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4 Things Your Board Should Know About the Google Grant

This post was contributed by Nonprofit Megaphone.

Maybe you’ve had this experience: you present your comprehensive digital marketing plan to the board, which now includes the Google Ad Grant, only to have board members start questioning your decision.

They’re skeptical (there must be a catch) and even express concern that you may be gullible. That leads to the board questioning the credibility of your entire plan and expressing a desire to scrutinize every part of your plan. The good news is that educating your board about the basics of the Google Ad Grant can eliminate that kind of scenario and restore complete confidence in your decision.

The Google Ad Grant is one of the most valuable (and sometimes overlooked) digital marketing tools available to nonprofit organizations. It enables nonprofits to share their mission with their target market, recruit volunteers, and attract new donors. The Google Ad Grant program provides more than 20,000 qualified nonprofit organizations worldwide with in-kind ads on Google valued at $10,000 per month, every month.

Sharing the following information with your board will help them understand the process and the value of the program:

  • It isn’t as difficult to acquire as you think
  • It can be a tool to help you reach your fundraising goals
  • It can be a useful component in a larger digital marketing strategy
  • It requires ongoing attention to work effectively

While the Google Ad Grant is unlikely to be a board responsibility, ensuring that they understand what’s necessary to acquire and manage the Google Ad Grant and the value it can deliver to advance your organization’s mission will pave the way for any associated costs that need to be allocated to obtain and manage the Google Ad Grant.

1. The Google Grant isn’t as difficult to acquire as you think.

If you’re like most nonprofit organizations, fundraising and grant opportunities are probably a frequent agenda topic at board meetings. The Google Ad Grant fits into all those categories and should be part of those conversations. Educating your board about the program is well worth your time.

If your organization is based in one of the more than 50 countries that offer the Google Ad Grant, determining your eligibility and applying for the Google Ad Grant can be accomplished in a few simple steps:

  1. Step 1: The process begins by applying to Google for Nonprofits. Your organization must hold valid charity status in your country (as explained at the site). Understanding the criteria for eligibility is clearly explained, resolving any doubt. For example, governmental entities and organizations, hospitals and medical groups, schools, academic institutions, and universities are not eligible for Google for Nonprofits; however, philanthropic arms of educational institutions are eligible.
  2. Step 2: Eligibility stipulates that participating organizations acknowledge and agree to Google required certifications regarding nondiscrimination and donation receipt and use.
  3. Step 3: To be qualified, organizations must have a high-quality website that meets the Ad Grants website policy. This may be particularly important for your board to understand, as it may require funding to create a new website or to upgrade your website to comply with the policy. It’s an investment that can have a big payoff.
  4. Step 4: The final step is to get approved through the Ad Grants pre-qualification process after your organization is enrolled in Google for Nonprofits.

2. The Google Ad Grant can be a tool to help you reach your fundraising goals.

Creating awareness and educating people about your organization and its mission is a worthy goal, but let’s be honest; what you (and your board) really want are donors. The financial support of donors is essential to bring the mission of your organization to life. Since one of the core responsibilities of the board is fiduciary accountability, it makes sense that they understand how the Google Ad Grant can help your organization accomplish its financial goals.

It may help your board understand the Google Ad Grant if they think of it as a loyal sustaining donor. It provides a monthly, in-kind contribution, valued at up to $10,000 in advertising, which gives your organization more opportunity to share its mission with more people. It’s a simple equation: advertising to a larger audience increases your chances of gaining more donors.

But the value of loyal donors expands beyond their annual or monthly monetary value. Steadfast donors also serve as disciples for your cause, promoting it to their friends and associates and enticing them to support you.

3. The Google Ad Grant can be a useful component in a larger digital marketing strategy.

There are several key ways a Google Ad Grant can play into your nonprofit’s marketing plan. Some organizations create a whole strategy just for their ad grant, but it can also be woven into your organization’s digital marketing strategy.

The most successful digital marketing strategies use a multi-channel, multi-platform approach. That is, combining several digital spaces where potential supporters can be found (email, search, social media, mobile/GPS tracking) in addition to traditional marketing channels (print, direct mail, and broadcast). A multi-channel, multi-platform strategy eliminates channel marketing silos to accommodate an ever-growing digital space.

