How To Master Google Ad Grants (The Definitive Guide)

Welcome to one of the most comprehensive guides to Google Ad Grants online. Here you’ll find everything you need to know about how your nonprofit can benefit from up to $120,000 per year in free Google advertising via the Google for Nonprofits program.

Whether you’re just learning about Google Ad Grants, or looking to get better results from your nonprofit’s existing account, our expert guide can help you.

Read on for guidance on setting up your Google Ad Grants account, understanding Google Ads, how to optimise your ads and ultimately, maximise the benefit from this free advertising grant.

You’ll love this guide if you’re looking for a step-by-step guide to Google Ad Grants.

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    1. What exactly is Google Ad Grants?

    Google offers eligible not-for-profit organisations in the UK and multiple other countries $10,000 in free search advertising on the Google search engine every month to support their activities. They do this via their Google for Nonprofits programme.

    As a quick side note, the Google for Nonprofits programme offers a range of other services to nonprofits that are worth checking out.

    The Google Ad Grants allows eligible nonprofits to show ads for relevant searches on Google. Google picks up the tab for this, to the tune of a maximum of $10,000 per month. This is in-kind advertising from Google.

    As a simple example, here you can see the UK homeless charity Shelter displaying an ad when I search for “support homeless charity”:

    Google search results for

    If I click on this ad from Shelter, Shelter’s Ad Grants account is “charged” the cost of the click. Their account will show that their keyword received 1 click “costing” $1.14 (for example). This $1.14 isn’t charged to Shelter, it’s accrued against Shelter’s $10,000 allocation for the month.

    Now that we’re clear on how the Ad Grants works at a basic level, let’s move on to the benefits.

    2. How can the Google Ad Grants help my organisation?

    Fundamentally, the Google Ad Grants provides your nonprofit with the ability to connect with the right people. This might be those looking for your support, people who want to donate to your cause or individuals looking for information about a particular topic.

    If we stick with the homeless charity example, some of the things a charity or other nonprofits in this sector might look to use the Ad Grants are listed below:


    Showing ads to users looking for statistics, information and policy around homelessness. The ad might take the user to pages on the website, showcasing the work the organisation has done in this area.


    Connecting with users actively looking to support nonprofits working in this area. The ad might send them to a landing page with information on the organisation’s work and how their donation can help.


    Ads might be used to help connect people looking for homeless shelters to the right information. For example, a landing page with a list of local shelters in the user’s area.


    The Ad Grants can be used to encourage engagement, such as registering to receive the nonprofit’s newsletter, calling for more information or booking tickets to attend events the organisation is hosting.

    The Google Ad Grants is one of the most highly leveraged marketing opportunities available to nonprofits and should be looked at as a fantastic opportunity.

    3. Is the Google Ad Grants an effective marketing channel for my nonprofit?

    Google has a 90% share of the search engine market worldwide, and there are 5.6 billion searches per day.

    The opportunity to connect with people searching for things relevant to your organisation is huge. The Ad Grants is a highly leveraged marketing channel with a large potential impact for a relatively small investment.

    Few nonprofits use this fantastic opportunity, and we want to help more organisations create a positive impact by supporting them in amplifying their message. This guide should help you do that.

    We’ve seen nonprofits use the free monthly advertising to do things like:

    • Attract more donations online
    • Fundraise for specific campaigns or initiatives
    • Find new patrons
    • Find volunteers
    • Promote events and festivals
    • Raise awareness of their work
    • Provide free resources

    Now that we’ve explained why you should take Google Ad Grants seriously, let’s continue by looking at the setup process.

    For readers who are already using Google Ad Grants, feel free to skip to the bottom of this guide and use the “Contents” section to jump to another part of the guide.

    We’ll take you through the application process step by step. You can then choose to either manage your Ads account internally or speak to our PPC specialists about how we can help you achieve your marketing objectives with the Ad Grants.

    Learn More About The Ad Grant

    1.1. How does advertising on Google work?

    Learn about the different types of Google results and how they all work

    Learn more

    1.4. Are you eligible?

    These are the eligibility requirements for nonprofits in the UK

    Learn more

    1.2. How will my Google Ad Grants work?

    Your Ad Grants account’s performance depends on multiple factors

    Learn more

    1.5. Is your website ready to use Google Ad Grants?

    Your organisation needs a website that complies with these requirements

    Learn more

    1.3. How can Google Ad Grants help my organisation?

    Read our case studies to learn about real charities and how the Ad Grants has helped them

    Learn more

    1. How does advertising on Google work?

    Most of Google’s revenue comes from selling advertising space on its search engine. When you search for something on Google, the word or phrase you enter is called a “search query”.

    With 3.8 million Google searches every minute, there are countless variations of different search queries that users type every day.

