5 Tips for Maximizing Your Nonprofit’s Google Ad Grant

August 10, 2020


Brand, Communications


Make the most of your Google Ad Grant.

Google offers $10,000 in in-kind Google Ads advertising credit every month to qualified nonprofits. It’s one of the easiest grants to get, and it funds one of the most effective digital marketing channels for driving volunteers and donors to your nonprofit organization and join your mission.

Google Grant funds Google Search Ads, which are sponsored search results on Google served to people who are looking for services or information on your website or industry, ensuring your message is visible to highly qualified potential traffic.

To leverage your Google Ad Grant and maximize the return on your advertising credit, follow our tips below.

Conduct keyword research

Keyword quality is crucial to any search engine marketing campaign. If people aren’t searching for your targeted keywords, your ads won’t show. Google Ad’s built-in Keyword Planner tool helps to identify and organize lists of keywords that align with your organization’s advertising goals. Google Trends is another tool that can helps gauge industry trends on keywords and topics.

Understand Google Ad Grant compliance policies

In 2019, Google raised standards for Google Grant upkeep and account compliance. The current policy requires Ad Grant accounts to maintain:

  • Minimum 5% click-through rate (CTR) account-wide. Accounts will be suspended after 2 consecutive months with a below-standard CTR.
  • Minimum keyword quality score of 2.
  • Minimum 2 ad groups per campaign.
  • Minimum 2 ads per ad group.
  • At least 2 sitelink ad extensions.


In addition to account-level requirements, Google also introduced updated keyword restrictions and bidding restrictions. To help advertisers with policy compliance, Google introduced its Policy Manager that provides an at-a-glance view of any disapprovals and violations, allowing users to navigate the appeal process in a few clicks.

Avoid Smart Campaigns (formerly known as Google AdWords Express)

Many nonprofits utilize Smart Campaigns, formerly known as Google AdWords Express, which is a stripped back version of Google Ads that is significantly easier to use. Created for Google Ads beginners, Smart Campaigns offers a highly simplified campaign management experience while sacrificing access to many highly effective features that make Google Ads so powerful. Smart Campaigns also hides access to valuable campaign reporting data to help inform your ad strategy.

Invest the time to become familiar with the full version of Google Ads through Google’s learning center, and take advantage of the full suite of ad management and reporting features.


Take advantage of Google’s automated optimization tools

Advertising platforms like Google are applying the latest machine learning technology to improve strategic bidding, ad relevance and ad conversions. Google Ads offers real-time recommendations based on machine learning to improve your ads’ optimization score, and the Performance Planner makes it easy to predict potential returns on hypothetical ad investment. Smart bidding self-optimizes based on data from all campaigns in your account, so new campaigns can start with a bidding strategy informed by previous performance data.

Leverage external support when needed

Digital ad management requires a certain amount of technical knowledge, experience and time to get up to speed. Google Ad Grants adds an additional layer of heightened policy compliance knowledge to Google Ads management, making it a formidable task to optimize. When strategizing how to best utilize your Google Grant, think about what resources your organization can devote to these ongoing efforts, what gaps there may be in your staff’s skill set, and whether this is something that would make sense for external support.

If you have any questions about optimizing your Google Ad Grant, contact us here. We’re happy to help you strategize making the most out of your Ad Grant.


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