Google Ad Grants for 501C3 Nonprofits: What You Need to Know

Your nonprofit is officially live: you’ve chosen a name, incorporated in your state of operation and applied for state and IRS tax exemption. You’ve appointed reliable directors, established a board and filed required permits. You maintain a firm grip on your finances and understand both your mission and your services.

The Time Has Come to Make a Difference Through a Google Ads Nonprofit Grant.

Strict nonprofit budgets often force organizations into tough decisions. Fortunately, Google offers a portfolio of entirely free, value-based tools qualifying nonprofit organizations, a list of benefits headlined by their nonprofit Google Ads grant: $10,000 in monthly, free advertising, across the world’s most used search engine.

Without further delay, let’s unpack Google’s chief benefit to nonprofit organizations – the Google Ads Nonprofit Grant.

Step 1: Meeting the Qualifications

Nonprofits are eligible to receive $10,000 in monthly Google Ads if they accommodate Google’s qualifications. In order to receive this Nonprofit Google Ads grant, your nonprofit organization needs to meet the following standards:

Your organization MUST BE:

  1. Recognized as tax-exempt, a 510(c)(3) organization formed and operating for tax-exempt purposes.
  2. Operating a functional, factually correct website that clearly outlines your mission and goals.

Your organization CANNOT BE:

  1. Fiscally sponsored.
  2. A government entity or organization.
  3. A hospital or healthcare organization.
  4. A school, academic institution or university. If you’re interested in earning support for your educational entity, check out resources available from Google for Education.

Don’t meet the above requirements? We still want to work with you. Reach out to discover how we can help you transform your digital marketing efforts!

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Now that we know your nonprofit organization meets the above requirements, let’s move on to step two: registering your nonprofit organization with TechSoup.

Step 2: TechSoup Registration Made Painlessly

After ensuring that your nonprofit accommodates the above criteria, you’ll need to register your organization with TechSoup. A global network of nonprofit organizations, TechSoup has partnered with Google and serves as a gateway responsible for vetting your nonprofit organization before approval by Google. Register your nonprofit through TechSoup here.

Once you register your nonprofit through TechSoup, you’ll receive a Validation Token – a unique code string of letters and numbers. You’ll need that Validation Token when registering your nonprofit through Google.

Step 3: Requesting a Google Ads Nonprofit Account

After you’ve successfully verified the legitimacy of your nonprofit organization through TechSoup, you’ll need to create your Google for Nonprofits account.

Click the link above to get started!

You’ll first be asked to log in with your current Google account. If you don’t already have a Google account, you can
create one here. If you already have one, simply log in, and click “Continue”.

You’ll next be ushered through basic questions regarding the nature of your nonprofit. You’ll be asked to confirm that your organization accommodates the above standards; then, you’ll identify your country of operation, and you’ll provide basic registration information (your nonprofit ID/EIN, physical address, contact information, etc.). During this process, you will be asked to provide the Validation Token from the above step, so make sure you have that handy.

After you’ve installed basic information, the process is out of your hands. In 2-14 business days, Google will review your application. You can check your
Google account page at any time during the approval process after submitting your information to check the status of your Google for Nonprofits account request.

Step 4: How to Easily Apply for Google Ads Nonprofit Grants

Congratulations! Once Google has approved your request for a Google for Nonprofits account, you’re one step closer to $10,000 in free, monthly Google Ads spend.

You now have a Google for Nonprofits account, but you still need to apply for Nonprofit Grants.

Confused?

Don’t be. It’s easy. There are 4, simple steps between you and the monthly $10,000 Google Ads grant, and we’re going to walk you through each one.

  1. Create a Google Ads account. You can get that done easily here, using the same Google account you created/used earlier.
  2. Fill out the Ad Grants Pre-Qualification form. Make sure you have created your Google Ads account before tackle the Pre-Qualification form, because the form asks for several details you’ll find in your Google Ads account, including your Customer ID.
  3. Fill out the Ad Grants Training & Qualification Quiz. you’ll be answering similar questions to the Pre-Qualification form.
  4. In this step, you’ll be submitting your materials for review and approval. Log in to your Google for Nonprofits account, and under “Google Ad Grants” select “Activate”. Under “Pre-Qualification” in Part 1, enter your Customer ID – found in the top-right corner of your Google Ads account.