    Let’s take a basic example. Imagine you’re looking to hire a car. You might search for something like “car hire”.
    When you search this, you’ll see a results page on Google that looks something like this:

    Google Ads Displayed for search

    There are two different types of results on this page, organic and paid.

    The organic results in the green box (which continue further down on the page), are links to websites that Google thinks are most relevant for your search. Whoever owns this website doesn’t pay anything when a user clicks on their link.
    The paid results are highlighted in the red box and are noted with a small “Ad” box beside them. These links are adverts which organisations pay for when you click on them. These websites are bidding in an auction using Google’s advertising software called Google Ads.

    Within their advertising account, they have an advert set up to show when someone in a targeted location types “car hire”. If you click on their link, the advertiser will pay Google a fee (e.g. £1.45). Advertisers have almost complete control over which search queries they want their ads to appear for.

    Whatever business, industry or sector they are in, the advertiser can choose which searches they want their ad to display for.

    Google’s Ad Grants works in the exact same way as the paid results we’ve just described, except you don’t pay anything when someone clicks, Google does. (Also the Ad Grant programme is all in dollars, regardless of the country you’re based in).

    You can spend up to $10,000 every month on clicks on your adverts for search queries that are relevant to your organisation, which Google provides as an in-kind benefit.

    2. How will my Google Ad Grants work?

    To advertise on Google, you need a Google Ads account. This is essentially a dashboard where you can manage your advertising. Normally, you just need to create a Google Ads account, enter your billing information and start advertising. However, the Ad Grants works in a different way.

    In a nutshell, you first set up a Google Nonprofits account, then set up a Google Ads account and link the two together so that you can run adverts without having to enter billing information since this is not needed to use the free $10,000 per month.

    Once this is complete, you can manage your advertising campaigns within your Google Ads account to achieve your nonprofit’s objectives.

    A common question for nonprofits is: “will we use the full $10,000 per month in advertising?”. The answer is that it depends on three main factors.

    The first factor will likely be how many people are searching for things you want ads to appear for in your target location. A nonprofit working in a very localised geographic area or focusing on a specialist field (for example, a rare form of cancer) is less likely to use the full Ad Grants monthly allocation simply because there are fewer searches on Google that are relevant to the organisation than a national nonprofit or one working in a broader field.

    The second factor is how much content you have on your website. A nonprofit or charity website with dozens of in-depth articles about relevant topics can target a broader range of relevant keywords and get more clicks on their ads than a nonprofit with a website containing only a few pages.

    The third factor is how well managed the nonprofit Ad Grants account is. Proper Ad Grants account management can lead to big increases in clicks and conversions if it is managed effectively.

    As a final note, the Ad Grants programme limits your account spend to $329 per day, so the allocation is spread over a month too.

    3. How can Google Ad Grants help my organisation?

    Let’s take a look at a couple of examples to see how nonprofits have used the Ad Grants to help them achieve their objectives.

    You can read about The Place, a theatre and dance school in London. Thanks to the Google Ad Grants, The Place increased ticket sale revenue from pay-per-click by 149%
    Using better keyword targeting and a clever account structure boosted traffic on the website, which improved the conversion rate.

    Into Film is an education charity that gives every child and young person aged 5 to 19 in the UK the chance to experience film. Using the Google Ad Grants helped them increase their conversion rate and get teachers to sign up for their free film clubs.

    Google has a number of its own case studies on their Google for Nonprofits website too, which you can read here.

    4. Are you eligible?

    Your nonprofit’s eligibility for the Ad Grants depends on which country it is based.

    Google has a list of eligibility requirements for nonprofits in each of the 50 countries where the Google for Nonprofits programme operates.

    Let’s take a look at the eligibility requirements in the UK:

    • The Google Ad Grants is only available for organisations with valid charity status (i.e. they have a charity number) or tax-exempt organisations with HMRC
    • You must be based in the UK
    • Have a compliant website with plenty of content
    • You’ll need to have your charity number clearly visible on your website

    If your nonprofit is a registered charity and has a charity number, you’re eligible to apply.

    If your nonprofit is not a charity but is one of a variety of types of not-for-profit organisations which has tax-exempt status with HMRC, the UK government’s tax body, then you are also eligible.

    5. Is your website ready to use Google Ad Grants?

    Your organisation needs a website that complies with these requirements:

    • Owned website: your organisation must own the website that’s going to be advertised
    • Mission-based: the website must clearly describe the organisation, mission, objectives and activities.
    • User-experience: it must be practical, with clear navigation and calls to action. Drive users to perform an action on your website (donate, subscribe to the newsletter, contact you to volunteer…)
    • The content should be unique and kept updated with new events and information.
    • User-safety: avoid broken links and secure your website with HTTPS.
    • Commercial activity: sales of products and services are allowed, but they can’t be the sole purpose of your website. Describe on your website how your organisation uses funds.
    • Advertising on the site: the ads on your website must be relevant to your mission and unobtrusive.
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