What is Google Ad Grant?

Google Ad Grants is a $10,000 (*approx £8,000) gift by Google to spend specifically on the  Google Ads platform. This is part of their Google For Nonprofits offering and the best bit about it, is it’s free!

The Google Ads platform allows nonprofits to place adverts at the top of Google search results when people are making searches relevant to their services. With over 40,000 nonprofits signed up to Google Ad Grants, its core purpose is to enable charities to appear when a new audience is searching for their cause.

Further benefits of signing up for Google Nonprofits account include access to:

  • Google Workspace for Nonprofits – Professional Emails
  • YouTube Nonprofit Program (currently only available in the US) – Video Advertising
  • Google Earth and Maps – Location Information

Getting Started

The first step is to sign up for a Google for Nonprofits Account.  For this I would suggest creating a generic Gmail account as the main login for this account as when members of staff leave it can become tricky to gain access after they have left!

Before getting started, certain types of organisations are not eligible:

  • School, academic institutions, or universities
  • Hospitals and healthcare organisations.
  • Governmental entities or organisations.

A TechSoup validation token is required to sign up which can be found via Charity Digital (formerly TT Exchange). In my experience most charities are signed up to Charity Digital, it’s just a case of tracking down the logins. Charity Digital  is a fantastic resource for information and technology and they are very helpful in helping locate token however if there is no account an application is required, it’s a simple process.

Once your Google For Nonprofits is approved you’ll be notified via email. One factor in non-approval may be an unsecured website, slow loading speeds or broken website links.

Google Ad Grants Set Up

Now the Google Nonprofits account is approved, it’s time to get started with Google Ad Grants. Activate this product within the account and go through the sign up process.

Once signed up, await the payment profile email as this activates the grant but DO NOT input any card information. The account must have the currency set to USD.

The first step is keyword research. It’s important to remember that the key to a successful campaign is to ensure there is an answer to whatever search is being made via Google search.

Using a Google sheet or excel document, write down as many keywords that you might think are relevant. Think about the industry, the charities’ core terms and aims, and the charity world as a whole.

Once all ideas have been exhausted, turn to Google’s Keyword Planner. This is free tool housed under tools and settings in the drop down from the top in the Google Ads account. Google will offer suggestions based on keywords which have low search volume or aren’t relevant. This will help whittle down your list to a usable group.

Next is planning the structure of campaigns. This structure is simple, mirror the website.

  • Campaigns should be categories of services or types of support.
  • Ad groups are bundles of keywords within that service type that relate to each other meaning the web page they link to is the same.
  • Ads represent the ad group on Google search results and take people through to a landing page

Campaign Set Up

When setting up a new campaign choose ‘Website traffic’ or ‘create without a goal’ as the campaign setting. For type, the grant only allows search campaigns as an option and then finally add the charity website with a campaign name.

Bidding & Budget

Where $10,000 is the maximum spend, set the daily budget to $329. Where you are unlikely to reach the full spend in the early stages you can set this budget for all campaigns.

For bidding choose ‘Maximise Clicks’. This is the best option for new accounts and can be changed at any time, there is no need for a max cost per click limit.

Campaign Settings

Despite being listed Search Network and Google Display Network are not eligible for the grant so keep these unticked.

Next choose the locations you wish to target. If there isn’t a global presence already the suggestion would usually be to start with the UK. If the cause is local then start with a radius around the service. If the cause is global then be sure to select the languages your ads should appear in.

Two new features in the campaign set up process are:

  1. Audience Segments – Here audiences of browsers can be added depending on their interests. If these match the services of the charity they can be added as
    1. Observation – show ads to everyone but breakdown the exposure to selected audience. 
    1. Targeting – only show adverts to selected audience groups.
  • Dynamic Search Ads A fully automated type of using the grant. By adding a URL and google will choose the keywords ads appear for. This is certainly the quickest way to do things.

If you have the time, our suggestion is the original method which provides more learnings leaving these blank.

Keywords & Ads.

If prior research hasn’t been carried out you can enter a website URL to get idea. If you have a prepared list copy and paste one keyword group into the Enter Keywords box. Our suggestion for match type is broad.

Next create an adword by placing the URL that relates most to the keyword group and then add a series of headlines that relate to the keywords.

You can add up to 15 of these but 10 variations would still be fine.


The keywords and adverts all send traffic to one URL but sitelink offer the opportunity to provide browsers with other options that have parallel relevance.


This process at either campaign or ad group level is now required to repeat until all the keyword groups have been created across campaigns in the account.

We’d always suggest a simple brand campaign, using core brand keywords containing the charity name  as they will achieve a high-quality score and a high click-through rate.


The next stage is to link Google Analytics or GA4 and import any goals or events. This gives visibility over how the performance of the Google grant and what impact it might be making. Goal or event examples might include membership sign-ups, ticket sales, email subscribers, brochure downloads, and of course donor lists.

This also enables the choice of the bidding strategy ‘maximise conversions’ at campaign setup. This means Google’s algorithm chooses where your ads appear at the auction but most importantly allows bidding over the $2 click limit, resulting in the ability to compete in more areas.

Account and keyword quality score which is how Google ranks the health of your account will impact the way in which Google chooses to show adverts. Therefore it’s important optimise keywords as you collect more clicks and data.

When campaigns are spending and driving clicks, Google search terms will enable the visibility of the actual searches people are making. An example of a dog adoption charity had the keyword ‘dog adoption’ but in the search terms they were appearing for ‘cat adoption’ which was driving clicks, this would impact the quality score with a high bounce rate (meaning people leave the website straight away). The steps are to add ‘cat’ as a negative keyword, instructing Google to not appear when someone is making any search that contains the word cat.

The last component to building an effective Google grant is the website. There must be relevant information that answers someone’s questions they’re making in Google search. The benchmark is 10 promotable pages of content, 10 pages that have specific information related to the cause. Google Ads will instruct what people are searching for based of the campaigns and keywords, it provides valuable insight and data which in turn directs content and suggests areas of the website where more content can be added. This will also have an impact on SEO

In summary, the Google grant is a fantastic free resource that if set up correctly can not only drive a totally new audience to a charity’s cause who are actively searching but also instruct content holes and conversion rate optimisation opportunities to improve website performance. Over 40,000 global charities are using the Google grant, it should be a part of any charities marketing mix.

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