Are you looking to drive traffic to your nonprofit’s landing pages without breaking the bank? The Google Ad Grant program will help you do exactly that! After completing the Google Grant application process, you’ll receive $10,000 every month to spend on Google Ads.
Whether you’re an advocacy organization looking to boost petition signatures or an animal shelter aiming to increase volunteer signups, Google Grants can empower your nonprofit to broaden its reach, enhance its search visibility, and drive conversions at exponential rates. As long as you meet all of the Google Grant requirements and follow the proper steps, you’ll get your application approved in no time.
In this guide, we’ll dive into the basics and steps of how to apply for Google Grants! Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Google Grant Application FAQs
- 5 Steps to Apply for Google Grants
- What to Do When Your Google Grant Application Gets Approved
- How an Expert Can Help You Apply for Google Grants
At Getting Attention, we devote our time to helping nonprofits make the most of the Google Ad Grants program. We know exactly how to apply for Google Grants and get approved on the first try. Let’s start our journey by answering some of the most common questions that nonprofits have about the program.
Google Grant Application FAQs
Before diving into the required steps for applying for Google Grants, let’s run through a few of the most common questions that nonprofit professionals have when they first start looking into the program.
What is the Google Grant?
The Google Ad Grants program enables nonprofits to acquire valuable search engine ad space at no cost. The grant supplies eligible organizations with $10,000 in Google Ad credits every month to put toward driving traffic to their websites’ most important content.
Since Google generates more than 80% of desktop search traffic in the United States alone, this program has the potential to boost your nonprofit’s visibility and generate more support for your cause. All you have to do is follow the required Google Grant application process and get approved.
Google Grants can benefit nonprofits in a variety of ways, including:
- Increasing conversion rates
- Attracting new donors, volunteers, and other prospects
- Engaging and strengthening relationships with existing donors
- Marketing multiple ad campaigns simultaneously
- Analyzing and tracking campaign performance
- Learning the needs of online supporters and how they prefer to engage
Action Against Hunger is one of many nonprofits that have benefited from the program, driving 158,000 visitors to its website and raising over $66,000 in just 12 months thanks to Ad Grants. However, the Google Grant has several specific guidelines that determine an organization’s eligibility to participate in the program.
How do I get a Google Grant?
There is a pretty lengthy Google Grant application process that your nonprofit must follow, from verifying eligibility to creating relevant accounts to producing your first ad campaign.
The goal is to confirm that you’re a trustworthy nonprofit that will benefit from the program and promote content users will find valuable. To save time and ensure that your application gets approved the first time around, consider outsourcing the work to Google Grant experts like Getting Attention.
How long will it take to apply for Google Grants?
The actual Google Grants application itself doesn’t take long to fill out or get approved. However, you’ll need to complete some pre-qualifying steps that may take some time.
For instance, if you’re already registered with TechSoup and are a member of Google for Nonprofits, the Google Grant application process will likely take anywhere from 2 to 14 days.
If you’re not, you must first get verified by TechSoup, which can take anywhere from 2 to 14 business days on its own. In some cases, it can even take up to 30 business days. Then, you’ll need to activate your Google for Nonprofits account before filling out the application.
5 Steps to Apply for Google Grants
To set you up for success, let’s explore each step in the Google Grants application process in more detail:
1. Check your Google Grants eligibility status.
To qualify for a Google Ad Grant, your organization must meet several criteria. Check your eligibility upfront to ensure that the time and effort you invest in the application process pay off.
Given that the program is available in over 50 countries, be sure to locate the specific guidelines of your current location. In the United States, the following is required to be eligible:
- A current and valid charitable status, which in the United States means registering as a 501(c)(3) organization with the IRS.
- A functional website containing valuable content that is relevant to the nonprofit’s mission.
- Adherence to Google Grant program policies, including registration with Google for Nonprofits and TechSoup.
- An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate, indicating that your online domain is secure.
Outside of these eligibility requirements, there are specific types of nonprofits that are ineligible, regardless if they meet the above requirements. These include:
- Government entities and organizations
- Hospital and healthcare organizations, though nonprofits working in the healthcare space (such as breast cancer research or Alzheimer’s awareness organizations) are still eligible
- Schools, academic institutions, and universities, though philanthropic arms of educational institutions still qualify
If your organization falls within one of these ineligible categories, consider conducting further research into similar initiatives that do apply to your nonprofit. For example, Google for Education offers separate benefits for educational institutions.
However, if your organization does not fall into one of the above categories, you’re free to apply for the Google Ad Grant! For example, if your church is looking to reach out to the community for more congregation members, consider applying for this program.
