A guide on how nonprofits can get $10,000 every month in free Google advertising

Google Grants LogoSince founding ConnectAd in 2010 I’ve had the privilege to help a lot of charities get Google Grants. In fact, every charity we’ve worked with has successfully secured Google Grants.
Now a 100% grant success rate sounds pretty impressive, but to tell you the truth it’s really not that difficult. It does, however, require a diligent process and attention to detail, so I want to share my experience to help your charity get Google Grants, and be able to get it faster.
1. Determine Your Eligibility
Back in 2010 I had a conversation with a member of the Google Grants team and the “secret” they told me was every charity that’s eligible for Google Grants will be approved for one. That they’re willing to award the grant to so many charities is one of the many amazing aspects about the program.

every charity that’s eligible for Google Grants will be approved for one

Since eligibility means you’ll get the grant, you should review the criteria with a fine-toothed comb. You can find the full list of criteria on the Google Grants website, but here are a few of the big ones:

  • You must be a registered charity (ex: 501(c)(3) status in the U.S., CRA status in Canada, etc.)
  • You must be registered in one of the 31 eligible countries
  • You must have a website and not display revenue-generating ads, like Google AdSense
  • You cannot be a government entity, hospital, school, childcare, academic institution, university, political party, political organization, or lobbying group

2. Prepare Your Application
The application process for U.S. charities and non U.S. charities is different, and this distinction can be a stumbling block for charities.
U.S. Charities Only
U.S. charities must apply for the Google For Nonprofits program first. G4NP is a larger encompassing program that gives you potential access to Google Apps For Nonprofits, Google Earth Outreach, YouTube For Nonprofits, and AdWords For Nonprofits (or Google Grants). The turnaround time for G4NP is fairly quick but must be done prior to your Google Grants application.
Non U.S. Charities
The bad news is that Google For Nonprofits hasn’t arrived outside the U.S. yet. The good news is that your application process is simpler in that you can apply directly for it. You can find your country-specific application here.
Expert Tip
You should create a charity-specific Gmail account (i.e. yourcharity@gmail.com) to apply. There’s two reasons for this:

  1. You need a Gmail/Google Account to run AdWords anyways
  2. If you leave your organization, you want to be able to easily pass off the Google Grants account to the next person. This becomes harder if you applied for Google Grants using a personal email or one that’s yourname@yourcharity.com

3. Submit Your Application
Once you know which Google Grants program you’re applying for and have a charity specific Gmail ready, it’s time to submit the application. The process is simple as they only ask for some basic contact information and proof of your charity’s registered status. Make sure you use your new Gmail from Step 2 as the contact email.
Expert Tip
You will always receive an email confirmation that your grant application was submitted. Check your spam folders as well for any notification. If you haven’t received confirmation, your submission was unsuccessful and you should apply again. I’ve seen many frustrated charities who wait weeks for an approval that will never come, because the application never went through.
4. Create AdWords Account
Once you’ve been approved for Google Grants, it’s time to create an AdWords account. This account has to be submitted to Google for review before the grant credits are activated.
Create a new AdWords accounts here, even if you already have an AdWords account. During the process, it will ask you for a Google (Gmail) Account, which you should already have from Step 2. Also, they will ask you what billing currency you want to use, and it’s incredibly important that you select USD no matter what country you’re from. Otherwise, your account will be rejected by Google and you will have to create a brand new account. I’m ashamed to admit it but I made this rookie mistake once myself and as a result, it delayed the grant activation by 2 weeks.
5. Setup AdWords Account
Inside the AdWords account, there are a few settings you must follow. Failing to do any of these can cause your AdWords account to be rejected by Google Grants, at which point you’ll have to create a new AdWords account without the mistakes and resubmit to Google for activation. It’ll add weeks to getting the grant and more work on your part. Here are the critical settings:

  • Your campaigns are NOT targeting the display network
  • Your campaigns target Google search only, and NOT search partners
  • Keyword bidding is set to manual only
  • No keyword bids set above $1
  • Total budget for all campaigns doesn’t exceed $330

Expert Tip
You should set all your keyword bids to $1, which is the optimal bidding strategy for Google Grants accounts.
6. Submit Your Account For Review & Activation
After you’re sure your account is setup properly, you can submit it to Google for review and subsequent activation. The Google Grants approval email you received before will have the link to the submission page, as it’s different depending on your country.
Similar to Step 3, you will receive confirmation if your submission was successful. Check your spam, and if you don’t see any notifications, submit it again.
7. Start Your Account
Google will notify your contact email after they’ve approved and activated your Google Grants account. All your campaigns will have been paused by your reviewer, so you will need to log in and un-pause each campaign.
Last but not least, wipe the sweat off your brow, give yourself a pat on the back, and revel in the $10,000 of free monthly advertising your charity can now receive!
Has your charity applied for Google Grants? Tell us about your experience! Did you encounter any difficulties? Were you successful?

3 Comments. Leave new

  • Hey, great article. I Just applied for a Google grant for a client of mine and am waiting for approval. In The mean time they were wondering if they could spend their own money while waiting for approval?

    I knwo you’re not supposed to set up billing info so I was assuming this wasn’t possible, but If anyone has any insight into this it would be much appreciated.

    • Thanks Brian! You absolutely cannot put your billing info in the Google Grants account. That will cause it to be rejected for activation. What you can do is create another AdWords account and spend your own money there. Simple solution!

  • Hey, very useful article. I´ve a question. I guess I was approved my mistake at google Grants programm since my account is set up as currency MXN not USD. Should I create a new account in USD and start using it or must I resubmit it. Thanks.


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