Skip to Main Content

Oct 11, 2019 BY A Mighty Citizen Marketing, Web Development

Insider’s Guide to Google Ad Grants: Google Ads for Nonprofits

Note: This article was updated for accuracy on January 21st, 2020.

Google Ad Grants provide select 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations with $10,000 worth of Google Ads advertisements each month—to be used within the Google Ads search engine marketing platform.

Is your nonprofit eligible?

Google Ad Grants for nonprofits is part of the Google for Nonprofits program. To start taking advantage of this amazing opportunity, you’ll need to:

  • Apply to Google for Nonprofits.
  • Ensure that you hold valid charity status. See the Google For Nonprofits website for definitions of charity status.
  • Agree to Google’s required certifications regarding nondiscrimination and donation receipt and use.
  • Ensure that you have a live website with substantial content.

Important note: Government agencies, hospitals, schools, and academic institutions are not eligible for Google for Nonprofits. Philanthropic arms of educational institutions are eligible.

Program Details for Google Grants for Nonprofits

Google Ads is Google’s targeted pay-per-click (PPC) advertising product. When you search using Google, Google Ads advertisements are the first search results atop the page, usually with a small, green “Ad” icon next to them.

Here’s how the Google Ad Grants program for nonprofits works:

  • You’ll have a set monthly budget of $10,000 (or $329 daily).
  • You are limited to a $2 maximum cost-per-click (CPC).
  • You are not eligible to appear on search partners or the display network.
  • Your ad will only appear on, which means text ads are the only available format.
  • If you don’t use the $10,000 monthly budget, you lose it. Your budget does not carry over month after month.

These limitations make running an Google Ad Grant campaign more difficult than a traditional paid account. But there are ways to maintain your eligibility and get the most out of this free marketing tool!

Mighty Insights

Strategies for online marketing delivered to your inbox

How to Structure Your Google Ads Account

You’ve received eligibility. You understand the stipulations involved in using your $10,000 Google Ads in-kind donation. You know that the original Ads platform will show the best return on investment.

You’re now ready to implement your advertisements. What should be your first step in structuring your Ads account?

1. Keyword research

There is a keyword research tool directly within the Google Ads platform called Keyword Planner (listed under Tools & Settings in the top menu). You can use Keyword Planner to explore your keyword ideas and view their average monthly search volume and competitiveness. High search volume and low competition is the golden combination you’re looking for! This means people are searching for the keyword consistently and there won’t be many other ads competing with you.

So, which keywords will you bid on? More importantly, what terms can you bid on with your limiting $2 cost-per-click cap? Think of it like you’re entering an arcade with a whopping $10,000 to spend on tokens, but you’re only allowed to play the games that cost $2 or less per game.

Keyword research is the most important part of your advertising plan. Your best bet is to focus on long-tail keywords. For example, if I am using a Google Ad Grant to attract donations for cancer research, I’m going to perform keyword research around “cancer research donations.” I might start by typing the following five keywords into Keyword Planner:

And you’ll generate results like so:

These keywords at the top of the list all have high search volume, and hooray—some of them also have a Low Competition score! Of course, very few of these will be perfectly relevant to your organization, making the choice fairly easy in most cases.

The higher the Competition score, the higher the suggested bid will be. And remember, we’re looking for a Suggested Bid around $2 or less. So we want to put our money towards more specific long-tail keywords with a lower search volume. This will increase the likelihood of our ad being chosen to appear in the top four positions on Google’s Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

2. Negative keyword list

To avoid having a set of keywords that give you unwanted impressions or clicks, you can create a list of these negative keywords. These are words that won’t be used in placing your ads. Just add it to your negative keyword list and the change will apply to all of the campaigns that share the list.

3. Ad Groups

Split your keywords into different categories to create highly targeted and relevant ads—and to easily monitor the performance of your keywords.

For example, you could have one ad group focused on donations, one to promote services and events, and another for reaching out to recruit volunteers. This distinction allows you to better track the progress of each campaign.

An example from our client TSAHC’s Ad Grants account

4. Ad Copy

The quality of your advertisement text (i.e., copy) is the biggest influence on whether people click it. This is your chance to tell your story. Follow these guidelines to ensure you’re creating the best content for your audience:

Include keywords in your ad text or title.

If your keywords appear in your ad text, users immediately recognize that your ad is relevant to their search.

Adopt a clear style.

Short, non-repetitive sentences work best. Double-check spelling and grammar, and avoid uncommon acronyms and abbreviations.

Identify the unique aspects of your organization and services.

What makes your website useful, relevant, and different? Call attention to the unique benefits you offer to attract more Google users. Example: “Search our physician database to find a specialist in your area” or “Chat with other breast cancer survivors.”

Include a strong call to action.

A “call to action” prepares your audience for what you want them to do: register, join, subscribe, and so on. Make sure that this phrase is unique and specific to your program so that it is more informative and compelling, and distinguishes you from the competition. (Examples: “Register for membership,” “Volunteer in your neighborhood today,” or “Call our confidential help line.”)

Ad Extensions

After you select your keywords and create your campaign’s ad groups, you’ll want to be sure to take advantage of Extensions, primarily Sitelink extensions. In recent years, Google has rolled out various extension options that expand your real estate on the SERP page and give users the information they need with one click. Google really wants you to set these up, so it’s a win-win!

Location extensions

Encourage people to visit your organization by showing your location, a call button, and a link to your organization details page—which can include your hours, photos of your organization, and directions to get there. If you want customers to visit your location but to call a centralized line (rather than specific locations’ numbers), use call extensions with your location extensions.

Callout extensions

Add additional text to your ad, like “free pick-up” or “tax deductible.” Callouts can be used to encourage people to convert offline.

Call extensions

Encourage people to call your organization by adding a phone number or call button to your ads.

Message extensions

Encourage people to send you text messages from your ad. Available globally at the campaign or ad group levels.

Sitelink extensions

Link people directly to specific pages of your website (like “donate online” and “volunteer today”). Here’s an example of an ad with Sitelink extensions for “Programs & Services” and “Donate by Mail or Phone”:

Conversion Tracking

Conversion tracking is a powerful tool in Ads that lets you identify how well your ad campaigns are generating leads, sales, downloads, email sign-ups, and other key actions for your organization. The data recorded by conversion tracking can pull directly into your Google Analytics account, allowing you to identify which areas of your campaign are working and not working, so you can optimize your bids, ad text, and keywords accordingly.

Make sure you have Goals set up in Google Analytics, then link your Google Ads and Analytics accounts by going to Tools & Settings > Conversions in Google Ads. This will allow the accounts to automatically track goal completions that come from your Google Ads as conversions.

The Final Word

Google Ad Grants for Nonprofits can be a powerful tool for your online marketing strategy. Google Ads gives you to power to put your organization in front of people who are actively searching for what your organization does.

This might seem overwhelming, but if you follow these steps, you’ll be up and running in no time. Be sure to check out our complete guide to Google Ad Grants here. And if you need assistance, be sure to get in touch!

Copyright © 2022 Mighty Citizen. All rights reserved.