Applying for Google Ad Grants can be a frustrating process. If you are reading this, you’ve most likely been ferociously searching the web (ironically, Google) for answers on how to activate your account and have had no luck. It almost feels like an impossible feat; there is so much outdated and contradicting information online. That’s why I decided to write this post. I wish there had been a simple outline available to me to help me navigate my way through the Google Ad Grant application process and simple advice on how to maintain our activation status. So here it is.
Want to take this guide with you? Download our free guide to Google Ads for nonprofits ebook.
Step 1: In order to receive a Google Ad Grant, a nonprofit must pass the eligibility requirements. A nonprofit can receive up to $10,000 a month for Google Ads, so it’s worth looking into.
- Your organization must be registered as a charitable organization.
- Your organization cannot be:
- A government entity
- A healthcare organization or a hospital
- A school, academic organization or university
Step 2: Enroll in Google for Nonprofits and apply for Google Ad Grants. Go to Google for NonProfits and click Get Started. To apply, you need to be validated through Tech Soup. Have your organization’s legal name, EIN, address, mission, and annual operating budget on hand.
Once you have registered with Tech Soup, you will receive a validation token. They say this can take up to 30 days, but in our experience it’s usually just a few days.
Once you have your token, you can apply for Google for Nonprofits, which you must do before applying for Google Ad Grants.
Step 3: Log in to your Google Ads account and choose the Google Ad program that’s right for you. When you go to set up your Google Ads account, make sure you use the same email address you applied for Google for Nonprofits with. Then, make sure you skip billing and never enter any credit card information, even though it asks for it (this is critical for setting your organization up as a Google Ads Grant account).
You will be asked to choose between Google Ads (formally Google Adwords) and AdWords Express. If you’d like full control over your ad campaigns, or you have a digital advertising specialist on staff, choose Google Ads. Or, for simple, low-maintenance campaign management, choose AdWords Express. Keep in mind that you will have less control over your campaigns with AdWords Express and may miss out on some impactful capabilities. Get a full comparison here.
Step 4: Set up a campaign following specific guidelines. Now that you have created an account with your choice of Google Ads or AdWords Express, you will need to set up a campaign that follows these guidelines.
Note: Once this is complete, you will submit your account for review. If you miss one step or complete it incorrectly, Google will not approve you. If this happens, you will receive a generic email with the guidelines below, but it will not be specific to your account. You can save yourself a big headache by double checking each guideline carefully.
- Create a campaign.
- Create 2 ad groups per campaign.
- Create 2 text ads with keywords. These keywords must be mission-based.
- Set up geo-targeting (You can geo-target the U.S. or a region that is relevant to your business market)
- Create 2 sitelink extensions
- Set up conversion tracking (not applicable for AdWords Express)
Step 5: Submit your account for approval. This should only take a few business days.
Step 6: Fill out the required survey. Once approved, you will receive an email from Google Ads Support requesting that you fill out the Annual Ad Grants Survey. You will have 60 days from the day you receive the email to complete it. Note that this email went to my spam folder, so make sure to check your spam and get this survey completed before the deadline.
Step 7: Maintain your AdWords Campaign(s). Google wants you to spend their money effectively, so they require that you maintain your account to a certain standard.
- Your must maintain an average of 5% CTR each month at the Account Level. If this requirement is not met after 2 consecutive months, your account will be deactivated.
- Your keywords’ quality scores must be 3 and above. Google has a great feature that allows you to create an automated rule so that low-performing keywords automatically get paused, that way they don’t impact your performance.
- Your bids must be $2 or less for impression or click based campaigns. That means you can only pay $2 max per click. After your campaigns have been running successfully for some time, the Google system will have learned more about how your ads perform and the users who click on them. Google will then allow you to use a Target CPA strategy. Because this is a conversion-based strategy, Google automatically sets the bid, which may be much higher than $2 and will result in more quality interactions. The $2 max bid rule will not apply to you then.
I hope this outline can help you when you are applying to Google Ad Grants for your nonprofit. If you see that I left something out, please let me know. I welcome questions and comments!