[Updated 2019] Where to Begin with Google Ad Grants

Alyssa Hansen December 01, 2014, by Alyssa Hansen

Nonprofits have always lagged behind for-profit companies when it comes to advertising. Instead, they attempt to spread awareness through various visual media, events, and celebrity-driven campaigns. However, if your organization had the funds to plant traditional ads to increase awareness, donations, or volunteers, why not take advantage of the extra exposure?

Google launched its Google Ad Grants program for registered nonprofits back in 2003, based on the philosophy of Google founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, "to extend Google Ad Grants to as many organizations as possible—to share our philosophy of community service to help the world".

Google Ad Grants has certainly evolved since its original days, however, with new roll-outs in functionality and scope every few years. Originally, organizations that were approved (after a process of up to 6 months) could post up to $10,000 in pay-per-click text ads that link back to a nonprofit website. In 2010, nonprofits with the highest-performing accounts became eligible to apply for additional grant funding of up to $30,000 with Grantspro.  Soon after, due to the popularity of the program, Google for Nonprofits was introduced as an inclusive service that covered Grants, Youtube, Google Earth, and Google Apps (Google Drive, Gmail, Google Hangout, Google Analytics, Google Forms, and more).

What are the benefits of applying for the Google Ad Grants program for your organization ?

  • Get more hits on your website
  • Gather emails of potential supporters by including a way to provide their email address after clicking on the ad
  • Expand your newsletter audience by adding an option to sign-up for your newsletter
  • Increase viewers of your media content (especially with Youtube videos embedded on your site)
  • Increase online donations by linking to a donations landing page

No matter how small or understaffed you think your organization may be, receiving a grant for Google Ads can offer big rewards in growing a support-base for your nonprofit. If you are a registered 501c3 are do NOT fall under one of the following categories, click here to start the consideration process (you'll need a Google account to begin).

  • Governmental entities and organizations
  • Hospitals and health care organizations
  • Schools, childcare centers, academic institutions and universities

Some stipulations for you or your intern to keep in mind:

  • only text-based ads are allowed, so you'll have to be creative and not rely on emotional imagery
  • only visitors to Google.com will view your ads
  • ads should target specific keywords related to your nonprofit or cause (include a call to action and what makes your nonprofit unique)
  • select your city, state, regional area, or even a circumference around your organization
  • if your nonprofit serves a multilingual community, don't forget to list your ads in several languages

See examples of well-worded ads below:

Cancer Survivors Help Line
Volunteers needed now. 
Online training available! 

Casa de Misericordia
CASA provides a safe haven for
victims of domestic violence. 

Micro-Finance - Microlending can end poverty - FINCA.org‎
$25 today will change lives. 
Online training available! 

Alyssa Hansen

Alyssa Hansen

Alyssa Hansen is a Senior Account Manager at Elevation, a full-service nonprofit web design agency. With a background working in nonprofit communications, Alyssa's experience helps clients develop a new vision for their website. When she's not at her desk, she's passionate about microfinance, traveling, and learning new languages.

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