3. Basic Google Ads Set Up

Welcome to part three of our comprehensive guide to Google Ad Grants for charities and non-profits.

In Part 3, we’re going to talk you through getting some campaigns created so that your ads can start running. We’ll go through all the basic information you need to start driving traffic to your website.

Let’s get started!

Don’t have time to read the whole guide right now?

Managing a non-profit it’s not easy, if you’re too busy to read the guide now, just add your email and we’ll send it to you right away.

    3.1 The Basics

    Account structure

    To use the Google Ad Grants, you needed to set up a Google Ads account and link it to your Google for Nonprofits account. We covered how to do this in part 2.

    We strongly recommend using the “proper” Google Ads setup, described in part 2 as the “Google Ads Expert Mode”. This gives you maximum control over your account. Below is a structure you can only create in this type of account.

    Within a Google Ads account, you can create Campaigns which in turn contain Ad Groups and Keywords.

    A map of a typical Google Ads account structure

    The $10,000 Google Ad Grants allocation is assigned at an account level. That means you can run as many campaigns as you like across different themes.

    Let’s take an example to illustrate this:

    I run a make-believe homeless charity that operates across the UK. My charity uses its website to signpost emergency shelters for people who are homeless, promote fundraising events we’re hosting, advertise volunteer positions and showcase research we’ve completed around government policy on homelessness.

    For my charity, I might set up a campaign structure as follows:

    An example of how one could map out Google Ad Campaigns and Ad Groups

    In this example, there is only one keyword per ad group. However, depending on your structure and keyword match type, you might decide to have more, similar, keywords in each ad group.

    Google has an excellent guide to basic Google Ads account structures that you can find here.

    As per the Google Ad Grants policy, you need to create at least 2 ad groups per campaign, which must contain active ads that are relevant to your keywords.

    Ad copy writing

    Once you’ve set up your campaigns, ad groups and keywords, you will want to add two ad variations to each ad group.

    Make sure the ad copy is as relevant to the keywords in your ad group as possible, as these ads will show for all of the keywords in the ad group. This is also the reason why it is important to ensure keywords within ad groups are grouped around the same theme.

    For example, if you had one ad group containing keywords for policy and volunteering, your ads would only be able to go to one website URL. So you’d be sending users interested in volunteering to policy documents, or those interested in policy to the volunteering pages. Neither of which would be a good user experience and would damage the quality score.


    Sitelinks appear under your ads and take the users to specific pages on your site. They’re a great way of showcasing additional pages from your website within your ad.

    In the example below, the sitelinks are the four hyperlinks displayed below the main ad copy (Hours, Specials, Biscuits and Healthy Diets).

    Google Ad Results for Walters Bakery For Dogs

    As per Ad Grants policy, every campaign needs at least two sitelinks extensions with different destination URLs.

    3.2 Tracking Conversions: Standard Google Analytics

    You need to ensure you are tracking key events on your website, such as contact form submissions or pdf downloads. This is one of the most important things you need to implement for a successful digital marketing strategy, and especially for your Ad Grants account.

    You can set up conversion tracking in Google Ads in various ways. We would highly recommend setting up key goals in Google Analytics and then importing these to your Google Ads account.

    The first step is to link Google Ads and Google Analytics, which you can do by following Google’s instructions here: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1033961?hl=en

    Next, you want to create some key goals to track in Analytics and then import them to Google Ads.

    Smart Goals

    One really simple method is to add a Smart Goal into your Analytics account. This isn’t the most useful metric to track, as it triggers on your “best website sessions” rather than when an explicit action, such as a contact form submission, is completed.

    However, if you don’t have conversion tracking in place and you’ve had at least 500 visits to your website over the last 30 days, you can set one of these up fairly quickly using the instructions here: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/6153083?hl=en

    Destination Goals

    These are excellent and simple conversion actions to implement because they don’t rely on adding any code to the website. It only works if you have confirmation pages after a user submits a form.

    Let’s say you have a contact form which redirects the user to a “thank you” page after they’ve submitted the form. You can set up a destination goal to trigger when a user visits this “thank you” page.

    You can read more about destination goals here: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1116091?hl=en

    Event-based Goals with Google Tag Manager

    The most complex method, but the most accurate. This involves either adding a Google Analytics code to fire on events such as button clicks or form submissions, or adding Google Tag Manager to the website and setting up event tracking there.

    We recommend using Tag Manager as creating events in one place is easier than adding a code for each event. You can follow this guide to create a Google Tag Manager account: https://support.google.com/tagmanager/answer/6103696?hl=en

    You just need to add the GTM code to your website before you start creating tags. A Tag is what fires when someone completes an action on your site. This is what you’ll see as an Event on Google Analytics. 

    google tag manager

    Once you’ve created the events, you can create an Analytics goal that tracks every time a particular event fires. After setting up your goals, follow Google’s instructions to import them as conversions to your Google Ads account: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1034306?hl=en

    Google’s policy states that your account needs to have at least one conversion tracking if you’re using automated bidding strategies such as “Maximise Conversions”.

    3.3 Tracking Conversions: Google Analytics 4

    If you’ve created a new Google Analytics account, you will automatically use Google Analytics 4 (GA4). A new version of Standard Analytics with some more accessible event tracking options. Here’s how to set up your GA4: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/9304153

    After creating your GA4 account, you’ll be able to enable enhanced measurement, which automatically collects multiple events you can import into your Ads account, like page views, video engagement, file downloads and site searches. https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/9216061

    enhanced tracking

    In this case, if you’re happy using these basic events as goals for your Ad Grants, you don’t need to set up any more events.

    Just enable the ones you want to track by visiting your Data Stream on GA4.

    But if you’d like to track other conversions like form submissions or eCommerce transactions, you’ll have to add those via Google Tag Manager: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/11147304?hl=en&ref_topic=9756175

    3.4 Keeping your account compliant

    A successful Ad Grants account needs to be actively managed, checked and updated to ensure it delivers results and avoids an account deactivation.

    Google has a full list of their compliance requirements here: https://support.google.com/grants/answer/9042207?hl=en

    You must monitor and fix any problems to ensure your account isn’t deactivated.

    If your account does run into problems, you need first to determine why your account was deactivated. Go through the policy requirements linked above one by one. Make any required changes to bring it back into compliance.

    Once this is done, you can contact Google to request reactivation using this form: https://support.google.com/grants/contact/Request_for_reactivation_cases_2

    3.5 Summary

    So we’ve given a brief overview of the basic Google Ads account setup, how to set up conversion tracking, and how to keep your account compliant.

    With these essential components, you can get your account up and running and drive relevant visitors to your website.

    In part 4, we will cover some more advanced techniques you can use and some additional pay-per-click related marketing channels you may wish to explore.

    Go to the Guide's fourth part

    Or if you prefer, contact us for more information about the Grant and how we can help create or optimise your Google Ad Grants account

    Contact us