In the past, one of the biggest criticisms of the Google Grants program was how long it took to get a grant. In the past year, I’ve seen the approval time dramatically decrease, sometimes turning around within the week, which is great news for charities thinking about getting a Google Grant. However, after spending time in the Google Grants Help Forum I still see complaints about charities not getting approved for the grant. The truth is, 90% of these problems are self-made and can be avoided. Here are six deadly mistakes that will cause your Google Grant application to fail.
1. Submitting Your Billing Information
Because of the specialized nature of a Google Grants account, you MUST NOT enter your billing information. Once you do, the grants team won’t be able to activate the free credits for that particular account. You will then have to make a new AdWords account (which takes time) and resubmit it for review (which takes more time). I’ve read some complaints about people not being able to progress in their AdWords setup without submitting billing information first. This is simply not true. When you create your first campaign, at the bottom there should be a button that says “Set up billing later” which you should always select.
Always select “Set up billing later”
Avoid pressing that “enter your billing information” link at all costs!
2. Display Network Targeting Included
Similar to entering your billing information, you cannot advertise using the display network. If you do, your account review will 100% be rejected. You then have to make the changes and resubmit it into the queue for review. Like with billing information, this takes time and opens up the possibility for other problems. In fact, this happened to one charity that came to us for help after they were rejected for including display network. Even when we removed it for them and resubmitted, there were problems with activating the account and eventually we had to remake it. In the end their grant went through, but it delayed the process by a couple months.
Go to campaign > settings > networks – unselect search partners, and display network
3. Using Only One Employee/Volunteer Specific Login Email
It’s natural that the employee or volunteer heading the Google Grants application will use their own email as the account login. However, what I’ve seen happen time and time again is confusion when that particular person leaves the organization. The charity doesn’t know how to access their Google Grant anymore, and have to either chase down the previous user or make a special request to Google to change the contact. This is a hassle that will take time to fix, and during that waiting period your grant can’t be improved or changed. What’s especially bad is that in order to keep your Google Grant, you’re expected to login at least once a month. Should you be unable to login for a long period, you will put your grant status at risk.
To mitigate these problems, I recommend using a general email for the organization, i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org – that way if you leave the organization, the login email can remain constant. Also, get in the habit of adding more users with admin access to your Google Grants account. This will prevent future login problems from happening.
4. Do Not Submit Account for Activation
The Google Grants application process works in two stages: 1) apply for the Grant and get approved 2) create your AdWords account and submit for review and subsequent activation. Sometimes I see charities only complete step 1 and not realizing that they have to submit their AdWords account to be reviewed and then activated. Step 2 is critical and also be aware that you’re expected to submit within 30 days of getting approved. If you let this drag on, you could lose your grant.
5. Submission Errors
On occasion, bugs occur when you submit your application or review to Google. This can be problematic because if you think that you’ve submitted it, but in reality it never went through, you could be spending time waiting for the grant when really nothing will happen. To avoid this, make sure after you hit the submit button that you are redirected to a confirmation page. Also, verify that the submission went through by looking for an email confirmation. If you see neither of those things, you should resubmit.
6. Not Being Persistent
To give you some background on the Google Grants program, it’s run by employees at Google who are volunteering their time to support the program. Depending on how busy the Google Grants team is, it can take varying amounts of time to approve the grant. It’s possible that, from time to time, applications fall through the crack. After all, they’re just human. However, on the whole they do a great job with the program. In those cases where a charity feels like it’s taken too long to get approved for a grant, or they haven’t heard back, I’ve found persistence to be the best remedy. If it’s more than 5 weeks without any contact, I urge you to contact the Google Grants team via email, providing your application details and your situation. If you don’t hear back, try them again. For every charity we’ve helped that had a problem getting a Google Grant, persistence has paid off.