There are a couple of things that grind my gears regarding documentation on Google:

  1. Guides that aren’t as in-depth as they should be, especially for newcomers that aren’t familiar with new initiatives.
  2. Google’s user experience with hard to find documentation. I wanted to create a guide that brings clarity to any prospective organization that wants free advertising from ad-words and for them to properly utilize the platform.

This guide will provide all of the nitty gritty regarding the process of getting your non-profit and other related organizations.

NOTE: Non-profits are a specialized industry we cater to. While we hope this guide can provide all information needed, Jomonjo can assist in setting up and managing your account. Contact us for assistance.

Select the appropriate section to get started:

  1. So, what is Google Ad Grants?
  2. How to Get Approved for Google Ad Grants (Step-by-step)
  3. Should you choose Google Adwords Express or Google Adwords?
  4. Limitations & Details of Google Ad Grants
  5. Requirements to Maintain Your Google Ad Grant Eligibility
  6. Tips For Success on Google Ad Grants
  7. Why was my organization rejected from Google Ad Grants?
  8. Summary

So, what Is Google Ad Grants?

Google Ad Grants is an amazing program that allows nonprofits to advertise to Google AdWords without paying a dime.  As long as your organization is eligible, you’ll be able to spend $10,000 per month in AdWords spend to promote your initiatives within the Google platform. The program is designed to help organizations extend their public service messages to a global audience for the greater good.

How To Get Approved for Google Ad Grants

Step 1: Make sure you are eligible for Google Grants

To be eligible for Google Grants, your business must have the following (according to Google)

  1. Have a current & valid charity status for your country (Almost in all cases you need a 501(c)3 if you are in the US)
  2. Acknowledge and agree to Google’s required certifications regarding nondiscrimination and donation receipt and use.
  3. Have a website that is well functioning and provides thorough detail of your nonprofit (AKA: A legitimate looking site to match your legitimate nonprofit)

The following organizations cannot be eligible for Google Grants (with exceptions):

  • Governmental entities and organizations
  • Hospitals and medical groups
  • Schools, childcare centers, academic institutions, and universities
    • Exceptions include: Philanthropic arms of educational organizations are eligible

Essentially, you need to be a non-profit organization. Alternatively, if you are a ‘philanthropic arm of educational organizations’ you are also eligible. So you might be asking, ‘what are examples of a philanthropic arm of an educational organization?’

  • If you have a charitable cause that is in support of a school/institution but is not the school itself then it counts.
  • Example 1: Program that helps at-risk youth that uses a university for teachings.
  • Example 2: Organization that assists teens with mental disabilities the right tools and assistance to get through high school and gets them into a particular college.

While these types of programs revolve around education, they aren’t actual institutions or schools.

Step 2: Make sure you are registered in the right places before applying

Since Google Grants’ inception, over 35000 non-profits are taking part in the program. Since it is a global initiative, Google wants to make sure legitimate non-profits are applying. That’s why they have partnered with TechSoup to have all non-profits in one place.

Local TechSoup partners check a range of legal and programmatic information related to your organization that help verify your organizations status as a legally registered and active social benefit, nonprofit, nongovernmental organization, eligible for the products and services made available through TechSoup.

All organizations must be registered with the local TechSoup partner in their country and be validated as a nonprofit organization.  

So before you apply, you will need to do the following:

  1. Register with TechSoup – Once you register you’ll be asked to provide a wide array of information so that TechSoup can validate your organization. NOTE: It can take up to 30 days to be validated so be patient.
  2. Upon approval, retrieve your TechSoup validation token – Assuming you are validated by TechSoup or a local TechSoup partner, you can TechSoup account. Upon logging in you will be presented with a TechSoup Validation Token which will look something like this: 123c492@MyOrgName. Your token will be valid for 60 days.

Step 3: Apply For Google Grants

At this point, you’ll have everything you need to apply for Google Grants. Make sure you are using an email in your organization so that you can take advantage of all other Google products as well.

This is where having your TechSoup validation token will be crucial.  Otherwise, you won’t be able to apply for Google Grants.

Step 4: Wait for an approval

Most applications will be reviewed within 10 business days. If your application requires a closer look, Google may request additional information. Luckily you won’t have to be left in the dark completely during this last step. While you’re waiting, you can sign in to your Google for Nonprofits account at any time to check the status of your application.

Step 5: You are approved!

This step isn’t always guaranteed. More often than not you’ll need to do some back and forth with Google to iron out some details. But if you are approved, you will be able to start using Google ads immediately!

Should You Choose Google Adwords Express or Google Adwords?

Once you get approved and you first create your account, you’ll have the option to choose Adwords Express or standard Google Adwords.

Adwords vs Adwords Express Comparison

Personally, choosing Adwords Express means leaving money off of the table and burning money is not a pass-time I recommend for anyone. Especially for companies using the Google Grants program. Always choose regular Adwords. 

Limitations & Details of Google Ad Grants

Before you go gung-ho on your campaigns, there are still several restrictions to remember and details to keep in mind once you are approved for the program.

For starters: All of your advertising will exclusively be on the Google Search network. This means you won’t be able to leverage Google display ads, youtube campaigns, or be able to use Google’s search partners. When you are setting up campaigns you’ll have the option to select the types of campaigns you want, but you won’t actually be able to select options outside of the Google’s search network.

Only Google Search Network

Remember: For the most part, you will be setting up the AdWords account campaigns. Google will only give you the means to give free advertising, but it will not set up your campaigns nor optimize them for you. Also note, above we recommend choosing the Google Adwords account over the express option. While the express option is simpler to use, it removes any possibility of your campaigns to run optimally.

