Free Online Advertising: Getting Started With Google Ad Grants

If your organization is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, Google AdWords is a great way to get in front of your target audience without breaking the bank. We at Forum One appreciate smart, thrifty advertising and want to help your nonprofit get the most out of Google AdWords to optimize your ad campaigns.

Google AdWords vs Google Ad Grants

You’ve likely heard of Google AdWords, the advertising service provided by Google for companies interested in placing ads on Google’s advertising network.  AdWords allow businesses to establish a budget for advertising based on when people click on their ads, which is focused on bidding on specific keywords. What you might be less familiar with is Google Ad Grants, Google’s program for nonprofits to benefit from $10,000/month in free advertising on Google search results and up to $40,000/month if using AdWords effectively.

To be eligible for a Google Ad Grant, your organization must be based in one of fifty approved countries as well as a nonprofit. Most 501(c)3 organizations are eligible, and all interested organizations must also have a substantial website. For-profit organizations, government entities, hospitals and medical groups, schools, universities, and childcare centers are not eligible to apply for Google Ad Grants. 

What an Ad Grant Gets You

So what can you buy with grant dollars? Google Ad Grants give your organization the buying power to bid on certain keywords. For a search word that is used more frequently, the corresponding bid price is higher. Depending on what you are advertising for your nonprofit, you can strategically bid on specific keywords to gear your ads toward your audience. Your advertisement’s display order will depend on the price of the bid, the relevance of the keyword(s), and the click-through rate (CTR).

How to Get Started

  1. Join Google for Nonprofits. Registration requires items such as your employer ID (EIN), certifying your organization’s nonprofit status, agreeing to non-discrimination clauses, and submitting information about your organization, including a mission statement, contact info, and a credible website.
  2. Create an AdWords Account. While you may not use Google’s paid advertising service, you will need an AdWords account for an Ad Grant. One important tip: do NOT enter any credit card information. It may seem like a requirement, but it’s not. By not including this information, you are sure that once your ads are set up, the charges will go through your grant rather than your credit card.
  3. Apply for a Google Ad Grant. Consider how you will use free online advertising to make an impact specifically for your organization. Create a sample ad campaign, and include your Google AdWords account number. You will have to wait for up to 60 days for a decision regarding grant approval.

If your organization is rejected, don’t give up! You can submit your application again. Go back to how you set up your sample campaign, and see where the holes might be. For example, when setting up your campaign, target each ad to a specific outcome and set up goals to measure their success.

For more information on Google Ad Grants for nonprofits and specifics on how to target and test your ad campaigns, look out for more blog posts, events and workshops by signing up to the Forum One newsletter below. Also, feel free to get in touch with me or post a question below.