Within 5 days, Google will respond by email to your Nonprofit Google Ads Grant request. Once you’re approved, it’ll be time to populate your Google Ads account with location targeting, ad content and all other elements necessary for a successful Google Ads account.

How to Create & Run a Google Ads Account for Nonprofits

Once you have full access to your Google Ads account, outfitted with your active Google Ad Nonprofit Grant, there are a few benchmarks you’ll need to satisfy:

  1. Your Nonprofit Google Ad Grant can only be spent across the Google Search Network. This means that your grant will not cover any ads run across the Google Display Network. If you’re looking to run YouTube Ads or Display Ads, you’ll need to subsidize the cost personally. 
  2. You’ll have a daily spend limit of $329. This shouldn’t come as a surprise at all, given that $329 spent per day equates to roughly $10,000 per month. 
  3. Your account cannot bid more than $2 per click. This ceiling is established to keep nonprofit organizations focused on attaining traffic from long-tail keyword sources (more on that to come, under “Keyword Selection”). There is an exception to this rule: if your account installs accurate conversion tracking – typically first by creating conversions through Google Analytics linked to your website CMS, then by integrating conversions into Google Ads – and you employ Google’s Smart Bidding strategy, you can eclipse that $2 per click ceiling. 
  4. Each ad group needs at least two sitelink extensions. More on this to come, under “Account Structuring”. 
  5. Each ad group needs at least two active ads. More on this to come, under “Account Structuring.” 
  6. Each campaign needs at least two active ad groups. More on this to come, under “Account Structuring.” 
  7. Keywords must maintain a Quality Score at, or above, 3. More on this to come, under “Keyword Selection”.
  8. You need to complete and submit Google’s annual Google Ad Grant survey. Once this survey has been issued, you’ll be required to fill it out and submit feedback to Google.

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If you’re worried about meeting some of the above benchmarks, don’t be. It’s natural to have questions.

What’s a Quality Score?

What’s a Sitelink Extension?

How do I install Conversion Tracking?

That’s why we’re here. We partner with nonprofit organizations to help them through the specifics of Google Ads. We do our part so that you can continue to do yours. Reach out today to put these worries to bed.

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Google Ads for Nonprofits: The Basics

If you’re looking for a complete breakdown of all things Google Ads, you need to head over to our comprehensive resource on the subject: The Exhaustive Guide to All Things PPC. There, we dive into everything you’ll ever need to know to get your Google Ads account off and running – bidding strategies, geo-targeting, conversion tracking, keyword planners, A/B testing, etc. Below, we’re going to be covering more rudimentary items, boxes you need to check before you take your campaign live.

Account Structuring

Building a Nonprofit Google Ads account with an activated Ad Grant is similar to constructing a house: you would never begin without a detailed blueprint. The same is true here: you’ll want to thoroughly map out your account structure before putting even the first brick of the account itself into place.

In general, this process goes most smoothly if you work from the largest element to the smallest element. We’ve broken it down into 4 distinct steps.

1. Account

This one should be easy enough. You’ll want something sufficiently overarching. We’d suggest simply naming your account after your nonprofit.

2. Campaigns

We’re now segmenting the account into individual campaigns. Especially if you’re new to the concept of Google Ads, you’ll want to segment your Google Ads campaigns according to their most distinguishing feature. In other words, ask yourself this question: “What feature(s) of my products/services distinguish one group from another? We break down common ways to separate campaigns below.

  1. Separate campaigns by service.

    This is the most common method for separating out campaigns, and is likely going to serve as your first option. If this option works for you, don’t bother with the options below: this should be your go-to. If your nonprofit organization offers enough products/services that this structure can support itself, it’s useful to separate campaigns by service.

