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Google Ad Grants (aka Free Money for Charities)

Google Ad Grants is a way for charities to get free money from Google. I like the idea of charities being able to get money from one of the world's biggest companies. So whenever I meet someone from a charity, I always make a point of asking them if they've claimed their Google Grant.

Nine times out of ten they don't even know what a Google Grant is. So I've put together this Q&A that explains everything you need to know. 

If you're reading this and you don't work for a charity, please share the link with someone who does!


What is a Google Grant and what does it give me? 

The Google Ad Grants programme is a version of Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) designed for charities and other not-for-profit (NFP) organisations.

This exclusive Google initiative provides non-profit organisations with a grant of up to $10,000 (£8,000) a month to put towards Google Ads advertising.

With the help of a Google Grant you can promote your website, advertise your message, and grow your community of supporters and volunteers with keyword targeting on the Google search engine.  

google ad grants - Google Ad Grants (aka Free Money for Charities)
What sort of things can I run ads for using Google Ad Grants?

You can use your $10,000 a month to target all sorts of searches on Google. For example:

  • you could run a campaign to appear in the search results when someone searches for something like “donate to charity”
  • you could bid on terms related to the type of charity you are, such as “mental health charities”
  • if you are looking for people to raise money for your charity by using one of your places in a major event, you might decide to bid on something like “charity places for London marathon”
Ok, I am a not-for-profit organisation. What now?

If you are a non-profit organisation that would like to apply for the Google Grants charity funding, you will need to make sure you satisfy the eligibility criteria. These vary slightly from country to country but in the UK they are as follows:

  1. Your NFP organisation must be active, registered and hold valid charity status
  2. You cannot be an academic institution (school, college, university, etc)
  3. You must have a website which is active, functioning and provides substantial content about your charity
  4. Your charity must acknowledge and agree to the Google Grant terms and conditions.

What’s the catch, and are there any restrictions?

There’s no catch but there are a few restrictions for Google Ads Grants accounts which don’t apply to standard Google Ads accounts.  

Your account has to be billed in US dollars even if you’re in the UK and you can’t bid more than $2 per click. In addition your daily spend is capped at $329.

Until a couple of years ago you could pretty much set up your account on the Grants programme and then leave it to run itself. And that’s what many charities chose to do. After all, if they ended up spending more than they needed to by not optimising their campaigns, it didn’t matter because it wasn’t their money anyway! 

google ad grants - Google Ad Grants (aka Free Money for Charities)

To address this, Google introduced some new terms and conditions for the Google Grants scheme in December 2017. These state that:

  • You cannot bid on single-word keywords; so, make sure you pick relevant multi-word phrases to bid on
  • Each campaign in your account must have at least two ad groups
  • Each ad group must contain at least two ads
  • You must maintain a CTR (click-through rate) of at least 5%
This sounds like a lot to keep up with. What if I don’t meet these conditions?

Then, unfortunately, you could face losing the Google Grant for your charity or having your account suspended until you bring it back into line with the above requirements. 

To avoid this you will need to make sure your Google Ads campaigns are actively managed and are reg​​ularly optimised - just like you would with a normal Google Ads account that you were funding with your own money. 

But I don’t have the expertise or time to do my own Google Ads management.

That’s ok. There are people (like me!) who can help you, whether by managing Google Ads for you or by providing Google Ads training and coaching to help you run your own campaigns properly yourself. 

There are also free online resources on this website and elsewhere that will help you set up your own Google Ads campaigns and provide you with checklists to help you keep your account in good condition so you retain your eligibility for the Google Grant. 

Great! Where should I start?

The first step is to apply for the Google Ad Grants programme.

Once you’ve done that, why not book a free strategy call and I’ll be happy to give you some ideas on how to use that $10,000 of advertising spend which Google is going to give you each month.

About the Author David Miles

As a digital marketing consultant, author and trainer, I specialise in helping businesses in the financial services sector use the internet to get more enquiries and increase profits.

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