The Challenge of Using Ad Grants for Fundraising

Ad Grants is a Google program that gives a budget of $10,000 per month to each non-profit organization, you can use these funds to promote your organization for free on their search engine.

In this article, I am going to explain why many organizations fail in their attempts to raise funds through Google Ads (formerly Adwords) and several tactics to achieve better results:

The Challenge of Using Ad Grants for Fundraising

Many organizations try to use Google Ad Grants to raise funds (in fact, it is the #1 goal of most of them).

But it is not easy to achieve this goal, mainly for 2 reasons:

  1. There are few people who go to Google to donate to an organization (for example, users who search for “donation environmental nonprofit”). So there are few opportunities to generate direct donations easily.
  2. These few opportunities are not usually available for free ads (Ad Grants), because there are often organizations that pay to appear in these searches, and paid ads always appear before free ads (that's how Ad Grants works).

Therefore, if you only use the most obvious strategies (such as creating Grants ads for searches related to donations), you will probably get mediocre results.

But there are tactics that can work much better to raise funds. Below I briefly comment on 5 of them, but with a little creativity we can discover many more:

Idea 1: Promote Products or Services

If your organization sells products or services of any kind (for example: Merchandising, courses, etc.), a great way to raise funds is to promote these products with Google Ad Grants.

Another (complementary) option is to promote products or services of other organizations or companies. This is allowed in Ad Grants, as long as you clearly specify how it helps your social mission (for example, if they donate a % of the sales to your organization).

Many organizations sell physical products, but it can be even more interesting to sell digital products (ebooks, digital magazines, online courses, games, apps, etc.). They have several important advantages over physical products: You can sell worldwide easily, no storage or shipping costs, large sales margin...

Idea 2: Promote Events

If you organize paid events, you can promote them with Ad Grants and thus get more ticket sales (= more funds for your organization).

You can also promote free events that can help you raise funds or simply introduce your organization to more people (who may become donors later).

You can even promote fundraising events organized by your supporters and help them attract more people.

There are a lot of Google searches for local events and activities, so there are often plenty of opportunities to promote events with Ad Grants.

Idea 3: Use Unique Keywords

We have already seen at the beginning of the article why the obvious keywords (such as “donation environmental nonprofit”) usually won’t bring great results.

But if we are a bit creative, we can use many other keywords to connect with potential donors.

For example, people who are searching on Google for a template to create their will (to convince them to donate to your organization in their will).

Idea 4: Use Sitelink Ad Extensions

With Google Ads we can use different ad extensions. One of them are sitelink extensions, that allow us to promote pages not directly related to what the user was searching for.

Therefore, we can use these site extensions to promote different fundraising initiatives of your organization (donations, memberships, products, events, etc.) to users who were searching for other topics.

Idea 5: Optimize Landing Pages

A complementary option to the previous one is to change your landing pages to promote your fundraising initiatives.

For example, in an informative article about polar bears (that you promote in searches such as “polar bear facts”), you can include an eye-catching block that invites them to donate to your organization to help protect polar bears or buy a polar bear merchandising. 

You can also use informative landing pages to attract subscribers to your newsletter (and/or followers on social media). These new followers can become donors in the long term with the right email marketing strategy.

In summary, we can say that Google Ad Grants opens up many possibilities for fundraising (and for many other purposes). But you have to be creative and know all the possibilities offered by Google Ads to get the most out of it.


Written by Miguel Ángel García, Google Ad Grants expert and founder of Nonprofit.top.

You can request a free audit of your Ad Grants account to find out if you could improve your results.

Nonprofit Fundraising
Nonprofit Tips
Miguel Angel García del Valle

Written by Miguel Ángel García, Google Ad Grants expert and founder of Nonprofit.top.