February 4, 2019 | By: Tony Mastri

Google Ad Grants (Google AdWords) for Nonprofits

As a nonprofit organization, gaining buy-in from the community is paramount to accomplishing your mission and making the world a better place. Marketing your mission and values isn’t always easy. The Google Ad Grants program was created to help you spread the word in a meaningful and targeted way.

What Is Google Ad Grants?

Google Ad Grants (frequently referred to as Google AdWords for Nonprofits) is a program that lets 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations reach and inform people searching for nonprofits online through free Google Ads placements. The Google Grants program was launched in 2003 and is available in over 50 countries.

Google Ad Grants Eligibility

There are several eligibility criteria for nonprofits wishing to leverage ad grants from Google.

1. Apply for Google for Nonprofits

You must enroll in the Google for Nonprofits program. To start, you must be registered as a charitable organization. This means that the IRS must recognize your organization as a 501(c)(3), even if you have a group exemption (such as a church). Google requires that your organization be verified by TechSoup (to build a level of automation to their eligibility process).

  • You cannot be a hospital or healthcare establishment
  • You cannot be a government entity or organization
  • You cannot be a school, university, or academic institution

2. Hold 501(c)(3) Organization Status

Being recognized as a 501(c)(3) organization is part of the application process for Google for Nonprofits as well as a requirement for the Google Ad Grants program.

3. Agree to Nondiscrimination and Donation Receipt Use

You must certify the following about your organization:

  • Your hiring/employment practices don’t discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • You don’t discriminate on an unlawful basis for hiring/employment practices or program and service administration within your company.
  • “My organization may receive this donation under its own policy and applicable laws and regulations; this donation will not negatively impact Google’s current or future ability to do business with my organization; and this donation will not be used to corruptly influence any government official to obtain or retain business or any improper advantage.”

4. Have an Acceptable Website

The website policy for Google Ad Grants is very comprehensive. Your organization’s domain name must be approved during the Google grant application process. You can request to have additional domains approved using a special form that is reviewed within 10 days of submission.

how to apply for Google Ad Grants

Our bullet points below will cover the bulk of what the website policy entails but for more details see the official Google Ads for Nonprofits site.

  • You must own the domain that your ad users are sent to upon clicking your ads. In some situations, you can send your ad users directly to third-party verified donation processors like Classy, FrontStream Artez, or Blackbaud Luminate.
  • Your website must be “high quality.” This means a great About Us page with details on your organization, its mission, and the activities it is involved in. Your site must offer a great user experience (quick load times, easy navigation, good CTAs) with unique content, verifiable claims (if any), and a secure HTTPS connection.
  • Your site cannot revolve around commercial transactions. If your site does facilitate eCommerce, you must disclose an annual report that shows exactly how the proceeds are used.
  • Your site cannot use Google AdSense or affiliate advertising links. Any existing ads need to be relevant to your mission and non-obtrusive.

If your site is struggling to comply with the criteria, let MARION help. Our web design company can help you polish your user experience, navigation, and develop unique and valuable content with our content marketing services.

Need to improve your website’s performance? Download this free eBook to discover the 24 website must-haves for improved traffic, engagement, and conversions on your site.

Google Grants for Churches

If you meet all the requirements of the Google AdWords grant for nonprofits, then your church can access the monthly $10,000 of free Google Ad Grants.

Google grants can help drive awareness for your church and spread your mission in a meaningful way. Alternatively, author Jeremy Smith speculates that Google Grants for Nonprofits are a way for the tech giant to get tax write-offs, refine their advertising product, and inflate keyword bid prices for advertisers that don’t have access to ad grants.

Regardless, maintaining your Google Ad Grants eligibility can be difficult for a church for several reasons. Read the section below about how to stay eligible for Google Ad Grants to see why using Google grants for churches may prove difficult.

Google Grants for Schools

In most cases, using Google Ad Grants for schools isn’t possible. Schools, universities, and educational institutions cannot join Google for Nonprofits, and they aren’t classified as 501(c)(3) organizations. Your school itself may not qualify, but Google makes a point to say that “philanthropic arms of educational institutions are eligible.”

While a Google Ad Grant may not be accessible to your educational institution, there are resources available through the Google for Education program. This includes G Suite for Education, online computer science training, and more.

Google Grants for non-profits

How to Apply for Google Ad Grants

Now that you have all the Google Ad Grants eligibility requirements above, you can get started in five easy steps:

  1. Verify that you’re eligible for the Google Grants program.
  2. Enroll in the Google for Nonprofits program (this has additional eligibility requirements – make sure you’re registered with TechSoup).
  3. Apply for the Google Ad Grants Program.
  4. Create your Google Ads account to set up your search ads.
  5. Submit your Google Ads account and campaign for review.

How to Stay Eligible for Google Ad Grants

To start, your account must be structured using the appropriate geo-targeting. If your nonprofit serves your local area, make sure your Google Ads geo-targeting reflects that. If you try to run a national campaign just to use your $10k ad budget, your account could be suspended.

You must have at least two ad groups with two active text ads in each campaign. Make sure you have two different sitelink extensions set up in your account as well. These criteria are mostly in place so that Google Ad Grant users are following the minimum acceptable best practices. If you can’t meet these standards, you will have to opt for AdWords Express instead of the full Google Ads experience.

Next, if you’re not using AdWords Express, your account has to have an average Google Ads CTR of at least 5%. Further, if you’re using a bidding strategy that requires some sort of conversion information (like Maximize Conversion, Target ROAS, etc.), then you must properly set up conversion tracking.

Even if you have your account set up and nearly optimized, you still need to log in monthly or you run the risk of being suspended. Follow all program policies, and you should be able to maintain eligibility with ease.

Make sure you revisit and maintain the criteria from our Have an Acceptable Website section above.

Other Marketing Grants for Nonprofits

The Google AdWords Grant program isn’t the only available program for nonprofits. Here are more marketing grants that you can leverage to improve your digital marketing presence.

YouTube for Nonprofit

The Google Ad Grant will only get you text ads in search, but what if your nonprofit could benefit from video exposure? The YouTube Nonprofit Program might be just what you need.

The YouTube program lets you use special CTA overlays and donation “cards” on your videos, so you can send viewers to the appropriate donation channels. YouTube is a Google company, and they also require that you apply for Google for Nonprofits to join their program.


Established in 2002, Grants.gov is a repository and clearinghouse for thousands of grant programs. While they may not be marketing specific, you can search and apply for grants that apply to your organization. Grant applicants will be taken through a five-step application process before applying to any grants.

Seek Expert Marketing Help

MARION marketing is a top marketing agency in Houston and Austin. While we are not part of the Ad Grants Certified Professionals Community, we have years of experience offering effective pay-per-click services to area businesses.

Contact MARION today to learn how we can help your organization reach its goals!


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About Tony Mastri

Tony Mastri, Digital Marketing Manager at MARION, is an experienced agency and in-house digital marketer. With a proven background in content strategy, relationship-based link building, and technical SEO, he makes data-informed decisions that drive client growth.

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