Additional Google Grant application requirements
Once you’ve evaluated your initial eligibility, you’re almost ready to start moving through the Google Grant application process. However, there are a few more requirements you should meet before you officially get started.
Some of the most important Google Ad Grant requirements include:
- Having a fully-functional website to which the ads placed on the Google results page will link.
- Ensuring your site does not already contain revenue-generating ads, such as Google AdSense.
- Having the ability to manage Google Ads campaigns, meaning you’re able to evaluate keywords for relevancy, accuracy, and timeliness on a regular basis.
Doing as much preparation as you can upfront will help you move through the actual application much quicker.
2. Register your nonprofit with TechSoup.
The next step to apply for Google Grants requires validating your organization via TechSoup. TechSoup is a nonprofit organization that partners with companies to bring mission-driven technology and resources to nonprofits for free or at discounted rates.
Follow these steps to register your nonprofit with TechSoup:
- Navigate to the TechSoup registration page.
- Select the country in which your organization is based and choose your preferred language.
- Click ‘New Member,’ select ‘Register,’ and agree to the terms and conditions listed. From there, you wait to receive validation. If there are any issues, TechSoup may contact you for further documentation or information.
- After receiving validation, you can log into your account to claim your TechSoup Validation Token, which is presented as a code. It should look something like this: 123c4567@YourOrgName. Input this code in your Google for Nonprofits application, and you’re good to go! Be aware that this token expires after 60 days.
Beyond fulfilling a requirement for your Google Grant application, registering with TechSoup gives you access to donated or discounted software from other philanthropic businesses. Other tech giants that participate in TechSoup’s tech marketplace include Microsoft, Adobe, Zoom, HubSpot, and many more!
If you’re already registered with TechSoup, you can skip this step and pull existing information to verify your nonprofit’s legitimacy with Google right away. You’ll just need to determine who at your organization is the Administrator of your TechSoup account. They’ll receive an email requesting the necessary information to verify your nonprofit’s status when setting up your Google for Nonprofits account.
3. Create a Google for Nonprofits account.
Once you’re verified by TechSoup, the next step is to register for a Google for Nonprofits account. Beyond Ad Grants, Google for Nonprofits offers an array of advantages for growing awareness for your mission. Some of the most useful perks you’ll receive include:
- The YouTube Nonprofit Program, which empowers nonprofits to spread the word about their organization through visual storytelling. Using videos as a method for telling your nonprofit’s story will inspire empathy for your cause, form connections within your community, educate mass audiences, and much more.
- Google Earth and Maps, which helps share compelling data visualizations and highlight your organization’s impact.
- Google Workspace, which offers complimentary access to Google’s most useful apps, such as Gmail, Docs, Drive, Calendar, and Meet.
If this seems like an offer you can’t refuse, follow these steps to successfully apply for a Google for Nonprofits account:
- Visit the Google for Nonprofits registration page.
- Agree to Google’s non-discrimination statements.
- Input the validation token provided through TechSoup.
- Fill out the subsequent forms, including contact and organization information.
- Submit your request and await a response!
Make sure you’re signed in with an email address that you check frequently when you create your Google for Nonprofits account. Whatever address you use is where Google will send updates about your account, which also include any outreach about your Google Ad Grants account once you get it up and running.
4. Prepare your website for your Google Grant application.
When you apply for Google Grants, they’ll require you to submit your website, then they’ll evaluate it to ensure you have useful content that users will find trustworthy.
Google will run through a checklist of conditions regarding the quality of your website before approving your application. Beyond getting your Google Grant application approved, improving your nonprofit’s website will help you develop much more valuable ads that users will actually interact with.
Let’s explore a few website optimization tips that will maximize your application chances.
Include your EIN and mission statement
Google requires you to have a clear description of your organization, its mission, and its activities on your site. Doing so is not only crucial for getting your Google Grant application approved, but it also improves your credibility with website visitors and helps them determine whether their values align with your work.
While Google doesn’t require you to display your EIN (in the case of U.S.-based nonprofits), doing so doesn’t pose any security threats. It simply shows that you’re a registered 501(c)(3) organization to anyone who might be considering donating, volunteering, registering for an event, or sharing any sensitive information with your team.
You can display your EIN by including it in your website’s footer, so it will automatically show up on every page of your site without interfering with your website’s design.
Implement the proper security measures for your website
To meet the Google Grant requirements, your nonprofit’s website needs to be secure and trustworthy. The main way to do this is by securing an SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate. This encrypts any data that’s transferred on your site, so if someone’s donating, their payment details, name, address, and any other sensitive information they share will automatically be encrypted.