    For example, if you’re running a nonprofit that provides medical supplies to underprivileged children in New York City, you’ll want to separate campaigns based on service. After all, you’d want people searching for “child flu vaccine bronx” to see ads for your flu vaccine, not for prenatal checkups in the same area.

  2.  Separate campaigns by location.

    Another way to segment campaigns is according to location. This works especially well if you provide similar services in different areas, or if the main distinguishing feature between keywords is the location.

    For example, if you’re running a nonprofit that provides food for the homeless, you’d likely segment campaigns according to location. Even though your ad content would be similar from one location to the next, the difference in keywords would be enough to create an entirely new campaign, since the majority of people looking for your services would include. After all, you’d want people searching for “homeless food pantry dallas” to see ads for your Dallas location, not your Houston location.

  3. Separate campaigns by event.

    This type of campaign segmentation is useful if you’re running an event in a specific location, with a definitive beginning and end time, and you want to target specific individuals, with specific interests or characteristics, in specific locations.

    For example, if you’re running a nonprofit organization in Denver that teaches unemployed seniors basic computer skills, and you’re hosting week-long events in suburban libraries, this is the type of campaign segmentation you’ll want to use. After all, if someone types in “computer tutoring,” you’ll want them to see your ad for the sponsored computer education event nearest to them, both in location and time.

3. Ad Groups

Once your campaigns are set, we’ll take things even more specific – it’s time to create ad groups. These ad groups are direct subsets of your campaigns, meant to categorize the ads under them as an extra level of division.

For example, if you’re running a nonprofit that provides food for the homeless, you’d likely segment campaigns according to location. Let’s say that you created 3 campaigns: one titled “Feeding the Homeless – Cleveland”, another titled “Feeding the Homeless – Columbus”, and a third titled “Feeding the Homeless – Akron”. Under each campaign, you’ll likely have identical ad groups, further segmenting the ad content under each campaign.

Ad groups might therefore be segmented according to type of food. Ad groups under “Feeding the Homeless – Cleveland” might be titled “Cleveland – Beans”, “Cleveland – Rice”, “Cleveland – Cereal” and “Cleveland – Water”. You might replicate that strategy under the campaign “Feed the Homeless – Columbus”, but there might also be variation there. If Columbus offers different food options than Cleveland, this is your opportunity to personalize ad content from one location another.

4. Ads

Finally, we’ve drilled down to the most specific, and most important, facet of an account’s structure: the ad content!

Under the account name, under the campaigns, under the ad groups, the ads are where you can actually personalize what your consumers see when they type in your selected keywords. There’s a lot to unpack here, most of which we’ll dive into when we reach the “Ad Content” section below. For now, all you need to know is that you can’t get more specific when it comes to individual ads. Whether you choose to replicate ad content across multiple ad groups, or even across multiple campaigns, know that ads form the very foundation of any solid Google Ads strategy.

Keyword Selection

Before you begin writing your ad content, it’s always a good idea to nail down exactly what your consumers will be searching for. You don’t need a digital marketing agency to identify the best keywords for your account (although that certainly helps); we’ve provided a few tools below that will help you easily identify the best keywords for your campaigns.

1.
Answer the Public

Welcome to more keywords than you ever wanted.
Answer the Public actually crawls (scans) Google’s API (integration of Google’s search information), and provides you with a rather comprehensive list of each and every keyword worth installing into your campaign. Simply type in a focus keyword, and wait for Answer the Public to work its magic.

computer screen example of using Answer the Public

Be careful with this tool; the issue here isn’t that Answer the Public provides too few keywords, but just the opposite – it often provides too many. This is an amazing tool when it comes to identifying a comprehensive list of possible keywords from which to choose. This is not a great tool if you’re at the point where you only want to narrow down your possible list of keywords into the best ones. We’d recommend perhaps starting with Answer the Public when you begin your keyword search, but with the full knowledge that exhaustive filtration is likely necessary.

