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Maximize nonprofit success with Google Ad Grants

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Picture this: $10,000 worth of free advertising per month to get your message out there. Sound too good to be true?

Well, pinch yourself because it's not a dream.

Discover firsthand how these grants can transform nonprofits - boosting visibility, driving donations, and growing email lists. While the Google Ad Grants offer some amazing benefits, navigating through the complex world of Google Ads requires some savvy strategies.

Come along as we decode eligibility criteria and master ad strategies for peak click rates. By the end, you'll be armed with actionable advice to tackle typical hurdles and craft content that draws attention.

Table of Contents:

Google Ad Grants 101

Google Ad Grants is a program offered by Google that allows eligible nonprofits to create and manage text-based ads that appear on Google when people search for relevant keywords related to their organization's mission or services. Through this program, nonprofits have access to up to $10,000 per month of in-kind search advertising. Officially launched in 2003, the program is designed to help nonprofits raise awareness for their causes, attract volunteers, and promote their services.

Eligibility Criteria for Google Ad Grants

To be eligible for the Google Ad Grants program, your nonprofit must have a valid charitable status according to its country-specific guidelines (the IRS is our go-to here in the U.S.). Plus, you must agree with and adhere strictly to Google's policies, including their non-discrimination policy. Google also requires nonprofits to have a functioning website with high-quality content.

“It's one of the easiest grant applications out there. And you get $10,000 worth of clicks per month and you’re not paying until that person clicks on that ad.”
-Chris Barlow on Beyond the Donation episode 20

But there's a small catch for some nonprofits. Certain organizations like universities, schools, and hospitals don't qualify for Google Ad Grants.

Keep in mind that the details and requirements of the Google Ad Grants program may evolve over time, so it's a good idea to check Google's official resources or website for the most up-to-date information.

Making the most of the $10,000 monthly grant

So you’ve qualified for Google's Ad Grants program. Suddenly, you've got a whopping $10K each month to use. How do you plan to use those dollars effectively?

Maximizing clicks with effective ad strategies

The key to making the most of this grant is all about strategy. Rather than spreading your ad budget thinly across various keywords and hoping something sticks, research keywords and focus on what resonates most with your target audience.

“We all are familiar with the fact that when we go and do a search on Google, the top results are often an ad. They look fairly similar to the regular organic results on the page. Most of the time, those ads are companies and people who are paying to have their ad show up at the top of the results. And it's triggered by the keyword that you searched.”
-Chris Barlow on Beyond the Donation episode 20

Let’s say your nonprofit is a summer camp for kids with disabilities. It offers adaptive experiences and qualified staff to create a safe and inclusive environment for each child.

Targeting a keyword like “summer camp” likely won’t hit the right audience for your nonprofit and would be a waste of Google Ad Grant dollars. However, keywords like “adaptive summer camp” or “special needs camp” are more on the mark.

Using a tool like Google Search Console, you can see what keywords are already drawing an audience to your website. Additionally, take the time to brainstorm specific keywords that you’d like to target and think would resonate with your target audience. Use a tool like Uber Suggest to see the search volume for each keyword and the ranking difficulty.

Competing effectively with larger nonprofits

The David vs Goliath scenario isn’t just limited to biblical stories or Hollywood movies - smaller nonprofits often face similar situations when competing against larger organizations for visibility on search engines.

Focus on the aspects that make your organization stand out from its larger counterparts to create a level playing field. Use these qualities as keywords in your campaigns instead of generic terms that big charities also bid for. Remember, niche audiences can lead to more engaged donors.

Testing and fine-tuning

Don’t be afraid of testing different strategies until you find one that delivers results while staying within budget limits given by Google. The world of online marketing, search engine optimization, and advertising is always changing. So, it’s okay to try a strategy that ends up not working. Taking risks, experimenting, and trying something new are all part of the process.

Google Ad Grants: Lisa from The Simpsons saying, "I think we should do a test."

The important part is to collect real data, so you can see what is working and what isn’t. That can be changing the wording and then rerunning the ad, or it can be about testing different keywords to see what resonates.

While Google Ads Help Center is a great place to start if you want some practical tips on managing your ad spend effectively, there are companies like Beeline that focus on supporting nonprofits in their marketing efforts. Beeline offers nonprofits Google Ad management, so Google Ad expert doesn’t have to be another hat you wear.

Creating valuable content to attract donors

You've got the Google Ad Grants program on your side, but how can you make sure those ad clicks turn into real engagement? The answer is to create valuable content.

The type of content that attracts donors may vary depending on your nonprofit's mission and audience. However, some forms have proven consistently effective across different sectors.

Inspirational stories

Inspiring stories about people who benefited from your work resonate well with audiences. By sharing stories that show the positive change a donation can make, your nonprofit inspires potential donors to be part of that change. Potential donors have a clear idea of the impact their donations will make.

Even a single well-told story can engage more effectively than dozens of statistics. Decide on the medium you’d like to use - whether long-form writing, video, or photos with captions - to tell your story.


A visual infographic showcasing the challenges facing the community you serve or the difference made thanks to donor support can also be motivational to potential donors. While infographics shouldn’t be the primary way you tell your nonprofit’s story, they do add a visual element that can be easily shared on social media, in emails, or on your website.

