How to Use Google Ad Grants

At this week’s instructive Lunch and Learn, Cody Damon of Media Cause, an award-winning nonprofit digital agency, discussed the ways organizations should utilize Google Ad Grants, a program that awards 501(c)3s with $10,000 of free advertising per month.

What is the Google Ad Grants program?

  • The nonprofit edition of AdWords, Google’s premium online advertising tool
  • The program allocates $10,000 a month in AdWords to use in order to promote their mission through the Google search page.
  • The Grantspro program offers an increased spend cap of $40,000 per month for eligible Google Ad Grantees.
    • To qualify for the Grantspro program, grantees must meet a list of requirements. For more specifics click here.

How do you enroll?

  • Must apply, every 501(c)3 is eligible
  • To be eligible for Google Ad Grants:
    • Must hold current and valid charity status
    • Acknowledge and agree to the application’s required certifications regarding nondiscrimination and donation receipt and use
    • Does not accept:
      • Government entities and organizations
      • Hospitals and medical groups
      • Schools, childcare centres, academic institutions and universities
    • Your ads must only link to the nonprofit website domain that was approved in the application
    • You are required to manage the AdWords account by logging in monthly and make at least one change to your account every 90 days
    • Your ads must reflect the mission of the approved nonprofit and your keywords must be relevant
    • Commercial advertising is not allowed, 100% of the sales and/or proceeds must support your program
    • Your Google ads cannot link to pages that are primarily links to other websites

How it works:

Users craft individual ad groups that contain clusters of strategic keywords which are then organized into campaigns.

Keywords: words or phrases you choose to help determine when and where your ad can appear

  • The keywords you choose show your ads based on Google searches using those words
  • Select high-quality, relevant keywords for your ad campaign to help you reach only relevant audiences
  • Use keywords only relevant to content on your site. If your keywords are not relevant, they will be ineffective.
  • You can always make your website relevant to common keywords by creating content (blog posts, PDF’s, unique landing pages).

Ad Groups: contains one or more ads which target a shared set of keywords

  • Each Ad within an Ad Group consists of 3 lines of text with 25, 35, and 35 characters respectively
  • Use ad groups to organize your ads by a common theme
  • The best way to do this is to separate ad groups into the different product or service types you offer
  • The ads contained in an ad group target a shared set of keywords
  • For every Ad Group, it is best to create three individual variations and then let the data decide which is best

A Campaign: a compilation of organized Ad groups targeted at specific categories,    products or services that you offer

  • Each of your campaigns is made up of one or more ad groups
  • A set of ad groups that share a budget, location, targeting and other settings
  • Your AdWords account can have one, or many campaigns running
  • You can create separate targeted ad campaigns to run ads in different locations or using different budgets


  • Program enrollees get a daily budget total of $329 for all of their campaigns combined
  • The money does not roll over from day-to-day
  • The maximum cost per click (CPC) for a keyword is $2.00 for nonprofits
  • The higher the organization chooses to bid on a CPC keyword, the more the ad is seen.

Cost-Per-Click: a bid that you set to determine the highest amount that you’re willing to pay for a click on your ad

  • You set a bid, or price to be used when an ad group’s keywords trigger an ad to appear
  • The maximum CPC bid is $2
  • A higher bid generally helps your ad show in a higher ad position on the page
  • You can also set prices for individual keywords within the ad group
  • If you are getting lots of clicks on a keyword, lower the CPC for that keyword and reallocate those funds to less popular keywords.

How to create effective campaigns:

  • Always keep 3 ads running
    • revisit the ads after each month and delete the worst performing ones
  • Let your web content drive traffic, not the campaign
    • The key to optimizing a Google AdWords account is to find the correct balance between what people are searching, the content the organization’s website has and what amount the organization is bidding on keywords.
    • Try to create content based on data from the AdWords program, as this can greatly increase your Ad Rank.
    • The landing page is the webpage where people end up after they click your ad
    • Never send people right to your homepage, instead send them to a specific page on your website
    • For each ad, you specify a final URL to determine the landing page where people are taken when they click your ad
    • The experience of a landing page is represented by such things as usefulness and relevance of information provided on the page, ease of navigation for the user and how many links are on the page
  • Email Sign – Up Strategy
    • Most visitors to organizations’ websites are first time visitors
    • If they are looking for content on your website, ask them to pay a low price for it: their email
    • You can then use this database of emails to create a targeted, direct campaign with increasingly greater asks until eventually you cultivate donors. for example:
      • first email upon signing up: Thank you for joining our like
      • 2nd email: We noticed you liked our content on x topic, are you interested in learning more about x? click here
      • 3rd email: have you heard about our latest call to action?
      • 4th email: donate to support our cause!
    • An additional way to increase engagement is to create a “Thank You” page after someone signs up for your newsletter with links to social media accounts
    • This tactic will increase conversions as well
  • Monitor and analyze the Data
    • Monitor your AdWords account monthly. Focus on keywords, landing pages and individual ad performance.
    • How to determine an adds efficacy:
      • Ad Rank is determined by the overall amount bid on CPC keywords and the campaign’s Quality Score.
      • The Click Through Rate is determined by the percentage of people who click on your ad, as a percentage of people who see it.
        • A successful Click Through Rate is anything over 1.
      • The Quality Score is determined by a number of factors including Click Through Rate, landing page quality, relevance of ad copy and historical performance.
        • An campaign’s quality score is a number on a scale of 1-10. A good Quality Score is anything over a 6.
        • One should pause any ads scoring below that threshold.
        • When calculating Quality Score, Google ensures the ad is relevant to the website’s content, that it links to a content-rich landing page and that it has performed well in the past.
        • Therefore, an organization should modify its content, adding relevant information, by using analytics and data to determine the search volume of content already on your website.

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