you want to run.

The following examples show you how to use that data to create ad goals:

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Start with a manageable amount of campaigns 

When you start, keep the number of campaigns you run simultaneously to a maximum of five. This will help you get a feel for how they perform, make tweaks, and get in the flow of bidding on keywords without too many going at once.

It's also easier to manage a handful of campaigns to see who from your team might need to be involved in the day-to-day handling of your Google Ads account. Remember that you can always increase ads over time; each one you run will teach you something new.

Optimize your web page

The ad is like the door you open and invite people to walk through, but the landing page they get to when they click is the space they'll arrive at. You want to make sure any page or campaign someone may land on is optimized to convert them to take a desired action.

Here are a few checklist items for a conversion-focused web page:

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Double-check your campaign with Google Ad Grants compliance

While your creativity is flowing, it's important to know Google Ad Grants come with a few rules to help things run smoothly. Keeping these handy will ensure you get your ad live smoothly.

Google Ad Grants compliance standards:

Track your progress

Last but certainly not least, you should be ready to track your progress with a good understanding of Google Analytics. Google offers fantastic tools to help you decipher audience behavior, track conversion, compare keywords, and more. 

Beyond that, you can also get ahead by setting up robust tracking and analytics within your fundraising software to see how ads correlate to donations. You can assess your ad performance each month, make tweaks, and continue to see your success with Google ads grow over time. 

The more data you use to make decisions, the more efficient your future Google Ads campaigns will be.

Round out your fundraising strategy with Zeffy

Google Ad Grants can help your nonprofit raise more than ever with more reach, more donors, and more personal relationship building. Zeffy makes it easy to create and host campaigns and donation pages to advertise at no cost. 

Zeffy’s 100% free fundraising platform helps you continue to see funds go to the places, projects, and initiatives that matter with no hidden fees or monthly subscriptions required.

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