Google Ad Grants for Nonprofits: Your Ultimate Guide to Claiming $10,000/m of Free Ad Spend

Did you know that Google offers nonprofits like yours $10,000 per month of free advertising spend to bring new people to your site, get volunteers, and bring in more donations? Lots of nonprofit marketers don’t.

That’s why I wrote this guide. In this guide I’ll show you why you should claim your Google Ad Grant and how to do it (it’s actually very simple, unlike applying to many other grants).

Importance of the Google Ad Grant

First, let’s take a step back. Your marketing team is already short on time and trying to juggle too much. Why should you add one more channel (i.e. Google Ads) to your plate?

Reason #1: $10,000/month of Free Ad Spend

First, the $10,000 per month of free ads is nothing to sneeze at. Google is the most successful advertiser on the planet because their ads work. When I was running Google Ads for corporate clients, we often saw a 10:1 or 20:1 or even 30:1 return on investment. In nonprofits the math is different, but a good Google Ad Grant account should still generate thousands of dollars per month of additional donations. That’s enough to justify the cost of building and optimizing the campaign and maybe even hire another part-time worker to take some of the load off.

Reason #2: Permission Marketing

The reason that Google Ads is so effective brings us to our second reason the Google Ad Grant is important: Google leverages permission marketing. You’re not pushing your brand in front of your audience; you’re letting them come to you.

Let’s say that your nonprofit sponsors children in Haiti. When someone Googles “sponsor children in Haiti,” you can be sure of two things. One: they’re part of your target market. Two: in that moment, they are interested in and looking for what you offer. If you can use Google Ads to get in front of them in that moment, there’s a good chance you can turn an interested user into a donor or volunteer.

Talk about striking when the iron is hot! Google Ads can help you get in front of your target market right when they’re most interested in learning more about you.

I love permission marketing because it’s highly respectful to your target market. You’re not pushing your message into their lives, you’re just giving them exactly what they want when they want it.

Reason #3: Control the User Journey

Google Ads is incredibly powerful because it lets you control the user journey from start to end.

Let’s keep running with our example and say that your nonprofit sponsors children in Haiti. With Google Ads, you can decide which keywords you want your ads to show for (ex. “Sponsor a child in Haiti,” which has 110 searches/month in Google). Then you can decide exactly what message your audience sees when they Google that keyword, via the ad headline/display URL/description. If you want users to see right away that they can sponsor a child for just $1/day, you can make sure they do.

Save the Children, maximizing the value of their Google Ad Grant.

From there, you can decide what page the user will visit once they click on your ads. Want them to see a page with all the adorable Haitian kids who need sponsors? You can make sure they do. Want them to see some text about why sponsorship is important first? You can show them a page about the importance of sponsorship. Want them to see only girls to sponsor, because your keyword is actually, “sponsor a girl in Haiti?” You can do that.

You have complete control of the user journey, including what messages your audience sees and when. That’s powerful.

How to Claim Your Google Ad Grant

Okay, you understand the value of claiming your Google Ad Grant and accessing that $10,000/m of ad spend. So how do you do it?

The instructions are actually pretty simple. Unlike most traditional grants, the Google Ad Grant doesn’t require a long proposal, a list of program goals and objectives, or even an abstract or summary. You don’t need a specialist to apply or get accepted. In fact, the whole application will probably take you under an hour.

Here are the steps:

1) Sign up for a Google For Nonprofits account (instructions here, straight from Google)

2) Register your nonprofit with TechSoup or a local TechSoup partner.

3) Apply for the ad grant (instructions from Google here)

4) Make sure your website meets Google’s requirements

Note on this one: some nonprofits get tripped up because they have commercial activity (ex. A shop where users can buy T-shirts to support the cause). There’s nothing wrong with this, but you’ll need to mention on your site how proceeds from the shop support your mission.

And that’s it!

Conclusion: Building Your Ad Campaign

Of course getting approved for your Google Ad Grant is only the first step. Once you’re approved comes the hard part: actually building out a high-functioning Google Ads campaign with keywords, ads, targeting, landing pages and more to flood your nonprofit’s site with engaged users, new volunteers, and new donors.

If you’d like to handle that in-house, I recommend you read Part 2 of this guide: Optimizing Your Google Ad Grant to Generate A Flood of Traffic, Volunteers, and Donations. You can also reach out to me any time with questions as you go, at, and I’ll answer as I can.

If you don’t have the internal resources or expertise to build out a whole new channel and just want someone to take it off your plate, I’ve worked with Google Ads for over 5 years. I’ve managed dozens of clients and they’ve been pretty thrilled. I can:

  • talk to you about YOUR goals for the account and what you’d like to achieve (be it more monthly donations, more newsletter sign-ups, more one-time donors, or something else)
  • help you claim your Google Ad Grant

build out an ad account (that you’ll approve) to meet your goals, including: writing ads, finding keywords, identifying landing pages, building ad extensions, dialing in targeting (both geographic and demographic) so you’re only reaching the people you want to reach, and more.

My rates start at $1,200 for a full Google Ad Grant account build-out. Once the account’s rolling and bringing in a flood of new donors every month, you’ll never look back.

Feel free to email me, or get in touch here.

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