When it comes to digital marketing tools, one of the most effective ones is Google Ads.  And best of all, Google provides a free option for eligible nonprofits, in the form of Google Ad Grants.  Google Ad Grants provide eligible nonprofits with $10,000 a month to promote their nonprofit – that is $120,000 a year in free advertising!  Although Google launched Ad Grants in 2003, it is still unknown to many nonprofits.  So far, over 100,000 nonprofits from 51 countries have already benefited but 100,000+ more nonprofits could benefit from Google Ads Grants but haven’t applied yet.  If your nonprofit isn’t using Google Ads Grants, here are some of the key benefits and steps to get started. 

Free Advertising for Nonprofits from google


Google Ads Grants can be used to help your nonprofit achieve its mission.  Google Ads Grants can be used to raise financial donations, gain new email supporters, or recruit more volunteers.  Google Ads Grants allows you to target people across the globe or those in your local community. After you launch your ads, you can use Google Analytics to understand how your ads are performing.  You can use this information to optimize your ads and leverage the insights in your marketing strategies.

How to Get Started

Here are the 5 steps that you need to follow to get started.

  1. Check your Eligibility: Before you apply, check that your nonprofit is based in a country where Google Ad Grants are available and that you comply with the other eligibility requirements.  Most nonprofits are eligible but there are 3 types of nonprofits that are not eligible.
    1. Government organizations
    1. Health-care  organizations
    1. Educational organizations
  2. Apply for a Google for Nonprofits Account
  3. Submit the Ads Grant Eligibility Form
  4. Confirm Eligibility Form Completion
  5. Submit your Activation Request

The entire process typically takes about 1 month to complete.  If you need help with the process, there are organizations that can help guide you (100% free).

Here is the sign-up link for your Google Ad Grants application.

Google Ad Words Tips For Nonprofit

Here are some quick tips to set your Google Ad Words strategy up for success.

  1. Research keywords: Research keywords that your target audience may be using.  If you use search terms that people are not searching for, then your ads will not show.  Google Ads has a built-in tool called the Keyword Planner, which lets you see the search volume for different terms and what phrases they are using.  Review what search terms are driving the most traffic to your website.  You can do this by looking at your website’s analytics or using the Google Analytics tool.
  2. Place keywords in your ad copy: Create an ad set for each keyword you want to rank for and make sure that the keyword appears within the ad copy – in both the headline and description.  This will increase the relevancy of your ad and make it more likely that people will click on it. 
  3. Develop effective ads:  Create 3 – 5 effective ads per ad group that are relevant to the keywords in each ad group.  Google will automatically rotate and prioritize the best performing ads.  Per Google, short, non-repetitive sentences work best and nonprofits should avoid uncommon acronyms and abbreviations. 
  4. Create multiple campaigns: You should develop multiple campaigns if you have different objectives and/or are targeting different geographic locations.  For example, if you want to create ads that ask supporters to make a financial donation and others that ask supporters to sign up for your email newsletter, these ad groups should each have their own campaign.  Similarly, you should create different campaigns if you are targeting different geographic locations.  Potential supporters may be more likely to click on ads that reference their geographic location (i.e. “Food banks in Washington D.C.”) so you will need to create separate campaigns if you want to target different geographic locations.  Your daily budget, bidding strategy, targeted locations, and campaign goals are set at the campaign level. 
  5. Budget:  If you only develop one campaign then set the daily budget to $329 ($10,000 / 30.4 the average number of days per month).  If you create multiple campaigns, make sure that the total daily budgets for all of your campaigns do not exceed $329/day. You can also allow multiple campaigns to share a common budget. 
  6. Create Targeted Landing Pages:  Develop specific landing pages based on the key message in your ads.  For example, if your ad is asking people to sign up for a newsletter, then once they click on the ad, they should be directed to a landing page focused on newsletter signups.
  7. Track and Analyze Your Results:   You can use Google Ads or Google Analytics to track what supporters do once they click on your ads and arrive at your site.  For example, let’s say some of your keywords, direct people, to make a financial donation while other keywords ask people to sign up for your newsletter.  Having this information will help you determine what types of keywords and ads to set up for future campaigns and which ones you need to stop using because they are not working.

Here are some things to avoid in managing your Google Ad Grants.

Success Story

Samaritans, an organization that is focused on suicide prevention, operates an emotional support helpline that is available for free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Their main marketing objective was to raise awareness of the helpline and reduce the number of suicides.  Samaritans used their Google Ad Grants account to test marketing strategies and supplemented their account with a paid Google Ads account over the holiday season to amplify their fundraising efforts.  The Ad Grants campaigns delivered over $48,000 in revenue and over 1,700 volunteer sign-ups. 

Here is additional information on their success and other success stories to help inspire you!

Google has compiled a set of resources and tips to help nonprofits respond to the Coronavirus.