How not to lose your Google Ad Grants

Anne Baum

Anne Baum

Director of Marketing Services

Google generously gives each qualified nonprofit up to $120,000 annually in Ad Grants. It’s essentially $10,000 a month in free advertising for Google AdWords ads that 501(c)(3) nonprofits can take advantage of—and 35,000 nonprofits currently do.

At the start of 2018, Google cracked down on organizations that were getting the grants, but not using them or not using them properly. As a result, many nonprofits are now finding their accounts suspended. If this has happened to you, here’s an action plan to implement immediately.

1. Find out if you’re compliant

Some organizations have looked at AdWords ads as set-it-and-forget-it campaigns. They’re not. Nonprofits that aren’t managing their Ad Grants well and aren’t paying attention may already have their account suspended and not even know it.

2. Turn off your unsuccessful campaigns

Pause anything you’re running that’s not compliant and then work on fixing it. Instead of taking the time to try to rebuild everything, keep your successful campaigns running while rebuilding the rest.

3. Make sure you’re following best practices

Google’s new rule of maintaining at least a 5% clickthrough rate is not difficult to achieve, if you follow these best practices: structure your campaign properly, use correct geo-targeting, bid on keywords relevant to your website and nonprofit, and create clear, concise ads. As an example, we’ve helped clients average a click-through rate of 10%.  Additional tips are available in the Google Ad Grant Advertiser Community

4. Get serious about your program

For each nonprofit, an Ad Grant is $120,000 annually in free AdWords advertising. It’s a worthwhile investment to find the resources to train staff in Google AdWords and Google Analytics, as well as learn the ropes of bidding, increasing spend, and management of your program. Google has some useful resources to get you started.

5. Get help

If you don’t feel comfortable managing your Ad Grants program internally, find a certified Google Partner who can help you do that. Nonprofits that manage their Ad Grants programs internally are spending $300 on average, which means that they lose nearly $100K. Make sure that you have the expertise to manage your program, even if you need to find a partner to help you.

I’m sure some nonprofits are reluctant to hire a Google Partner. However, as our clients can testify: whatever you spend, you definitely get back. As a certified Google Partner, we’ve helped our nonprofit clients turn failing programs around. When we take on a program, nonprofits see better cost-effective bidding and an increased overall spend of their AdWords budget. This has led to more awareness of missions, better participant recruitment for peer-to-peer events and more donation dollars. Also, when you trust your Ad Grant to a professional, you free up all those staff hours that were required to maintain the program internally.

Nonprofits shouldn’t look at any of these changes as negative. Ultimately they’ll lead to better success of every nonprofit’s Ad Grant program. Google really is trying to work with nonprofits to make their Ad Grant spend more successful, so they can take full advantage of the program.


See how CMN Hospitals turned their Ad Grant programs around with DonorDrive 

Want to learn more about how we’re helping DonorDrive clients get the most out of their Ad Grants? Let’s talk.

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