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Online Fundraising Tools You May be Overlooking, Part 3 (Google Tools)

fundraising nonprofit Oct 23, 2019

The first post of this series examined Amazon’s tools for nonprofits, and part 2 examined what Facebook tools are available. Though Google has a few different services available through its Google for Nonprofits program, this post will focus on Google Ad Grants for nonprofits.

Google Ad Grants Overview

Google is definitely a pioneer in the tech space for nonprofits. It’s Google for Nonprofits program unlocks features through YouTube, Google Ads, and more. This article won’t break down all of the facets of Google for Nonprofits, but will focus on the most widely used feature, which is Google Ad Grants. With Ad grants, your organization can up to $10,000 a month in FREE search engine marketing advertising on Google.

What you need to know:

  • To be eligible for Google for Nonprofits, your organization must hold charity status in your country. Government entities, hospitals/medical groups, schools, academic institutions/universities are not eligible.
  • Set up conversion tracking with at least one conversion goal. Google has videos and resources that you have access to that guide you through the set-up. A conversion could be anything like a donation, form completion, phone call, or other website behavior. At least one conversion must occur per month to keep your account active.
  • Your ads must maintain a 5% click-through rate (CTR) each month to stay active. Falling to less than 5% for two consecutive months can result in temporary deactivation of your account. This means you can’t take a “set-it-and-forget-it” approach to manage your account. You need to check on it throughout the month and make adjustments as necessary.
  • You must have at least 2 ads per campaign, 2 ads per ad group, and 2 sitelink ad extensions. Again, Google has plenty of resources to walk you through what this means; however, as an example, if you have a campaign around Donations, then you would need at least 2 different ad groups. Perhaps one ad group focuses on donating toward Program A for your nonprofit and the second ad group focuses on donating to Program B. Each of these ad groups would need 2 different ads. As for the sitelinks, these are characters of text that are highlighted within your text ad (see this for more info on sitelinks: )
  • Ad Grants gains you access only to search engine marketing (SEM) text-based ads from the Google search engine. It doesn’t provide advertising through its search partners or offer any display advertising.
  • The maximum cost-per-click is $2.00. During the heavy giving season of November and December, specific keywords/phrases like “donate to a nonprofit” or “animal care charity donation” can exceed the $2.00 cap; therefore, you may consider a separate Google Ads account during that busy time of year.
  • If your nonprofit uses Google Ads separate from Google Ad Grants, know that Ad Grants ads do not compete with your keyword bids from your Google Ads account. This has been a question that I’ve gotten a lot over the years but was clarified directly from Google that the two ad products (Google Ads vs. Google Ad Grants) don’t compete.
  • You may need help. If you’ve never done SEM ads before and have nobody on staff to help, it may be worth investing in a consultant or agency to help out. This is in my wheelhouse, so feel free to tag me in if you need assistance
  • Most nonprofits I know don’t use the whole $10,000 each month. If you’re a small or local nonprofit, you may not hit the $10,000 a month that Google allocates for you. It’s all based on what keywords you use, how frequently people click on your ads, maybe seasonality, and other factors.
  • Use your Ads Grant for more than just donations. Start with donation ads, but also use Ad Grants for event sign-ups, email acquisition, growing your volunteer base, highlighting different services and more.
  • Depending on how much of the $10,000 your organization uses each month and other factors, your nonprofit may be eligible for more than $10,000 during the year-end giving season.

How to set it up:

  • The first step to unlocking Google Ad Grants and all the other nonprofit features is to apply for Google for Nonprofit program. That can only be done through TechSoup at
  • Google will notify you by email when you are accepted. If you don’t get accepted, try again. I’ve known several nonprofits that were rejected their first time. Keep trying!
  • Once accepted, you’ll need to build out and activate your campaigns. This includes keyword research, setting up conversions, creating campaigns, ad groups, and writing ads, creating sitelink extensions, and a few other steps. It’s certainly more cumbersome to set up and manage than the Amazon and Facebook tools I wrote about in my previous posts. However, for up to $10,000 a month in advertising, it’s well worth it.

Why you should do it:

If a donor were to give you up to $10,000 a month for online advertising would you take it? Of course, you would. Certainly, this isn’t a grant without strings. The strings may be the learning curve it takes to get started, and it will require an ongoing resource to manage your Ad Grants account. The questions are not “should we do it?” It’s more of a question of “who will do it.” Keep in mind that you can have an outside resource help out. Your organization would need to determine how much you’d be willing to invest in that resource, but I’ve seen monthly management for Google Ad Grants range from $1,000-$2,500 a month from different agencies or consultants. So, worst-case scenario, your organization invests $2,500 for up to $10,000 worth of ad service. The bottom line is that people are searching on Google 3.5 BILLION times a day. If you don’t have a strong presence there, then this is an easy way to gain branding exposure and engagement with your nonprofit.

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