You can check whether a website is encrypted by looking at the URL. If the web address begins with https instead of http, that indicates that it’s SSL-certified. Google Chrome will even mark sites that don’t have an SSL certificate as ‘Not Secure’ in the address bar. Not having an SSL certificate is a quick way to turn visitors away from your website, since they’ll automatically consider your site to be untrustworthy.
Additionally, having an SSL certificate is an effective way to improve your organic traffic. According to Google’s Transparency Report, Google Chrome users on Windows, Android, and Mac all spend over 90% of their browsing time on HTTPs sites. Google, among other search engines, uses SSL certification as a ranking factor. Not having an SSL certificate can actually hurt your rankings!
To obtain an SSL certificate, Hubspot recommends that you verify your website’s information through ICANN Lookup, generate the Certificate Signing Request (CSR), validate your domain by submitting your CSR to the Certificate Authority, and install the certificate on your website.
Optimize your site
Overall, your website should be visually attractive, easy to navigate, and filled with valuable content. To optimize your website and maximize your Google Ads conversions, focus on these primary areas:
- Landing pages. Your landing pages are the most common pages you’ll promote via Google Ads. This might include your donation form, volunteer signup page, or event registration page. Since you’re driving traffic to these pages, you want to optimize them to inspire users to actually fill them out.
- Load times. 40% of users will abandon your site if it takes more than three seconds to load. You can quicken your load time by compressing your images, reducing the use of third-party plugins, and minimizing the amount of unnecessary code on your site.
- Navigation. Keep visitors on your site by only putting your most important pages in your navigation menu and consider including a search feature for all other content.
- Branding. If a user clicks a link and thinks they’ve somehow ended up on another site, that can come across as untrustworthy. Make sure every page on your site aligns with your nonprofit’s brand by including your official colors, logo, and voice.
Is your nonprofit’s website ready for your Google Grants application? Download our Google Grants website checklist to find out.
Professional help is the most reliable resource for making the most of your site through Google Ad Grants. A Google Grants agency like Getting Attention will ensure that your website is up to par and optimized for the user experience.
5. Submit your Google Grant application.
Once your Google for Nonprofits account is approved, you’ll receive an email from Google, and you can finally apply for Google Grants! You can find the most up-to-date activation steps in your Google for Nonprofits account. Here’s what the process currently looks like:
- Log into your Google for Nonprofits account. Within your account, click ‘Products’ and then ‘Get Started’ under Google Ad Grants.
- Click the eligibility form link. This will prompt you to fill out an assessment with basic information such as your nonprofit’s official name, website URL, and details regarding your goals with the program. This should only take around 20 minutes.
- Return to the Google for Nonprofits homepage. Click the checkbox to verify you’ve completed the form. Then, hit ‘Activate’ to submit your organization for review by the Google Ad Grants team. Normally, they’ll review your application within a few business days.
- Accept the invitation. Once you’ve been approved, accept the email invitation from the Google Ad Grants team. You’ll also need to accept the billing profile, which you’ll receive in a separate email. From here, you can start running your Google Ad campaigns and will automatically receive $329 in ad credits per day so long as you maintain compliance with the program’s rules.
At this point, you’re all ready to start creating your campaigns, spreading your message, and connecting with new prospects online.
Advice for completing your Google Grant application
If you’re eligible and follow the provided steps, you’ll more than likely get approved. Even if your application is denied the first time around, Google’s team will provide you with a reason why so you’ll have clear next steps on how to get approved.
Some best practices for maximizing your chances of success include:
- Not entering any credit card information, even if prompted to do so. If you receive any emails or any pop-ups requesting payment details, don’t provide any. There will likely be a red bar at the top of your Google Grant Application, but you should ignore it. Sharing billing information means you’ll be setting up a paid standard account, not a Google Grants account.
- Noting your customer ID number within your Google Ad Grant account. You can find this in the top right corner of the page, written in this format: XXX-XXX-XXXX.
- Putting thought behind the eligibility form questions. Some questions have a straightforward answer (such as your nonprofit’s website URL). However, the form also asks questions that will impact your Google Grant experience, such as how you’d like to learn more about the program. Think through what will be most useful for your organization so the Google Grants team can tailor the program to your preferences.
If you’re still confused about the process or you simply don’t have enough time in your day to apply, we fully recommend reaching out to a professional Google Grants agency. Our team is happy to chat about your needs and handle the entire Google Grant application process for you!
What to Do When Your Google Grant Application Gets Approved
Learning how to apply for Google Grants was the easy part! Now you have to create highly targeted campaigns and ensure you’re meeting the program’s compliance requirements.
