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The ultimate guide to Google Ad Grants for nonprofits

April 23, 2021
A team discusses how to make the most of Google Ad Grants for nonprofits over papers and a laptop on a table.

Your nonprofit organization relies on digital marketing to obtain more supporters and achieve your goals. But with so much of your resources devoted to running your programs, it can be difficult to set aside funds for digital marketing. 

Fortunately, there are several ways for nonprofits to market themselves online thanks to search engine marketing (SEM). SEM is a form of online advertising that seeks to promote websites by increasing their visibility in search engine results. Google, the most popular search engine and top choice for SEM advertisers, has addressed nonprofits’ needs for affordable advertising opportunities with its Ad Grants program. 

Let’s dive into everything your organization needs to know to take advantage of the Google Ad Grant. 

What is the Google Ad Grants program?

Google Ad Grants offers eligible nonprofits $10,000 worth of monthly advertising space for relevant keywords at the top of the search engine results page, which is the most visible space on the site. While this spot is usually sold to advertisers who pay per click, Google gives a portion of its ad space to nonprofits for free. 

Who is eligible for the Google Ad Grants program?

Most nonprofits are eligible for the Google Ad Grants program. All accredited 501(c)(3) organizations can apply excluding: 

  • Schools and universities
  • Government organizations
  • Healthcare organizations and hospitals

Before applying, ensure that your 501(c)(3) status is active and updated with your current information to secure eligibility.

What are the benefits of the Google Ad Grants program?

Free advertising space tailored to relevant keywords will get your organization’s message in front of the right audiences. Along with significantly widening your nonprofit’s online reach, the main benefits of this program include:

  • Funds saved: $10,000 a month will go a long way for any nonprofit marketing program. This program is especially valuable for nonprofits with smaller budgets because it levels the playing field between them and more mature organizations. 
  • Significant return on investment (ROI): Not only will your organization save funds outright, but you’re also likely to achieve a high ROI. On average, Google Ad ROIs are 2:1, meaning you’ll receive $2 worth of value for every $1 “spent.” And this is all without spending a penny of your nonprofit’s own money!
  • Measurable results: Google Analytics makes it easy for you to monitor metrics such as click-through rate, site traffic, and demographic information about your ad visitors. These insights help you understand your target audience better and improve your overall marketing strategy.

Because it offers so many features, this powerful tool can have a learning curve. To save time and effort, many nonprofits invest in a Google Ad Grants consultant to run their campaigns. While hiring a consultant is an additional cost, these experts understand how to succeed on the platform. They’ll oversee the application process and create a winning marketing strategy for your campaign. Hiring a consultant can also improve your ROI even further.

What does the Google Ad Grants application process look like?

Google provides detailed information about how to apply to its Ad Grants program. Here are the main steps you need to follow: 

  • Set internal goals for the ad campaign: This is a critical step during any campaign planning process. Your goals will shape your keyword targeting strategy and which metrics you’ll monitor, so ensure you cement your objectives before applying. Some common goals include maximizing awareness of your organization and purpose and acquiring more supporters.
  • Enroll in Google for Nonprofits: This platform provides free tools for nonprofits, including Google Ads. Create your account by providing your tax ID number and contact information. 
  • Activate Ad Grants: After your nonprofit is approved, you’ll get an email with steps to activate your account. Once your account is configured, you’ll gain access to your Ad Grants profile. This is where you’ll create ads for the campaign and access your dashboard. 

Take some time to learn the dashboard’s capabilities and how to leverage them to achieve your objectives. Even if you’re working with a consultant, you should comprehend how all of your marketing channels function so you can troubleshoot when necessary. 

Making the most of Google Ad Grants for nonprofits

Setting up your Google Ad Grants account is just the beginning. Revisit the lessons you’ve learned from previous marketing initiatives and apply your knowledge to your new campaign. As long as you have a firm grasp of your goals and target audience, Google Ad Grants will take your digital marketing strategy to the next level.

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    Donor Engagement
  • Nonprofits
  • Digital communications & marketing