2.
Google Ads Keyword Planner

The benefit of
Google Ads Keyword Planner lies in the fact that it can pull information directly from Google’s existing search information, including ads already running, since it’s already integrated as a Google tool. Google Ads Keyword Planner is great for idea generation when you’re looking to expand your keyword list. Better yet, it can provide more information than Answer the Public – Google Ads Keyword Planner offers ad-relevant metrics you’ll want to examine before turning your ads live. For example, this keyword tool helps identify the average cost-per-click for your keywords, together with relevant search volumes, and how much competition you’re likely to face from existing ads using identical keywords.

Google Ads Keyword Planner is a completely free tool, with a catch: you need an operational Google Ads account to use it. This means you won’t be able to get a jumpstart on your keyword research if you want to use this tool; you’ll have to wait until your Google Ads account is fully set up before Google Ads allows you access.

Google Ads Keyword Planner

When it comes to keyword selection, here’s a general rule of thumb: collect before you discard. In other words, collect every perceivable keyword that’s relevant to your focus; after you’re convinced that there couldn’t possibly exist another keyword you don’t already have written down, you can begin eliminating irrelevant and less-relevant keywords, until you’re left with a keyword list for which you want consumers to see your ad.

Ad Content

And just like that, we finally arrive at the final, and most important, part of this entire blog and of your entire Google Ads planning process: your ad content. Without dynamite ad content, ad content consumers will actually read, ad content consumers will actually click on, the entire above strategy is done for nothing.

Suffice to say, you need electric ad content, tastefully incorporating action statements and keywords for relevance. We’ve outlined exactly how to do that, with a few pivotal benchmarks worth checking before you publish your ads:

  1. Reflect the user’s end goal. This suggestion is as simple as it is powerful. Put yourself directly into the consumer’s shoes, ask yourself this question: “What is my goal?” Often, the end goal is different from the product or service you’re providing.


    For example, you might be running a nonprofit that provides free textbooks for underprivileged children in Boise. However, for parents searching for your ads, the end goal isn’t finding a textbook for their child; the end goal is their child’s safe education. It’s always a great idea to tailor your ad content closely to the user’s end goal.

  2. Keep ad content as recent as possible. Accommodating this goal might be even easier for nonprofits than it is for more eCommerce or for-profit businesses. Long story short, people love to know that they’re not the first individuals to receive your products or services, and be positively impacted.

    For example, if you’re a nonprofit organization that provides shoes or senior citizens, the individuals finding your ads will love to know you have shoes. However, you can make your ads even more powerful by letting them know the good you’ve already been up to. While one of your headlines should say something like “Seniors Get Shoes Free”, consumers would also love to see a headline that says something like “3,256 Shoes Donated In January”.

  3. Localize, localize, localize. The more specific you can get with the focus of your ad content, the better. That’s really all that needs to be said about this one – be specific. For example, if you’re running a nonprofit organization that provides free after-school tutoring to inner city students, it’s great if you run a headline like “Free After-School Tutoring”. However, specifying location says so much more about who you are: “Reno After-Class Homework Help”.

  4. Never stop testing ad content. This step should define your approach to content in general. Whenever a consumer clicks (or doesn’t click) on your ad, they’re telling you something about them. When you test at least 2 ads at the same time, you’re able to better gather that information. You can determine which ads work better and which headlines attract more consumers. Ultimately, you’re working toward a point where you’re gaining maximum exposure online and where your clickthrough rates are all comfortably above the 5% minimum.

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We understand if you’re more than a little overwhelmed by all of the above information. After all, you’ll have to follow four painstaking steps just to get your Google Ads nonprofit Grant activated, and that’s before you begin to set up your Google Ads account at all! That’s why we’re prepared to do the heavy lifting for you.

Whether it’s gaining Google Nonprofit status, applying for the Nonprofit Google Ads Grant, choosing your keywords, structuring your Google Ads account or continually accommodating the benchmarks to keep your account active, take the advice of an agency who has been through it all before: let us do what we’re best at, so that you can do what you’re best at. Reach out today, and let us walk you through a process that has worked for countless other nonprofit organizations to date.

You could literally be advertising on Google tomorrow. We want to be the distance between you and $10,000 in free, top-of-page Google advertising each month. And it starts with a call. Reach out today to schedule a call, and put us to work for your nonprofit.

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