The Easy-to-Get Grant Your Organization May Have Overlooked

If you work at a non-profit, you may be overly familiar with the long, tedious grant-writing process. But many non-profit organizations are unaware of the great resources and perks Google offers 501(c)3 organizations — and of how simple it can be to take advantage!

The Google for Nonprofits program offers a wide variety of resources, from access to G Suite tools (email, cloud-based document creation and storage, chat features and calendars) to the One Today mobile fundraising platform. But one of Google’s most powerful opportunities for nonprofits is the Google Ad Grant.

A free $10,000? Yes, please!

Google Ads is a digital advertising platform that allows you to run ads on Google results pages. This means you can get your services, offerings, events, and programs front and center for the people who are searching for something exactly like what you have to offer.

With the Google Ads Grant for Nonprofits, you receive $10,000 a month to use for text ads recruiting volunteers, promoting your mission, spreading the word about your programs and encouraging donations.

Note: The Google Ads platform also allows you to run display and retargeting ads, but at this time you can only use the Google Grant for text ads. 

How to get signed up

Google Grants are available to anyone recognized by the IRS as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization formed for “charitable, educational, religious, literary, scientific, or other tax-exempt purposes.” There are some restrictions — your organization cannot be a governmental entity, hospital, or school, for example. (If you’re a school or educational institution, Google has specific education-based programs for you. If you’re the philanthropic arm of an educational institutions, though, you’re still eligible.)

To get started, take the following steps:

  1. Review your site to ensure it meets Google’s quality and content requirements. These include, among others:
    • a robust and clear description of your organization, it’s mission and its activities
    • unique content
    • fast-loading, secure pages without broken links
    • limited ads
  2. Register and get a validation token from TechSoup.
  3. Once you have a token, register for the Google NonProfit Program here (approval takes a day or two).
  4. Create an ads account, create a campaign, and wait for Google to approve your account (typically takes less than 30 days).

“But I have no idea how to run digital ads,” you might say. This is where I pitch Willow and say, “We can help!” But seriously, while it does take some time and knowledge to get digital ad campaigns going, Google Ads makes it fairly simple and has useful resources and customer service when you need help.

Tips and Tricks

As we’ve worked with clients to set up and manage their Google Ad Grants accounts, we’ve learned a few lessons that might help you:

  • Don’t use Google Express — stick with the standard Ads platform. The Express option is promoted as an easier option, but it limits a lot of functionality and takes away some control over your ads.
  • When creating your Ads account, use the same email that’s connected to the NonProfit Program. This is important in making sure your grant money goes to the right place.
  • Don’t fill out billing information in Google Ads. You may see alerts telling you that billing information is missing — ignore these.
  • Make sure you’re aware of the ad restrictions and setup requirements to keep your Google Grant. None of these are very complicated, but they’re necessary to keep your account in good standing. A few highlights:

You cannot use single-word keywords, except for branded words

You cannot bid on names of other organizations or people

You cannot bid on keywords for which you have a quality score of 1 or 2 (you can set up an automated rule to avoid this)

You must have specific geo-targeting for your ads

You must have conversion tracking set up

Your ads must get at least a 5% click-through-rate (at the account level)

You must log in and make changes to your account at least once every two months


With some initial setup and a little bit of regular maintenance, the Google Ads Grant can be a huge help in achieving your nonprofit’s goals. $120,000 a year can go a long way when it comes to improving your visibility online.

If you’ve got questions about Google Grants or Ads, reach out! We’re happy to help.

Haley Kuehl headshot

Written by Haley Kuehl

“Your website is the face of your brand online—I help put it in the spotlight.”