Google Ad Grants: Nonprofit insights and tips


  • What are Google Ad Grants and which organisations could benefit
  • What key requirements are needed to sign up for Google Ads Grants
  • How Google Ad Grants differ from regular paid search

If you’re a charity or nonprofit organisation, raising awareness about who you are and what you do is a vital part of your mission. But with resources limited, traditional advertising campaigns can be a significant investment that diverts funds from other vital areas.

However, there is an answer to this – Google Ad Grants. This is a section of Google’s search advertising dedicated specifically to the charity sector and allows these organisations to access the firm’s powerful network for free.

Qualifying nonprofits can access up to $10,000 a month (or the local equivalent) worth of free Google ads. In the UK, the figure is £7,000. This allows them to reach out to potential donors and better compete with commercial brands who may also be bidding on relevant search terms.

Who should use Google Ad Grants and why?

Google Ad Grants are available to any charity or nonprofit, but may be especially useful to small organisations that don’t have the same level of resources as their larger counterparts or commercial competitors. Because the programme rewards relevance rather than scale, it should be easy for these organisations to target the right users and stand out from the crowd.

This offering gives businesses access to 8.5 billion Google searches every day. Ads distributed via Google Ad Grants can help charities reach their goals, whether this is attracting more donations, recruiting new volunteers or building awareness.

What is the difference between Google Ad Grants and Google paid ads?

While Google Ad Grants appear in the same search results as paid advertising, there are a few differences and limitations you need to know about. 

One of the first factors to be aware of is that Google Ad Grants are only available for text ads that appear on the Google search network. This means you cannot use the platform for ads that contain images, video or other media content, and ads cannot appear on Google Shopping results or any of the sites that make up the Google Display Network. Grant Ads will also always appear underneath paid ads.

In addition, there are restrictions on how you can spend the allocated budget. Your $10,000 per month is split evenly into daily allowances of $329 and, while you are not required to spend it all, the daily allowance does not roll over, so any unused budget each day is lost. There is also a limit on how much you can bid for each keyword. This is currently $2 (£1.57), though this does not apply to accounts using a conversion-based automated bidding strategy if certain conditions are met.

Finally, Google Ad Grants do not have access to some of the search engine’s most powerful features, such as retargeting and demographic targeting.

It’s important to note that you may run a standard Google Ads account in addition to a Google Ad Grants programme. This ensures that charities still have access to the full range of ad types and targeting features Google provides by using paid ads. However, you do not have to worry about paid and granted ads competing with each other, as Ad Grants are placed in a separate auction.

Applying for Google Ad Grants

In order to be eligible for Google Ad Grants, you will need to meet a few conditions for both your organisation and the website you wish to send traffic to. There are three basic requirements for using this service, which are:

  • Join Google for Nonprofits
  • Be approved through the Ad Grants eligibility form
  • Have a high-quality website that meets the Ad Grants website policy

Ensuring you are compliant with these conditions is an essential first step in getting started with Google Ad Grants.

Requirements for Google Ad Grants

In order to join Google for Nonprofits and therefore be eligible for Google Ad Grants, your organisation must hold valid charity status in your country. In the UK, this means you must be registered with the Charity Commission in England and Wales, OSCR in Scotland, the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland, or be registered with HMRC as a tax exempt charity or church.

The following organisations are not permitted to use Google Ad Grants.

  • Governmental entities or organisations
  • Hospitals or health care organisations (except associated charitable arms or foundations)
  • Schools, universities or other academic institutions (except philanthropic arms of educational organisations) 

If you meet these requirements, you can apply for Google Ad Grants through the eligibility form. Once you’ve filled in the requested details, you should receive a decision in two to 14 working days.

There are also a range of requirements for your website in order to gain approval for Google Ad Grants. These include:

  • You must be the owner of the domain users land on when clicking your ads
  • The website must be of high quality. This includes having unique content, no broken links, HTTPS security, regular updates, clear navigation and fast loading.
  • The site may not have commercial activity or resemble a business or for-profit site
  • It may only contain limited advertising that is relevant to your mission and may not host Google AdSense ads or affiliate advertising links.

Once approved for Google Ad Grants, there are also a few policies and guidelines you need to stick to in order to maintain good standing. For example, there are rules on what keywords you can bid on, minimum clickthrough rates, how you set up ad accounts and how often you engage with the account.

Are Google Ad Grants for charities worth it?

When managed correctly, a Google Ad Grants programme can be a great way for charities to extend their reach and attract high-quality traffic without exhausting their limited budgets. However, getting this right does require both time and expertise.

For instance, it’s essential that organisations are bidding on the right keywords. As Grants ads appear below paid advertising, targeting the most competitive keywords may not always be the best strategy. Therefore, in order to make the most of the opportunities afforded by Google Ad Grants, it may be a good idea to seek advice on Google Ads management from a specialist who can help understand how Google ads work.

Done well, Google Ad Grants give charities and nonprofits a highly useful boost without the need for financial resources. However, firms can’t rely on this alone – it requires work to keep your website in good shape, effective use of data analytics to identify the best keywords and a clear, focused strategy.

Find out more about Axonn’s Google advertising services to learn how the right partner can help with this.

5 Minute Read

By Iain Pemberton | Updated

Iain is a senior member of Axonn’s editorial team and is an expert in tech. He should be; he’s been writing about the topic for more than 14 years.

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