Guide to Google Ad Grants for Nonprofits

At Media Cause, we’re huge fans of the Google Ad Grants program. We love helping our clients and other nonprofits make the most of this advertising tool.

Google recently reported that more than 10,000 nonprofits have joined the program. It’s great that Google’s generosity extends to such a large group and that the company is making a huge impact on the world by supporting all of these organizations. But with nearly two million nonprofits in the U.S. alone and double that number around the world, 10,000 is a small percentage. That’s why we’re so excited to share our free whitepaper on Google Ad Grants, a comprehensive guide to help nonprofits navigate this program. Download the whitepaper to use as a reference guide when you’re logged into Adwords to manage your nonprofit’s grant.

In the coming weeks we will share excerpts from this guide chapter by chapter. Busy nonprofits marketers who don’t have the time to read the entire 40-page whitepaper in one sitting can subscribe to our RSS feed.


Google provides $10,000 each month in AdWords advertising to nonprofits that qualify for the program. We often hear from nonprofits groups that they have a difficult time spending the entire grant amount every month. Many report that they are spending only a few dollars per day. The Google Ad Grants team said the average nonprofit spends just $330 a month, essentially wasting $9,700 that could have been used to promote all of their great work and recruit new supporters. Keep the tips below in mind to run a successful Adwords campaign:

Media Cause’s 4 key points to Google Ad Grants success

1. Use relevant keywords

Relevancy is a topic we discuss a lot in our whitepaper, so it’s good to introduce you to the concept now. Relevancy is how well your website matches a website visitor’s expectations.

For example, if someone searches for “nonprofits” they are most likely looking for the definition of the word, the history of nonprofits or possibly a directory listing of nonprofit groups. They aren’t looking for your organization. The same can be said of other generic words like “give,” “donate” and “volunteer.” So don’t waste your time and Google Ad Grant dollars going after generic nonprofit keywords. Be precise when choosing keywords. If someone searches for “rainforest animals,” putting an ad up to collect donations to save rainforests won’t be effective. In fact, if you don’t have content on your website related to animals in the rainforest, you won’t be able to put an ad up at all.

Later on in this guide, we will go over how to choose relevant keywords and create relevant ads and landing pages so you can take full advantage of the grant.

2. Focus on promoting your nonprofit’s causes

Okay, it’s time for some tough love. No one is searching for an organization to support financially. Even if someone visits your website via a Google ad, they won’t immediately hit the “donate” button. People usually go online to learn more about an issue or a cause. If you can capture the attention of those people with your nonprofit’s ad, in time you can turn them into donors.

This chart illustrates the hard truth. Many more people are looking for information on a cause than a specific organization to donate money to.

Google Grants Keywords

3. Don’t chase dollars, instead gain supporters

This ties into the point made above. Very few people will be willing to donate to a nonprofit the first time they visit its website. Does that mean you shouldn’t ask them for anything? Absolutely not.

Ask visitors to sign up for your nonprofit’s email newsletter, to “like” your group’s Facebook page, to follow your organizations Twitter handle or some other low-risk activity. After building a relationship with these potential supporters through those channels, it will be much easier to ask for donations. The likelihood of them giving at that point is much higher.

Google Grants Ad Example

This nonprofit’s ad is an excellent example of how to draw people to an issue. Once people are interested in your nonprofit’s cause, you will be highly successful when you ask for donations from those people.

4. Begin with the end in mind

What are the goals for your organization’s website? We often hear from nonprofits that they want more volunteers. But many of those organizations don’t have volunteer sign-up forms or webpages with information on how people can get involved on their websites. So before launching your nonprofit’s first ad on Google, examine all the goals for your organization’s website and make any necessary changes. The goals could be to:

  • Grow your nonprofit’s email list
  • Encourage people to download a fact sheet
  • Inspire people fill out an online form or petition
  • Generate more online donations

The best NGOs know exactly how much every contact is worth to them. One simple method is to track the number of email addresses your organization receives over a period of time, the number of donations it receives online and the average size of these donations.

In the next post in this series we’ll delve into setting up a Google Adwords account for your nonprofit. Stay tuned!


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