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How Nonprofits Can Leverage Google’s Free Ad Grant Program To Increase Performance



When most people think about nonprofits, they likely think of a group making a difference in their community. Maybe they think of a large organization such as Make-A-Wish, or maybe they think about a local animal shelter.


Funnel Digital Marketing is proud to partner with nonprofits so they can better serve their missions through digital advertising, and a big thing we keep in mind with these partnerships is to keep costs as low as possible so dollars are maximized to drive performance.


With cost-effectiveness in mind, Funnel highly recommends nonprofits leverage Google’s grant program for Search Engine Marketing.


This post summarizes what this program provides and how Funnel can help launch and manage this initiative.


What Is The Google Ad Grants Program?

The Google Ad Grants Program gifts free text-based ads against search queries to select 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. As of 2019, qualifying non-profit organizations are eligible to receive up to $10,000 per month in advertising to serve their missions and initiatives on Google.com.

To qualify, nonprofits must go through the application process and meet the following organizational criteria:

  • Be recognized by the government as a current and valid charity with 501(c)(3) status

  • Have a functioning website that details the nonprofit’s purpose

  • Agree to Google’s requirements for maintaining the grant


Google Ad Grants are not available to the following types of organizations:

  • Government entities and organizations

  • Hospitals and medical groups

  • Schools, childcare centers, academic institutions, and universities (however, philanthropic arms of educational organizations are eligible, and Google has other grant programs for educational institutions)


The following restrictions also apply:

  • A program can only spend up to $329 per day (totaling $10,000 per month)

  • Ads can only appear on Google’s owned & operated search result pages (like Google.com)

  • A participant can only run text ads (some shopping-related ads can use images and are restricted under this program)

  • A participant must complete an annual survey to share impact data

  • The click-through rate (CTR) of the account as a whole must not fall below 5% for two consecutive months. Otherwise, the account is at risk for suspension.

  • New applicants must set up conversion tracking and switch to a non-manual bidding strategy within a few months of setting up their account.


Eligible nonprofit organizations can apply for Google Grants online. The approval process can take up to 10 business days.


How Funnel Digital Marketing Can Help

After a nonprofit is approved for the grant, many actions are required to launch ads, have them remain active, and ultimately perform. Here are some ways Funnel can help nonprofits accomplish these steps:


Funnel Can Create And Manage All Assets

Search Engine Marketing is a complex marketing channel. It requires building the right keywords to show against the most relevant queries, writing ad copy that drives engagement from searchers, setting the right audience targets, and much more.


Across the team, Funnel has decades of experience working with paid search ads. We know from our expertise what works and doesn’t, and we stay current on the latest paid search changes and trends. We’ll be able to make the right keywords and messaging, implement the right settings, and read the data to make optimizations that will improve performance over time.


Funnel Can Keep The Grant’s Account Compliant

Upon receipt of a Google Grant, the grantee must follow a number of rules to remain in the program. Here are some examples:

  • All ads must link to the nonprofit’s URL approved during the application process

  • All recipients must be proactive in managing their account and log-in at least once per month

  • All copy within ads must reflect the mission of the nonprofit.

  • All proceeds of products sold must go to supporting the nonprofit’s mission

  • Ads cannot be used to primarily send visitors to other websites

  • Ads cannot offer financial products, such as mortgages or credit cards

  • Ads cannot be asking for donations in the form of large goods such as cars, boats or property donation


Other grant rules require an in-depth knowledge of how the Google Ads platform works, and mistakes can lead to an account’s suspension. Here are some examples:

  • Nonprofits cannot appear against branded queries they don’t own (for example, Make-A-Wish cannot have an ad that appears against the query “Coca-Cola”)

  • 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

  • Accounts also must have at least two sitelink extensions active

  • Accounts must have geotargeting

  • Most single-word keywords are prohibited


Funnel’s management of the grant account ensures all these rules are being followed when a campaign goes live. Additionally, Funnel also maintains a proprietary program that will automatically fix issues if a rule is inadvertently broken, and we’ll proactively address the problem before an issue arises with Google.


Funnel Will Improve Your Account’s Performance

Nonprofits have experienced a lot of success with the Google Grant Ads program, and Google lists many examples on their website illustrating this.


Nonprofits who have worked with Funnel have experienced successes as well thanks to our management.


For example, Atlanta Audubon Society is a nonprofit organization with the mission of building places where birds and people thrive. They accomplish this through conservation, education, and advocacy. When the organization started working with Funnel, we did a complete overhaul of Atlanta Audubon's Google Grant account to ensure best practices were being followed and to fully comply with Google's  requirements. As a result, Atlanta Audubon's search visitors driven from Google's text ad program increased +1500% in one week in comparison to the account's previous two months.


For more examples on how we’ve helped organizations, check out Funnel’s “Our Work” page.


Have Questions Or Need Help?

Reach out to Funnel today for a free consultation!


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