While your best bet for success is to outsource account management to a Google Grants agency, here are the immediate next steps your team should take after getting approved:
Configure your Google Ads account
To start leveraging your grant money, you must set up your first few campaigns. Within Google Ads, you’ll find the Campaigns tab on the navigation bar to the left.
Keep these tips in mind to configure a well-organized account:
- Follow the required account structure. Within each of your campaigns, you should have at least two ad groups. Within each ad group, you should have at least two active ads.
- Do plenty of keyword research. To choose ideal keywords for your campaigns, pinpoint search queries that receive a decent bit of monthly traffic and relate to your mission. Google even has a keyword quality score tool that will check the expected CTR, ad relevance, and landing page experience for your different campaigns.
- Enable Sitelink Extensions. These will allow you to link to specific parts of your website below your ads. This gives users additional options to click and interact with your cause. Typically, these include other pages relevant to the ad, like donation or volunteer signup pages. To enable this, click the Ads & Extensions tab in your Google Ads page menu on the left.
If you’re interested in learning more about setting up high-performing campaigns, check out our ultimate guide to optimizing your Google Grant account. In it, we dive into account management tips and requirements that will help you connect with your audience.
Meet Google Grants compliance requirements
To ensure your account remains in good standing with the program’s rules, keep an eye on these essential components:
- Account activity. Log into your account at least once a month and update it every 90 days to prove to Google that you’re still using the grant funding.
- Ad relevance and geotargeting. Be sure that your ads have specific relevance to their audience. You can do this by including geotargeting, so Google knows their users are receiving ads relevant to them.
- Monthly keyword evaluation. Google requires a Keyword Performance Report once a month to ensure that you are optimizing your keywords for the best results.
- A minimum of 5% click-through rate (CTR). You must have at least a 5% CTR, starting at 90 days post-approval. This ensures that your ads are actually useful to users and relevant to their search intent. Accounts that fail to meet this requirement will be notified, and if they fail to meet a 5% CTR for two consecutive months, those accounts will be suspended.
Google implements these requirements to ensure that you’re actually generating value from the program. Failing to meet these compliance requirements will result in account deactivation, so keep an eye on your account and continue optimizing your ads over time!
How an Expert Can Help You Apply for Google Grants
To see meaningful results from this marketing grant, you need consistent upkeep, performance tracking, and compliance with Google’s official account requirements. With the weight of running a nonprofit already on your shoulders, this may seem like a lot to handle. Have no fear—that’s why Google Grant agencies exist.
From application to account management, Google Grant agencies like Getting Attention will ensure your success every step of the way. Some valuable areas of assistance include:
- Applying for Google Grants. Our agency will check your eligibility, help you get registered with TechSoup and Google for Nonprofits, and fill out your Google Grant application. There’s no need for you to even understand how to apply for Google Grants beforehand since we’ll walk you through the entire process!
- Creating, maintaining, and optimizing ad campaigns. Since you need three to five ongoing campaigns to generate real results, our professionals will continuously track their performance and refine strategies to improve your results over time.
- Optimizing website content. Google Grant agencies like ours can help keep your website in the best shape via continual keyword research, landing page relaunches, and more.
- Maintaining account upkeep. To avoid grant suspension due to poor account maintenance, we can help make sure your organization is in constant compliance with Google Grant guidelines. This way, you’ll never have to worry about going through the account reactivation process.
If you’re curious about the role that an agency will play in Google Grants management, our team is happy to chat! Reach out to our team to discuss how we can support all your Google Grants needs, from applying to the program to researching the best keywords for your cause.
Final Thoughts on Applying for Google Grants
The Google Grants program is a wonderful opportunity for any nonprofit looking to amplify its digital marketing strategies. All you need to do is learn how to apply for Google Grants and then configure your Google Ads account according to your goals.
All of this information may feel a bit overwhelming, but the opportunity to utilize $10,000 a month of free Google Ads spending is worth weathering the confusion. Contact us today for a free consultation with our agency to help plan the best Google Ad Grants strategy for your nonprofit.
In the meantime, learn more about the program and maximize the success of your ad campaigns with these great resources:
- Google Grant Agency: Picking the Best Partner & 10 Firms This article will help you find the right Google Grants agency for your organization. We even provide our top 10 recommendations!
- Nonprofit Marketing Plan: 8 Key Steps (+ Free Templates!) If you’re feeling lost on how to develop an effective marketing plan for your nonprofit, have no fear! This article will outline everything you need to develop a full-proof plan and provide free templates to support your process.
- Nonprofit Basics: The Google for Nonprofits Program. Ready to take advantage of all the Google tools available to nonprofits? Learn more about the Google for Nonprofits Program in this guide.