Google Ad Grants for Nonprofits and Charities

Google Ad Grants for Nonprofits and Charities

Thanks to a gentle side of the giant, nonprofit organisations and charities across many countries, including Australia, are able to apply for a Google Grant.

What is a Google Ad Grant?

This is an opportunity to promote the organisation through Google AdWords up to the tune of $10,000 US every month. In reality, it is unlikely that your ads will generate this amount of clicks, but this is the maximum on offer.

The ad links must be Search network only, so you cannot use banners or images; it is Text Ads only, I’m afraid.

All the links from the ads must also go to ONE website and they cannot be commercial in nature. If you have multiple websites, you will need to consider creating a page for each of those websites on your flagship site, and directing traffic to that page. It means an extra click, but it should be worth it. Keep in mind that this does NOT mean it’s okay to have visitors land on a page full of links to other commercial websites. Google will not be happy if you are trying to work against the spirit of its offering. Nor will anyone else who is misled by your phony philanthropy.

How to Apply

Applying is a three-step process and, like many Google products, can be confusing.  I have created hundreds of  Google Ads, but I have to admit that I failed on my first two attempts.

What you need to succeed is:

• to be a registered nonprofit or charity and be able to prove it with a notification that you are registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) with Deductible Gift Recipient status.

• have a clear and compelling mission statement (If you don’t, write one.)

• write an essay (300-500 words) describing how the Google Ad Grant would help your organisation

First things first.

Step One: Set up a brand new Google account. You can’t use an existing one and it is preferable to use your organisation’s email address and domain if you can.

Step Two: Set-up an AdWords Account and create at least one ad Campaign and Ad Group. You can create more later, but one campaign with one or two ad groups if fine.

Step Three: Write down (or copy) the customer AdWords ID number that will be on the top right of the screen. You’ll need it soon.

It’s important that you ensure a couple of things are done precisely or you’ll get a rejection notice.

1. Set your country as United States (even if you are in Australia).

You can limit search to Australia only but don’t fiddle with the US.

2. Make sure to select ‘Search only’ and  UNCHECK the pre-ticked box that says ‘include search partners’ underneath this. Critical!

2. Make sure you choose $2.00 as your default bid per click. This is a mandatory. You cannot set Google to choose. You must enter $2 for each click.

3. You must also enter the daily limit maximum of $329. This works out to be $10,000 if it were to be fulfilled. As I said earlier, this is unlikely.

4. When it comes to Billing, DO NOT ENTER a credit card. You have to choose ‘Save and Finish Later’ or ‘Set up Billing later’. If you do enter card details, you might be liable for any ads that start running and you won’t qualify for the grant.


After you have created your ads, then you make your official application.

Have your ID number ready and your PDF notification of charity status.

Limitations of the Grant

This is a great coup for many nonprofits and has the potential to be a real driver for many if used well. But it does have limitations.

One limitation is that the links do all need to direct traffic to one website. Many organisations have multiple business units, but, fair enough, it’s free.

Secondly, anyone with experience using AdWords knows that $2 per click is not that high. In many cases your keywords will be below first page because the minimum bid will be $2.75 or $3 or more.

Thirdly, very specific keywords often generate such low search volumes that Google won’t bother including them. When you get a low search warning, you need to change it to something less specific and thereby run the risk of being outbid.

The golden zone is harder to reach when you have the $2 limitation, so more keyword phrases may be required than normal.

Lastly, the process seems easy in hindsight but the amount of time I spent trying to get it right was high. It is important that you don’t try to apply for the grant before you have created your ads. It’s also important that you don’t create your ads from an existing AdWords account. Start fresh and follow the order described in this article.

Google also has decent step-by-step procedures for making the application. I would only say ‘decent’ though, I wouldn’t say ‘terrific’ because there a minor bits left out that you need to know. I’ve tried to cover them here.

Good luck!