Getting Started With Google Ad Grants for Nonprofits

In the second installment of excerpts from our whitepaper, we share the basics of setting up Google Ad Grants shell accounts and campaigns.

Google recently announced that its Google Grants program is now called Google Ad Grants. Same wonderful program, just a new name to clarify that Google won’t be sending your nonprofit a check each month but rather granting $10,000 in free ads.

So without further ado, let’s get into chapters two and three from our Google Ad Grants whitepaper.


After being accepted to the program, you will need to create a Google Adwords account in order for Google to provide your nonprofit’s grant money. Detailed directions on setting up your empty or shell account are here. Please review the instructions carefully.

Here is a quick outline of some of the key steps.

Step 1: Go to

Step 2: Click “Get Started” and create a login.

Three very important things to remember when creating your account:

  • Choose USD as your currency – even if your nonprofit is outside of the U.S.
  • Ignore the notifications prompting you to enter payment info. Entering payment information will turn your free account into a paid account.
  • Do not create a campaign yet.

Step 3: Submit your account ID number to Google. If your organization is based in the U.S., go to Google for Nonprofits and submit the information on your Google Grants Enrollment page. If your nonprofit is not in the U.S., please see your acceptance email for further instructions.

Step 4: Google will take up to six weeks to review your submission. Once done, they will notify you via email. You can then begin building your first campaign.

Chapter 3: CAMPAIGNS

Campaigns are overarching themes within your organization’s website such as volunteering, donating and special events.

Step 1: Log in to Google Adwords using the login information you set up.

Step 2: Once logged in, click on the “Campaigns” tab at the top of the page. Looks pretty empty doesn’t it? So why not take this moment to create your first campaign. Google has strict rules on what sort of campaigns you can create, so follow these next set of directions carefully.

Step 3: Click the “New Campaign” button.

Step 4: From the dropdown menu, select “Search Network only.”

Google Grants Set Up

Do not choose “Display Network.” Also, note: You cannot have image product listing ads, YouTube ads or anything other than standard ads in your account – you will lose your grant if you have those types of ads.

Step 5: Enter a campaign name. Double check to make sure the campaign is set to “Search Network only.” Select “All Features” from the list of choices listed to the side.

Google Grants Set Up

Step 6: Networks: One of the restrictions of Google Ad Grants is that you cannot advertise on their search partner websites. These would include sites like YouTube and So make sure to uncheck the box that reads “Include search partners.” (See image above.)

Step 7: Devices: Ads will show up on all devices – computers, smartphones and tablets – unless you change the settings here. If you don’t have a good reason to exclude people on mobile devices, keep the settings as is.

Step 8: Choose your locations. You can choose all countries and territories – meaning every country Google operates in – or narrow it down to just the U.S. or the U.S. and Canada. The “Let me choose…” button will let you choose specific locations based on state, city or zip code.

Google Grants Geo Targeting

You want your ads to be relevant to your audience. So for example, if you are a bike lending service in San Francisco, there’s no reason to have ads outside of the metro area. However, if you work on global issues, then it might make sense to choose “all countries and territories.” However, if a particular project is relevant to a geographic region, make sure that your campaign settings are set to that region.

Step 9: Set your budget and bidding options. Choose “I’ll manually set my bids for clicks” as per the image below. The other option is to let Adwords automatically adjust your bids, which is not allowed since you would go over your $2 CPC bid max. Cost per click (CPC) is the average amount you pay every time someone clicks on your ad. A bid is the maximum amount you would be willing to spend on that click.

Step 10: Set your default bid. You can bid a maximum of $2. Anything higher than that would be in violation of your grant.

Google Grants

Step 11: Set your budget. This is the daily budget for just this campaign. The rules of the grant state that you can set a daily budget of no more than $329. Choose less than that if you plan to have more than one campaign. In the example in the image above, we chose a budget of $50 a day.

Remember you only have $329 a day for your entire account. Don’t spend it all on one campaign.

Step 12: Google lets you further customize your campaign by using a variety of “ad extensions.” You may skip this part. Most beginners find ad extensions unnecessary.

Step 13: Click “Save and Continue.”

Don’t forget to structure your account to reflect the general structure of your website.

In chapters four and five next week, we’ll look into Adwords taxonomy and Ad Groups. And as always, feel free to contact us at if you have any questions.


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