If you would like assistance in getting your campaigns up and running and to connect the dots from Attention-to-Action, we can provide the right skills and training to make that happen. Non-profits often struggle in this process as mentioned in another article. It’s not always the case, but we see it frequently. Contact us today for assistance.

Other restrictions include:

  • Your ads will appear below competitor ads that aren’t using the Google Grants Program. Often this is on the bottom of the page. (NOTE: Branded terms can show up on top of the page in our experience)
  • Again: Ads will only appear in search on Google’s network, nowhere else.
  • You can spend up to $10,000 USD per month -> which is $329 per day USD.
  • Max Cost Per Click (CPC) limit is set to $2.00. Alternatively, if you set up a smart bidding strategy such as,”Maximize Conversions”, “Target CPA”, or “Target ROAS”, then Adwords will automatically set bids to help get the most conversions for your campaign. Often, Google will allow CPC to be more than $2 if appropriate for your account goals.

If you are wondering if you don’t spend the $10,000 by the end of the month will it rollover for the following month. The answer is no, if you don’t use the money then it resets for the next month.  The good news is that you can afford to try and test many campaigns with no risk at all!

How can you make sure that my budget is spent effectively?
If you are spending the maximum amount daily, here are a couple of tips for making sure that your budget is used effectively:

  • Give a larger share of the budget for campaigns that are more important to your advertising goals.
  • Use keywords and ads that are specific to your organization’s goals. Keeping your ads and keywords relevant can improve your Quality Score, keeping costs down.

Requirements to Maintain Your Google Ad Grant Eligibility

By now you should have a thorough enough understanding of what Google Ad Grants is, getting approved, and understanding limitations. The last piece of the puzzle is maintaining your account. The last thing you want is to have your account suspended or canceled due to failed requirements. If that does happen, check out our guide to getting your Google Ad Grant account back from suspension. So, what are the requirements for keeping your eligibility?

  • You must maintain a 5% click-through-rate (CTR) on your account every month. Failure to have this over a 2-month span will put you at risk of losing your eligibility. This used to be a 1% minimum until it was changed on January 1, 2018.
  • You cannot buy branded keywords you don’t own (this mainly is to prevent bidding on competitors)
  • Active keywords must have quality scores of 3 or higher.
  • Campaigns must have at least two ad groups with at least two ads running in each ad group.
  • Your account must have at least two site link extensions active.
  • Your campaign must have geotargeting enabled.
  • All the ads in your account must link to the nonprofit URL that was approved in your application process.
  • You need to log into your account at least once a month. if not then the account is paused without notification.
  • You cannot have ads from AdSense or other advertising links.
  • Ads must reflect the mission of your nonprofit. You can sell items or services as long as all the proceeds support your program.
  • Your landing pages cannot be used to send visitors to other websites.
  • Your ads cannot offer financial products, such as mortgages or credit cards. Your ads also cannot be asking for donations in the form of large goods such as cars, boats or property donations. Keywords related to this activity are also not allowed.

While this list does appear to be intimidating, having a solid AdWords foundation and updating it frequently should be enough to keep your eligibility. If you are nervous about keeping your Google Ad Grants account eligible, feel free to reach out to us.

Tips For Success on Google Ad Grants

There are plenty of sources out there that can help you dominate your Adwords campaigns. Since there are limitations and restrictions on Google Ad Grants, I strongly recommend following the basics to get started. Google has a simplified tip sheet to get the most out of your ad grant. Their foundational tips are:

  1. Structure your account
  2. Create effective ads
  3. Choose the right keywords
  4. Target your audience
  5. Track what action people take after clicking on your ad
  6. Automatically set bids for your goals

Feel free to check out their tip-sheet or check out my “basic AdWords setup for Google Ad Grants” SlideShare below.

Why was my organization rejected from Google Ad Grants?

There are several reasons why Google has decided to reject your application for Google Ad Grants. We do recommend that you call a Google representative to provide you specific details. Here are some of the top reasons.

Reason 1: Your organization didn’t meet the following requirements

  • 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. For more information.
  • Organizations that rely on the group 501(c)(3) exemption of a central (“umbrella”) organization can apply to Google for Nonprofits as a “related organization.”
  • Organizations, such as churches, that are automatically considered tax-exempt must still obtain recognition of 501(c)(3) tax exemption from the IRS to qualify for the Google for Nonprofits program.
  • Google and the US government want to make sure no stone is left unturned when it comes to grants. Make sure your organization is on top of that.

Reason 2: Your website doesn’t have enough information about your non-profit.

  • Make sure your website has enough content. Having a one-page site will not cut it.
  • Have “about us”, “our mission”, and other pages related to your organization that establishes credibility.
  • Make sure your mission is clear on your website.

Reason 3: Your website is down or in-construction

  • Don’t rush the process. If you are building a new website or it’s not complete, don’t apply. It’s better to get this done right and be patient, then to rush and get in an endless cycle of emails with Google that could take months.
  • Make sure your site has good hosting and not under construction (no launch pages, no 404 pages)

Reason 4. Your organization is a very new non-profit and it might not be updated in the GuideStar database, even though it’s in the IRS database.

We get that it the process can be frustrating, but be patient! All of these reasons for rejection doesn’t mean your organization can never be involved. If you believe you were rejected for one of these reasons or you believe your organization was wrongly rejected, we recommend checking out the following places for help.

In Summary

Over 35,000 non-profits have taken part in the Google Grants program. Considering there are over 1 million+ non-profits in the United States alone, there is a lot of room for organizations to take advantage of Google’s Ad Grant program. My goal is to help bring awareness to these non-profits and to hopefully make the step-by-step process less daunting. If your organization is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and not on Google Ad Grants, you need to take advantage right away.

If you know of any non-profit that could benefit from the program, please share this article to help bring awareness. And of course, if you need assistance, please reach out.