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Google Grants: What Are They and Could Your Nonprofit Benefit?

Most nonprofits are familiar with the process of applying for grants. Whether they rely on grants or are grantmakers themselves, grants are a vital source of funding for the entire nonprofit sector. 


Since so many nonprofits often compete for limited funding, grant eligibility and compliance requirements are often complicated. Many grants require cost-sharing, in-kind contributions, or other committed resources. While these measures often ensure that grant money is well spent, it can create a tremendous administrative hurdle for nonprofits, especially those with limited time, money, or labor. This leads many to wonder what grants may be available that don’t require a tremendous commitment of valuable resources.


The Google Ad Grant presents a cost-effective opportunity for nonprofits of any size, mission, or scope. When acquired, the Grant provides your organization up to $10,000 a month to use on Google Ads. Considering Google Ads are the sponsored links that appear on the most popular search engine in the world, this presents an enormous opportunity to drive traffic to your organization’s website.


As Nonprofit Megaphone, we help over 400 clients acquire, manage, and utilize the Google Ad Grant. We’re here to share some of our expertise and cover everything you need to know about the Google Ad Grant and how it can benefit your organization!

All About the Google Grant 

Before discussing the myriad ways the Google Ad Grant can benefit your organization, it’s important to go over how the grant is acquired, maintained, and utilized. While the Grant presents an affordable opportunity that can be used flexibly, eligible nonprofits need to be ready to meet some minimal compliance standards. This section will give you all the information necessary to make that decision.

Basics

As we mentioned earlier, the Google Ad Grant gives eligible organizations up to $10,000 a month to spend on Google Ads. However, the Google Ad Grant isn’t like a traditional grant. Here’s what sets it apart: 


  • The $10,000 monthly allotment isn’t liquid cash. Instead, it’s an in-kind contribution from Google that is allocated automatically into your Google Ads account. Not only will this save your accountant some trouble, but it takes some of the financial strain off of your organization. Because the money is allocated based on competition, many organizations use their grant successfully without spending all $10,000. 


  • There is no expiration date on your Grant. As long as you remain compliant with the minimal standards, you’ll have it forever.


  • The funds can only be used toward Google Ads. As such, you’ll have quite a bit of flexibility to design, tweak, and optimize your Google Ads toward any goal of your choosing. This is important because not only does this help you remain compliant, but it also helps you compete with similarly situated nonprofits in digital space.

Eligibility 

It’s easy to discern whether your organization is eligible for the Google Grant. You are eligible if both of the following conditions are met:


  1. Your organization is a registered 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization.
  2. Your organization is not a hospital, school, or government agency.


That’s all there is to it! As long as these conditions are met and continue to be met during your use of the Grant, you’re in good shape. If you have questions on whether these conditions apply to you, consider consulting a Google Ad Grant expert.

Application Process 

Once you’re sure that you are eligible, you’re ready to apply


First, you’ll need to create a Google for Nonprofits account. This is where Google will collect your administrative information and confirm your eligibility. In order to confirm, Google will send you to an organization called Techsoup. Techsoup provides many services for nonprofits, including confirming your nonprofit status. They will issue you a token, which can then be submitted to Google to verify your eligibility. 


Google will take some time to make sure everything is correct. This interim time is a great opportunity to make sure your website is ready to meet Google’s compliance requirements. This includes having your EIN visible on your website and having plenty of promotable content. After all, generating traffic to your website is great, but this benefit is maximized only if your website is full of excellent content that visitors want.


If everything was submitted correctly, Google will give you access to your Google Ads account. Now, all you need to do is get started creating your ads. Best practices for this are covered in the next section.

Maintenance 

Maintenance describes the process of going through your Google Ads account and making sure it’s performing up to your expectations. For organizations with limited resources, this may be as simple as making sure your account is above the compliance standards. For others, this involves meticulous tweaks and analysis in order to optimize your account and maximize its success. Maintenance is the foundation of Google Grant Management.


If nothing else, it’s important to be mindful of Google’s compliance standards when doing account maintenance. Google has quite a few standards, most of which are easy to maintain. However, standards such as the 5% Click-Through Rate and removal of low-quality keywords require the most attention and can easily drag your account into noncompliance. Good maintenance also involves using Google Ads to promote your great web content. Having high-quality content is one of the best ways to maximize the impact of your Google Ad Grant.

Benefits of the Google Grant 

The upsides of the Google Ad Grant are tremendous. No matter your organization’s size, scope, or mission, the Grant can be used to amplify your current efforts and make any new programs or campaigns more successful. The Grant can be used to drive web traffic to various ends. Your organization has complete control over how you use the Grant to achieve your goals, but here are some of the most common ways organizations benefit from it.

Increased Awareness 

At a minimum, the Google Ad Grant is a fantastic way to raise awareness for your organization. Whether it be for your events, programs, or services, more people will be made aware of your organization by being presented with your ads. Increased awareness can be measured by metrics such as:


  • Impressions
  • Clicks 
  • Site visitors 

With a strategic use of keywords and well-written ad copy, your ads will appear in search results and generate traffic for your organization or event.

More Engagement 

While more traffic and awareness is nice, it doesn’t always translate into meaningful engagement with your content and programs. By optimizing your Google Ads to this end, you can entice visitors to engage with your website. High-value actions that are taken by visitors are called conversions. 


Conversions are one of the most important metrics in Google Ads because they signify high-quality traffic. Common conversions include newsletter subscriptions, volunteer signups, video plays, or donations. Not only can the Google Ad Grant increase these conversions, but with free tools like Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager, you’ll have plenty of data you can use to analyze trends, track engagement, and make appropriate changes. With this data in hand, you can isolate the most important conversions and focus your efforts on increasing conversion rates.

Better Fundraising 

While the Google Ad Grant doesn’t provide direct funding to your organization, many nonprofits have success using the increased ad traffic to drive fundraising. This strategy often requires specific techniques, but the Google Ad Grant can certainly help with fundraising. If you’re going to use the Google Ad Grant to drive donations, be sure to be patient. Effective use will build your audience and increase overall engagement, laying the foundation for long-term success.

Grants are a vital part of the nonprofit sector, and the Google Ad Grant is no exception. While it may operate differently than most traditional grants, this aspect makes it available to the majority of nonprofits and makes it an affordable option. The costs of acquiring it and maintaining it are minimal and can be done with a member of your team committing only a few hours each week. Further, organizations with skilled Grant managers can optimize the Grant and maximize its effectiveness. No matter your organization’s mission or size, the Google Ad Grant is an opportunity worth investing in.


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Grant Hensel

Grant Hensel is the CEO of Nonprofit Megaphone, an agency focused 100% on Google Grant Management for nonprofits. NPM is honored to manage the Google Grant for 370+ leading nonprofits worldwide and to be an inaugural member of the Google Ad Grant Certified Professionals community.