Nonprofit organizations often work with tight budgets, as most of their funds come through donations. A challenge for such a nonprofit is going to be its marketing: how can it reach the most amount of people while still spending the majority of its budget on performing the actual charity work? Well, technology is here to help and this time it’s from internet search giant Google. Google’s Ad Grant program helps nonprofit organization use its AdWords digital advertising platform to increase the exposure of their website.
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What is Google Ad Grants?
Think of Google Ad Grants as the nonprofit version of Google AdWords. And it’s not some stripped-down version of the platform either – you retain all of the functionality of regular AdWords. Google gives nonprofit organizations a budget of $10,000 per month to advertise on the AdWords platform. This works out to about $329 USD per day.
So if you’re running a nonprofit organization and are looking to increase the reach of your noble cause, the Google Ad Grants program seems like a pretty straight-forward choice, right?
Not quite, as Google has stringent procedures through which it vets organizations to be eligible for its free advertising program. Of course, these strict guidelines are in place so no one abuses the system but it also places a significant barrier to charities that don’t have full-fledged digital marketing departments.
Google Ad Grants Eligibility Criteria
If you work at a non-profit and the Google AdWords for nonprofits program sounds enticing, then you must be aware of the eligibility criteria that comes along with it.
To be eligible for Google Ad Grants an organization must:
- Hold a current and valid charity status in one of the approved countries: For example in the US, you must have a current 501(c)(3) status. In Australia, you must be registered with your local TechSoup partner (Connecting Up) and be validated as a nonprofit organization.
- Not one of the of the following:
- Government entity or organization
- Hospital or healthcare organization
- School, childcare centre, academic institution or university. Please note that philanthropic arms of education institutions are still eligible.
- Acknowledge and agree to Google Grant’s required certifications: These certifications outline the methods used to receive donations and the way in which these donations will be used afterwards.
- Have a functioning website that provides adequate detail: The website should be fully functional and ideally should have some sort of a mechanism to receive donations. It should also provide adequate information about your charity and its purpose.
- For Australian nonprofits, the requirements are:
- Organisations must be registered with ConnectingUp, TechSoup Global’s regional arm.
- Organisations must be a non-government, non-profit entity that is income tax exempt (ITE) as defined by Australian Charities and Non-Profits Commission (ACNC) and/or Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
How to Maintain Google Ad Grant Eligibility
Getting a Google Ad Grant can be quite challenging, especially for charities and nonprofits that don’t have experienced digital marketing resources in-house. However, getting a Google Ad Grant is only part of the challenge, as you have to actively ensure that your eligibility is maintained by way of following strict guidelines set by Google.
- All of the ads in your account must link to the nonprofit URL as specified in your Google Ad Grant application.
- You must be actively engaged in your Google Ad Grant campaign, logging in at least once a month. Failing to comply with this rule will result in your account being paused without notification.
- The ads you put to use must reflect the purpose of your mission effectively. You can also sell products as long as you ensure that 100% of the proceeds will go on to supporting your nonprofit organization.
- Your ads cannot lead to a landing page on your site whose prime purpose is to send visitors to other sites.
- Your ads cannot offer financial products such as credit cards or mortgages. Donations should be in the form of money, and not goods such as cars, boats or property.
- Your website is not allowed to participate in Google AdSense or affiliate advertising links (such as Amazon Affiliates).
Violation of any of the above-stated guidelines will result in your removal from the Google Ad Grant program. These guidelines can be changed at any time so always stay up to date.
Restrictions on Google Ad Grant Advertisements
Along with the eligibility criteria and member guidelines, you’ll also need to set of rules for your Ad Grant ad campaigns:
- Previously, Google had a maximum cost-per-click (CPC) limit of $2 USD, but that has been lifted as long as you use their ‘Maximize Conversions’ bid strategy. Under this strategy, Google will automatically measure the ideal bid for you using machine learning, leading to optimized campaigns. In the past, Google Ad Grant members had to set bids really low due to the limit of $2 USD, which resulted in lesser clicks.
- Daily budget is set at $329 ($10,000 USD per month).
- Your ads will only appear on Google.com – you cannot use Search Partners.
The real challenge with Google Ad Grants is that you’ll oftentimes find it hard to spend the $10,000 USD monthly limit because of the ad and keyword restrictions. What’s more, Google has a policy where if you don’t have a CTR (click-through rate) of at least 5%, your Ad Grant will be paused.
Because of all the factors involved in managing a Google Ad Grant , it can be complex for nonprofits to manage it. Getting a Google Ad Grant is hard enough, but maintaining it is the real challenge. That is why it’s imperative that nonprofits employ skilled Adwords Managers. Ideally, Google Adwords specialists who understand the Ad Grant comprehensively to effectively utilize it. Sure, a good Adwords consultant will come at a cost but then the organization is also getting $10,000 in free ad money.
Of course, if the ads are being run successfully, then the Google Grant management cost will be completely negated.
A.P. Web Solutions works with several Australian Nonprofit organisations to help them set up and manage Google Ad grants. Here’s a screenshot of an NFP’s Google Analytics within a month of engaging our services: