Google Ad Grants – A helping hand for Charities

For me, search engine marketing is the Holy Grail of advertising. More traditional means of promotion, leaflets, free magazines etc., are often perceived as a nuisance by the very audience it attempts to captivate (I personally cannot stand leaflets through my door every day!). However, search engine marketing targets only ‘engaged’ users. Users who are actively looking for that particular product or service – at the very time they are looking for that product or service. It ultimately enhances their online search experience.

Google is by far the most prominent, and dominant, search engine provider on the internet, covering over 88.8%* of the UK market and it is also the largest search engine provider in most areas of the world. If you are thinking of advertising, advertising online via the Google Search Network is a must!

*Source – Experian Hitsise


Google Ad Grants is good news for charity organisations

For charity organisations, Google is offering a free helping hand. Not only is the Google Ad Grant the lowest of hanging fruit, but for most organisations it is also the juiciest; quite simply the potential ROI benefits are huge.

“Google Ad Grantees receive free AdWords advertising on Google search results pages. Ad Grantees build and manage their own AdWords accounts similar to paying advertisers, but participate with [certain] restrictions” – Google

Google are offering ongoing grants of $10,000 USD (roughly £5,890) per month for PPC (pay-per-click) advertising on their search engine. The grant is available to any charity that fits Google’s Grant criteria, regardless of size and for most people looking to promote a charity, it represents the quickest and easiest (and potentially most cost effective) means to do so. These grants are offered in USD only, so the exchange rate into your local currency may affect the month-on-month value of the grant received.

Organisations must go through an on-line application process to qualify for the grant. Requirements differ slightly by country, a full list of eligible countries and their Google grants application process can be found here.

For the purpose of this blog post I am going to advise on the eligibility criteria for UK organisations.


To be eligible for the Google Ad Grants programme, organisations must:

  • Hold current and valid charity status, as determined by your country; please see your country’s charity status definition below.
  • Acknowledge and agree to the application’s required certifications regarding nondiscrimination and donation receipt and use.
  • Have a functioning website with substantial content

Please note that the following organisations are not eligible for Google Ad Grants:

  • Governmental entities and organisations
  • Hospitals and medical groups
  • Schools, childcare centres, academic institutions and universities (philanthropic arms of educational organisations are eligible). To learn more about Google’s programmes for educational institutions, visit Google in Education.

To maintain eligibility in the Google Ad Grants programme:

  • A daily budget set to $329 USD, or the equivalent of $10,000 (per month)
  • A maximum CPC limit of $2.00 USD
  • Your ads must ONLY link to the ONE non-profit website URL that was approved in the application.
  • You are required to actively manage the AdWords account by logging in monthly. Should you not log in to your account for 30 days, your account will be subject to pausing without notification.
  • Your ads must reflect the mission of the approved non-profit organisation and your keywords must be relevant to the non-profit’s programmes and services.
  • Strictly commercial advertising is not allowed through this programme. If you intend to promote products or services, 100% of the sales and/or proceeds must support your programme.
  • Your Google ads cannot link to pages that are primarily links to other websites.
  • Ads offering financial products (such as mortgages or credit cards) or those requesting car, boat or property donations and related keywords are not allowed.
  • Your website cannot display Google AdSense ads or affiliate advertising links while participating in Google Ad Grants.


Google Grants Benefits

Why you need an account manager in place

Although you can run your Google Ad Grants account internally, I would certainly recommend employing the specialist skills of a PPC advertising agency. Raising the profile of your organisation via Ad Grants requires strategy, planning and expertise – and that’s where a PPC ad agency comes into play. The ad agency would ultimately be responsible for the continued optimisation of the account to increase ROI, but also to ensure the Ad Grant restrictions are adhered to ensuring that your Ad Grant is not rescinded.

‘But ad agencies are expensive’ I hear you say. It depends on what you class as ‘expensive’. If the agency provides you with a positive ROI, say 5/1, are they still classed as expensive? Remember, the Ad Grant provides you with $10,000 of FREE advertising per month. Yes, the grants are calculated by Google in $USD but in £GBP this equates to roughly £5,890* – still quite a considerable FREE grant I think you’ll agree.

*Source – Exchange rate via 16/06/2014


An example of a Google Ad Grant scenario

Say you receive $10,000 (£5,890) ad spend each month from Ad Grants for free, the ad agency then turns this free investment into £29,450 in donations for your organisation and charge you £4,417.50 (15% of your return) in the form of a management fee leaving you with £25,032.50. Does this still look an expensive option?

The Ad Agency also has the expertise to provide feedback on how donators navigate your site and ultimately reach the point of donation. This feedback allows you to optimise the site accordingly to potentially increase the conversion rate and ROI even further.

The positive ROI gives you the opportunity to re-invest ‘x’ amount of the income back into advertising. The ability to run an Ad Grants account alongside a Paid AdWords account is possible. However, there are further restrictions in running both accounts side-by-side, the ad agency will have the best-practice knowledge here.

Employing an ad agency also has another huge potential benefit. For charities and organisations that have successfully developed their grant, there is the opportunity to recieve $40,000 grants per month. This is an additional $30,000 per month added to the existing Google Ad Grants account of $10,000 per month, equalling a total of $40,000 per month in free advertising. To qualify, the account needs to have hit its monthly budget cap (at least $9,900) for at least two different months over the last six months (they don’t need to be consecutive months). Although this does take some skill there is no reason why it shouldn’t be reached via an ad agency.

That’s potentially $40,000 worth of free online advertising each month!


Are you utilising Ad Grants at the moment? Or perhaps thinking “why on earth aren’t we!?” I’d love to hear to hear your feedback either way.


Image credit to 5PhotosaDay.

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