Let’s start with what it is
Finding the budget to conduct an awareness campaign can be challenging, particularly for nonprofit organizations. That’s where Google Grants comes in. Google Grants is, in short, free advertising dollars for nonprofits. (We’ll get to how much shortly!) It’s a great opportunity for organizations that are looking to drive awareness and reach people searching for causes online.
It works just like any other Google search effort. Google Ads (formerly Adwords) campaigns will serve ads to potential volunteers and donors and, through this grant program, those ads are free for your nonprofit. If you haven’t heard about this program, you aren’t alone.
CID has helped a few of our nonprofit clients get set up and use Google Grants for their search programs over the years. It’s proven to be a great addition to their overall digital marketing efforts, helping them fill in some gaps they would have otherwise missed out on.
If your 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization isn’t taking advantage of the program, you’re not just missing out on free advertising dollars. You’re also at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to attracting donors and volunteers. They may not find you, but they will see other causes’ ads.
Ok, so how much and what’s the catch?
Nonprofits who use the Google Grants program could get up to $10,000 per month in Google Search Ads credit.
You did read that right, but go ahead and read it again.
Of course, Google isn’t just giving away money to anybody who wants it. In order to participate your nonprofit needs to apply and meet certain eligibility requirements, have a high-quality website, and conform to Google’s ad policies. (See eligibility requirements below for more details).
If your nonprofit is approved for the program you can use the money to serve search ads on Google’s search engine results pages to build brand awareness, and attract volunteers and donors.
While display ads and more sophisticated Google advertising tactics aren’t part of the program (Google is happy to let you pay for those on your own of course), $10k per month in Search is definitely worth taking advantage of.
Google Ads really are helpful for nonprofits
While not exactly another “catch,” knowing how to manage and optimize your Google Ads campaigns will make a huge difference in how well your ads perform on the platform. Google requires a 5% Click Through Rate per month (if you’re not using Smart Campaigns, Google’s AI offering), no single-word keywords, no generic keywords, no low-quality keywords, and conversion tracking.
Quality Google Ads management can be time-consuming, and with so many factors to consider, having a partner who is well-versed in Google Ads, as well as Google Grants, can help you spend those dollars where they’ll matter most.
If your eyes are already glazing over a little reading that, it’s okay. Connect with a Google Ads partner or an agency that knows the ins and outs of Google (CID happens to be both) to help. They’ll work with you to figure out which keywords will work best for your audience and your organization. They can also manage your spend, set up your account structure, track your campaign’s effectiveness, and make necessary changes to boost performance.
We did just that for a regional healthcare client. On average, the Google Grant account sends about 7,000 people to their website each month, who may not have visited the website otherwise. The campaigns driving people to the website are focused on scheduling blood donation appointments, hosting a blood drive, recruiting volunteers, and promoting their internal blood research initiatives.
Is my nonprofit eligible for Google Grants?
Your nonprofit must meet basic requirements to secure funding, and maintain ongoing requirements to remain eligible:
- Your nonprofit must be a valid charity and have documentation to prove it. In the US, you must be a 501(c)(3) non-profit.
- Fiscally sponsored organizations without 501(c)(3) status are not eligible
- Churches or other groups that are automatically considered tax-exempt must still obtain 501(c)(3) tax exemption
- Your organization needs to have a website with content that is being actively updated.
- Your organization must agree to, and acknowledge, Google’s certifications regarding nondiscrimination and donation receipt.
While that seems relatively straightforward, it can get a little tricky depending on your website’s current state. Having a Google Ad partner or agency partner can help you navigate the requirements and make sure your site meets them all. In our experience, a few simple tweaks and maybe a phone call with a Google rep is all it takes to get most sites in line with the eligibility demands.
Ready to take advantage of Google Grants? CID’s digital marketing team can help you get your program up and running. Send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org