Guides or booklets

Example Guide

NonProfit PRO suggests creating free booklets that tie into your nonprofit’s mission. These could be recipe books or guides that offer something tangible in return for a potential donor's attention.

Going back to the adaptive summer camp example, they could create an outdoor safety guide for parents of kids with disabilities or a camping cookbook for kids with sensory issues.

These two booklets would bring in interested parties who may not have been specifically looking for a summer camp, but who would see the value of an adaptive summer camp for kids with disabilities.

All the options above offer value beyond simple donation requests while still tying back strongly to why supporting your nonprofit matters so much. Creating engaging content has been found essential in attracting and retaining potential donors through programs like Google Ad Grants.

So, start thinking about what unique value you can offer to your audience and create content around that. It might be the game-changer you need.

Using Google Ad Grants to grow your audience

While it’s great to have new people discover your nonprofit through Google Ad Grants, it’s important that clicks also lead to an engaged audience. To engage your audience, you first need to decide what actions you hope visitors to your site take.

What are some actions you might want your audience to take? These could include subscribing to an email list, signing up for an event, or giving a donation.

Because your email list provides you a way to connect with potential donors, growing your email signups is one of the most powerful ways to use Google Ad Grants. Let’s look at how to grow your email list and how it can help you increase donations.

Growing your email list with Google Ads

If your goal is to increase signups, make sure that all your Google Ads lead users toward an opportunity to sign up for more information or updates from your nonprofit. Whether it’s a pop-up form on the landing page or a simple 'subscribe' button at the end of each blog post - every click counts.

Remember, these are potential donors who've shown interest in what you do. Give a clear call to action so they know how to stay informed about the work you’re doing. A/B testing done by NextAfter showed that email signup forms that include a picture of a person with a welcome message from them increase signups.

Fostering relationships through email marketing

Your email list isn't just names and addresses; it's relationships waiting to happen. If you have potential donors sign up for your email list, make sure to regularly send out engaging content related directly back to causes they care about. This way, potential donors stay connected with how their contribution could help further those causes.

Craft your donor outreach emails with a personal touch, addressing your subscribers by their names and tailoring content to their specific interests whenever possible. Showcasing the real impact of past donations through success stories, testimonials, or visual media can also strengthen the emotional connection between your organization and its supporters.

Remember, an effective email marketing strategy is not just about broadcasting information; it's about building and sustaining meaningful connections. By continually engaging your audience, providing valuable content, and expressing genuine appreciation, you transform your email list from a mere compilation of contacts into a vibrant community united by a shared passion for positive change.

Increase donations through compelling Calls-to-Action (CTAs)

Now that you have a lot of subscribers, how do you turn them into donors? With effective CTAs in emails - think heartwarming stories combined with clear 'donate now' buttons.

To make sure you’re getting value from each click, always monitor and adjust your campaigns regularly. A well-optimized campaign can attract new visitors who may become volunteers or donors down the line.

Conversion tracking in Google Ads

To start, make sure that Google Ad conversion tracking has been set up on your website.

This might sound technical, but think about it as setting the stage before a big performance. You wouldn’t put on a play without making sure the lighting and sound systems are working first, right?

The same principle applies here: getting this system ready lets you see exactly how well your ads perform by showing you which ones lead users to take desired actions – whether signing up for newsletters or donating.

  • First: create a new 'Conversion action' in Google Ads.
  • Second: install the provided code snippet (also known as tag) onto relevant pages of your site - usually "Thank You" or confirmation pages following an action such as donation completion or newsletter sign-up.
  • Third: Create corresponding 'Conversion goals' within Google Analytics to track user behavior data from these conversions more deeply.

Bear in mind though; not all conversions carry equal weight. Just like different items at an auction may have varying bids, certain user actions will be more valuable than others depending on your organization’s objectives. Prioritize accordingly while configuring settings.


In conclusion, this journey into the realm of Google Ad Grants has equipped your nonprofit with the knowledge to determine eligibility and harness the potential of the generous $10,000 monthly grant. As you navigate the landscape of digital advertising, remember the importance of defining keywords, creating valuable content, and tracking the results.

Here's to a future of enhanced visibility, increased engagement, and sustained growth for your nonprofit in the online sphere.

To hear more about Google Ad Grants listen to Matt and Chris on Beyond the Donation episode 20

FAQs in Relation to Google Ad Grants

How do you qualify for Google Ad Grants?

To snag a Google Ad Grant, your nonprofit needs to have 501(c)(3) status. But schools, universities, and hospitals usually don't qualify.

Is the Google ad grant $10,000?

Absolutely. The Google Ad Grants program gives eligible nonprofits up to $10k in free search ads each month.

Are Google Ad Grants worth it?

You bet they are. With up to $10k per month of free advertising, you can expand your reach and amplify your message without spending a dime.

Is Google Ad Grants free?

Yes! If your nonprofit is eligible, you get access to free search ads every single month courtesy of the good folks at Google.

Elisha Ford
Content Writer
Written by
Elisha Ford
Content Writer

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