If you attended our Box Lunch a few months ago, this is old news. In fact, some of you have already applied and successfully received a grant (way to go!). For the rest of you – you might be asking, what the heck is a Google Ad Grant?
A Google Grant is one part of an entire suite of products and tools that Google offers to qualifying non-profits. The suite is available to 501(c)(3) organizations that are not schools, government agencies, or hospitals (you can review the full eligibility requirements here).
Once you are approved to access the suite, which is so poignantly called Google for Nonprofits, you can then apply for an Ad Grant. The grant gives you $10,000 in free advertising on Google’s search network. $10,000 a month! Not just one month, but all months and into next year’s months too! As long as you maintain your eligibility the grant will roll over year and year. Pretty sweet, huh?
So, what’s the catch?
The grant does come with a few restrictions. For those familiar with Adwords, you know that it’s a pay-per-click system and you “bid” on keywords in competition with other advertisers. The grant allows you to bid up to $2 for each keyword. Other limitations include:
- This is for the search network only; display and retargeting is not an option
- You can only advertise for one domain, and it has to be the website for the registered nonprofit listed in your application.
- You may only use mission-based ads and keywords relevant to your registered nonprofit's services or programs.
Those are the big ones, but you can and should read the entire Ad Grants Guide before you get started. The guide will also walk you through steps on how to apply, but as someone who has gone through this a few times, here are a couple of pro tips.
Make sure your organization’s EIN number is handy before you get started.
Create a Gmail account that will be used for the sole purpose of your Google for Nonprofits application as well as your Ad Grant Application and Adwords account. Do not make it a personal account, as you may need others in your organization to access it at different times. At every step along the way, remain logged in to that account.
Once you are accepted into Google for Nonprofits, and before you can apply for the Ad Grant, you have to set up an Adwords account and create a test campaign. When you are ready to do that, DO NOT go to Google Adwords and create a regular account – you MUST create the account using the link found on page 9 of the guide.
The link provided creates an account that is specific to the grant program and if you create a regular Adwords account then your application will be denied and you’ll have to start over again. That’s not the end of the world – but once you have your email address linked to one account you can’t change it or add another account to that username. So then you would have to make a new username and you’ll end up with more account logins than you need – which none of us want.
- If your organization is already investing in Adwords, the grant does allow you to keep that program running along with your new account – as long as there isn’t an overlap in your keywords. This may require advanced techniques, but it can allow you to remain competitive for terms that may require a bid larger than $2.
How to Set Up a Starter Campaign
I’ll save campaign strategies for another blog post, but I did want to point out a few important settings that you’ll want to have when you start your first campaign.
- When prompted to set your bid strategy, select “manually set bids” as optimizations are not allowed with the grant program.
- Set the currency as USD – but never enter billing information.
- Adwords campaign budgets are set by the day. You can have several campaigns but the grant rules say the total of those daily budgets cannot surpass $329. So you can set your starter campaign to spend $329 a day since it will be the only campaign, but once you add a second campaign you’ll need to divide that by two and then three, etc.
- As I mentioned earlier, you can use Google Search only (not display or search partners) and your keyword bids can be set at $2.
Once you have your starter campaign in place (with at least one ad and a couple of keywords), double check your settings and make sure everything is in place. From there, you can go to the Google for Nonprofits suite and apply for the Ad Grant. The application will ask you for your Adwords account number and a brief description for how you plan on using the grant, so be prepared to provide information on what you’ll be advertising for. If you follow the steps here and provided in the guide, the entire process could take as little as 3 days! If for some reason your application is denied, don't panic – it's likely that one of your settings is off and you can easily adjust and then reapply.
The real fun begins once you are accepted into the program and can start strategizing how to build your account. Ready to get started? Feel free to reach out to us with any questions along the way!