As of the end of June 2020, more than eight million people have been infected with COVID-19, and with the extra strain of the pandemic, additional crises — such as mental health, social stigma, and domestic violence — are worsening as well. Nonprofits are trying to confront these challenges, but many are struggling in the wake of COVID-19.
According to Google, “more than half [of nonprofits] have experienced a decline in donations since the COVID-19 outbreak [… due to] typical fundraising activities [being] canceled due to social distancing.” Here’s how Google aims to help nonprofits during these challenging times with Ads grants.
What are Google Ads Grants for Nonprofits?
Since 2003, Google Ad Grants has provided up to $10,000 US dollars per month in free text Search ads. To support nonprofits, Google has pledged an additional $200 million in Ad Grants, for a total of $1 billion in 2020. The goal of the additional funding this year is to help support nonprofits that are addressing COVID-19 recovery and response and fighting racial injustice on a global scale.
Here’s a brief video I created earlier this year to spread the word about the Google Ads Grant for nonprofits program:
In general, Google Ad Grants are meant to help nonprofits “attract donors, raise awareness for your organization, and recruit volunteers with in-kind advertising on Google search.” Two things to keep in mind about taking advantage of Google grants:
- The Ads grants are only applicable to text-based ads, so you can’t include videos or images in your ads.
- Your ads will only appear on the Google SERP below the ads created by paying advertisers.
Who is Eligible for a Google Grant Account?
To be eligible for a Google for Nonprofits account and to be able to apply for a Google Ads grant, your organization must:
- Be registered as a charitable organization in one of the countries listed here. All organizations must be verified as a nonprofit by TechSoup of the local TechSoup partner near you.
- Meet any additional country requirements as some countries have additional eligibility requirements.
- Have a high-quality website that meets the Ad Grants website policy.
Here are the eligibility requirements for nonprofits organizations in the United States:
- Nonprofits organizations must be recognized by the IRS as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization formed for charitable, educational, religious, literary, scientific, or other tax-exempt purposes. Organizations that are automatically considered tax-exempt under group exemptions, such as churches, must still obtain their 501(c)(3) tax exemption status from the IRS to qualify for the Google Ads grant for nonprofits.
- Nonprofits organizations must be validated by TechSoup.
Organizations that aren’t considered eligible for a Google for Nonprofits account include:
- A government entity or organization.
- A hospital or health care organization.
- Charitable branches or foundations associated with healthcare organizations are considered eligible for Google for Nonprofits accounts.
- A school, academic institution, or university.
- Philanthropic branches of educational organizations are considered eligible for Google for Nonprofits accounts.
How to Apply for Google Grants in the U.S.
In an effort to make it easier for eligible nonprofits to receive Ads grants, Google shortened the application process from 14 steps to 5 steps:
- See if your organization is eligible. As I explained in the section above, you need to ensure your nonprofit is eligible for a Google Ads Grant.
- Apply for a Google for Nonprofits account. If your nonprofit organization meets the eligibility requirements, you need to apply for a Google for Nonprofits account. For nonprofits in the US, it generally takes between 2-14 business days for TechSoup to verify your organization and your affiliation with the nonprofit.
- Submit the Google Ads Grant eligibility form. Once your Google for Nonprofits account has been approved, you need to submit the Google Ad Grants eligibility form on the Ad Grants activation page of your Google for Nonprofits account. This process should take about 20 minutes.
- Confirm that you’ve completed your Google Ads Grant eligibility form. Once you’ve submitted your eligibility form, go back to your Google for Nonprofits account to confirm that you completed the eligibility form. Click Activate under Google Ad Grants and click the checkbox confirming that you’ve completed the eligibility form.
- Submit your activation request. Submit your activation for review by clicking Activate. The Ad Grants team will update you regarding the status of your request as soon as possible.
If you’re looking for more guidance around applying for an Ads grant for your nonprofits, you can register for the livestream training Google for Nonprofits is running on Monday, July 27, 2020, at 9 AM PT. Don’t worry, if you miss the livestream, you can catch the replay on the Google for Nonprofits YouTube channel two days after the event on July 29, 2020.
Google Ads Grant Compliance Guidelines
In order to keep receiving the Google Ads grant funding each month, be sure your organization’s ads are high-performing and in compliance with the following guidelines:
- Your ads must maintain a 5% CTR every month. The purpose of the Google Ads grant for nonprofits is to help these organizations raise awareness for their organization, attract donors, and recruit volunteers through the use of Google text ads. However, your organization’s ads need to perform well every month in order to keep receiving the grant funds. If you fail to meet the 5% CTR requirements for two consecutive months, Google can temporarily deactivate your account.
- You can’t use single-word keywords. In accordance with the Ad Grants’ Mission-based policy, you aren’t permitted to use single-word keywords in your ads. Your organization’s brand keywords, keywords for approved medical conditions, and some other exceptions are excluded from this policy.
- You can’t use overly generic keywords. Very generic keywords, such as “free videos”, “today’s news”, and “e-books” don’t correlate to the intent of the person searching for your nonprofit or the services you provide. Your should use high-intent keywords to ensure people searching for your nonprofit are finding your ads.
- All keywords must have a quality score of 3 or above. As I mentioned above, your ads should include high-intent keywords to make sure your ads are performing well. If your keywords have a quality score of 1 or 2, they should be paused or removed.
- Your campaigns must have valid conversion tracking when applicable. Since January 2018, Google requires that advertisers in the Ads Grant program use accurate conversion tracking, and if you have a high conversion rate, that your ads’ high performance is due to meaningful conversions and not just your total number of clicks.
- You must have at least 2 ads per ad group, and you must have at least 2 ad groups per campaign. Google recommends that create at least 2 ads per ad group that lead to relevant landing pages and 2 ad groups per campaign. Creating at least 2 ad groups per campaign with highly relevant, high-intent keywords that correspond with the associated ads and landing pages is one way to ensure your ads perform well.
- You must have at least 2 sitelink ad extensions. According to Google, “Sitelinks provide the person searching more opportunities to click directly from your ad to landing pages on your site.” When building out each of your ads, consider which specific pages from your website could provide additional value to people searching for your organization or services
- You must respond to the Google Ads grant program survey. Google for Nonprofits sends annual program surveys to the associated login email address for all Ad Grants accounts. All grantees need to complete and submit the survey to be considered for funding the next year.
Need Help Navigating Google Ads Grants?
At Pam Ann Marketing, we offer Google Ads grant management services. We help nonprofits obtain the grant, maximize the utilization of the grant funds, and maintain compliance with Google’s strict grant account performance requirements. Contact us today to start the process of getting your nonprofit succeeding with the Google Ads Grant program!