The basic idea is to meet potential supporters where they are. This seamless marketing approach across various channels increases the likelihood that supporters will see your message and provide more opportunities for individuals to give to your cause. It guides potential customers toward engagement and moves them through the conversion funnel.

The key to a successful multichannel marketing plan is integration. If your organization has established a digital marketing plan, it should not be used in isolation but used to inform the multichannel marketing planning process.

Like any marketing effort, Google Ad Grants will provide better results when a plan is in place. The goal should not be to spend all of the money, but rather to spend it wisely to reach your organization’s goals. Collaborating with Google Ad Grant professionals can help you incorporate the grant into your digital marketing plan and make the most of the opportunity. Working Google Ad Grants into your strategy ensures that the grant is going toward key goals and making the most significant possible impact.

Google ads run on Google’s search engine, so your target audience will most often be people who are unfamiliar with your organization and searching for keywords related to it. Because of that, it’s a fantastic way to expand your audience. The Google Ad Grant can help move several goals for your nonprofit forward:

  1. Spread Awareness: This is where the Google Ad Grant shines. Within your digital marketing plan, your Ad Grant is an ideal channel to accomplish this goal. You’ll be able to attract new visitors to your website at the exact moment they look (search) for you or a topic related to your cause.
  2. Boost Volunteers: You can run ads for your entire volunteer program or even for specific volunteer opportunities by creating an ad group for volunteers to catch all those searching for new opportunities in your community.
  3. Membership Goals: If your nonprofit offers membership, Google Ad Grants is an excellent way to attract new members. An ad group focused on highlighting the benefits of membership for those who would be a good fit can send traffic to a page that highlights membership benefits, testimonials from members, and a form to sign up.
  4. Increase Donations: This goal requires a strategic plan using keywords. For example, very few people search for “nonprofit donation” and choose to give to an organization based on that search. Keywords like “how to support [your cause]” or “give to [your organization]” are a much better bet.
    Rather than using ads to specifically ask for donations, capturing potential donors through search terms around your causes and then convincing them to give once they’re on your website is a much more common route. Google Ads can play a complementary role in your online fundraising plan.
  5. Individual Campaign Strategies: Whether it’s an annual gala, year-end fundraising, or awareness campaign, Google Ads could play a role. An ad group that runs during the campaign can add new blood.

4. The Google Ad Grant requires ongoing attention to work effectively.

Google is continuously evolving to offer a better user experience. That means that the rules and regulations for Google Ad Grants are subject to change, so while acquiring the Google Ad Grant is relatively simple, it’s not a one-and-done deal. If you want to optimize the Google Ad Grant and remain compliant to avoid suspension, you must commit to managing your account regularly.

For example, the required website standards may change. A recent requirement enacted for compliance is that your website is responsive and mobile-friendly. Why? Because 63 percent of Google’s US organic search traffic originated from mobile devices. Google Search penalizes sites that aren’t mobile-friendly. Test your mobile-friendliness to make sure you are. And that’s just one of the many areas that need to be considered.

One option employed by many board committees, such as the fundraising or communications and public relations committee, is to work with a Google Grant management service to help your organization maximize the Google Ad Grant. They employ professionals who are in constant contact with Google, are well-versed in compliance and can leverage their experience to ensure you consistently capitalize on the Google Ad Grant benefits.

Wrapping Up

The Google Ad Grant can be a valuable marketing tool that enables your organization to expand its reach to fulfill its mission. Imagine a donor who provides you with a monthly in-kind contribution valued at $10,000 each month, or $120,000. What’s not to like?

Sharing your knowledge about Google Ad Grant’s value and its place within your digital marketing strategy will ensure your board’s support.


Grant Hansel from Nonprofit Megaphone wrote this post on Google Grant management for nonprofits. Author: Grant Hensel

Grant Hensel is the CEO of Nonprofit Megaphone, an agency focused 100% on Google Grant Management for nonprofits. NPM is honored to manage the Google Grant for 370+ leading nonprofits worldwide and to be an inaugural member of the Google Ad Grant Certified Professionals community.

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