The Ultimate Church Guide to Google Ad Grants

| Cristy Bird | ,

Did you know that non-profit organizations are eligible for $10,000 a month in Google Ads grants? Yes, you read that correctly, (yes, that’s $330/day, and $120,000 a year). If you are a part of a 501(c)(3) organization you can get, for free, $10,000 worth of Google text/search ads. There are several important things to consider before jumping on this deal so we wanted to compile this ultimate guide to google ad grants so you can decide if they’re right for you. We’ll also offer some tips on using the grant money and some guidelines that will help you navigate this grant if you use it. 

Why Google Ad Grants?

Google Ad Grant program is for 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations including charities and churches. Google wants to help get the word out about organizations working to help our communities, so they’ve pledged $10,000 per month per qualified organization to help these organizations attract donors, volunteers, and just generally help raise awareness. The program has been around for more than a decade with little participation – only 20,000 organizations have taken advantage of the program which only accounts for a little more than one percent of the 1.5 million organizations in the U.S. that would qualify. 

Google Grants Eligibility

There are several requirements Google has put in place in order to use this program. Ensuring your organization qualifies before getting too far into the process will save you time and a headache. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. The organization must already have a 501(c)(3) status from the IRS. You can’t move forward until you have this status. 
  2. You can’t be a hospital, government agency, or school but if any of these have non-profit arms or organizations affiliated with them they may qualify, depending on how the organization is set up.
  3. You will need to agree to Google’s non-discrimination policy. 
  4. You must have a unique domain for your organization. (e.g., yourcharityorchurch.org)
    1. It must be an HTTPS and SSL (check if you have a “lock” symbol for your web address in your search bar. We can help if yours is not secure.)
    2. Google requires the site to have a “robust and clear description of your organization and mission with substantial content, updated events and information, clear navigation, and clear calls to action.”

When the items above have been confirmed, you can begin the application process. 

How to Apply

Applying for Google Grants will be a process so just know that going in. You’ll have some items to sign that Google will send you, some periods of waiting for responses from Google and several forms to fill out. If you have questions about this process along the way there are resources to help you out and some are linked below. Here are the steps you’ll need to follow to apply: 

  1. Set up a Google account for your non-profit organization. (You can start with either TechSoup or Google, the order doesn’t matter. If you already have a Google account starting with TechSoup will make the most sense.)
    1. You will need your tax ID number from the IRS process above.
    2. You’ll need your TechSoup token – see step 2 below.
  2. Register your organization with TechSoup. Google will verify your organization’s non-profit status. 
  3. Make note of your verification token from TechSoup. You will need this to complete the application. The token is a mix of digits and alpha characters. 
  4. Fill out a pre-qualification survey that Google provides via a Google form 
    1. You will need your Google customer ID (do not provide payment information or sign up for the paid version of Google Ads).
  5. You’ll be required to watch a 5-minute training and take a short quiz which they will provide. 
  6. Approval—this can take 5-10 business days and will require you to walk through the above steps and activate your organization’s Google Ad Non-profit account. (The steps are a list of actions you take – this last one doesn’t match the rest of the list and should just be an ending sentence.)

Tips for Using Google Grant Ads

Google Ad Grants aren’t typical ads so we need to chat about what you’re actually getting with these and why you can’t access them or get them through traditional ad accounts. There are good reasons why many don’t choose to use these types of ads. The first obstacle is the qualification process, but beyond that not everyone knows that they even exist, where to start, how to manage the ads or how to collect the monthly free credits. So we’ll share some info and tips on how to get the most out of this grant. 

  1. Google Grant Ads are search-only text ads. They don’t allow images or videos.
  2. There are numerous specific requirements for how you use the ads and they change so be sure to keep an eye out for updates.
    1. You must have 2 or more ad groups in a campaign, and 2 ads in each ad group, and 2 sitelink extensions.
    2. You can not use single word keywords.
    3. You must use geo-targeting, i.e. you must be specific about where your desired audience resides. Get as specific as possible in order to meet their requirements. 
    4. Keywords cannot be “overly generic” (is this a quote from Google? If not, remove the quotation marks) The determination will be at Google’s discretion and is subjective. The rules also change frequently so stay vigilant. Ex. Church, Charity, Kids(are you saying these words are interchangeable?)
    5. Keywords must earn a 3 or higher quality score. Google uses an algorithm to determine the quality score of keywords. Make sure your keywords and phrases are on the pages you’re sending the audience to or your quality score drops.
    6. Your CTR (click through rate) must be at 5% or higher.
    7. You must have conversion tracking on and working properly with at least 1 conversion per month. If you’re getting more than a 15% conversion rate, Google may suspend or investigate your account to confirm the conversions are set up correctly and aren’t just “landed on homepage” (is this a direct quote from Google? If not, remove quotation marks)  – something that wouldn’t really equate to a needed action.
    8. Google recommends logging in every month at a minimum and you must be continually spending some amount of money or they may suspend the account. 
  3. Google has specifications for setting up campaigns and they offer advice on how to set up automatic rules to help you abide by their requirements. You can find them here.

Your Next Steps

Managing Google setup and maintenance can take time and be confusing but Google does offer some training. There is no shortage of help on Youtube and we also provide services to help if you are having trouble getting started or managing your campaigns long term.

The restrictions on Google Grant Ads are more robust than paid campaigns but don’t get overwhelmed. A well-thought out strategy for your audience and website that drives traffic to the site will help tremendously plus access to unlimited amounts of dollars to try and boost your presence, that is a win-win. Most organizations can’t ever reach the $10,000 a month. Google numbers show most organizations only use about $800 a month. This is mostly due to mismanagement like choosing the wrong keywords, not narrowing bad keywords or phrases or using the landing pages without appropriate SEO and calls to action, etc. Hyper-targeting (a good thing) is another reason you may not be able to spend the full amount.

  1. Review your site for SEO – does it have a good user experience? Does it provide all the information a visitor needs? Does it have multiple pages with information on the pages that allow users to take actions (i.e. fill out a form, make a call, submit email, etc.)?
  2. Review your audience. Do you know your audience? Do you know who would benefit from knowing about your site? Do you know how people find you? If you don’t take a little bit of time to figure these things out.
  3. When you’re ready to get started, give us a call, we’re happy to setup a free 20 minute conversation to do a review or give some expert advice.

Digital Marketing Help

Google Ad Grants are just one part of a holistic digital marketing plan. But your marketing plan doesn’t need to be overwhelming. You can start small and grow it over time. Brainstorming and establishing some small attainable goal is a great way to begin. If you need help, we’re here to be your guide.

Resources

Constant Contact Blog: Google Grants for Non-profits
Google: https://www.google.com/grants
Google Nonprofit: https://www.google.com/nonprofits/offerings/google-ad-grants/
Google Additional Resources: https://www.google.com/nonprofits/offerings/youtube-nonprofit-program/
Nonprofit Tech for Good: https://www.nptechforgood.com/2020/05/18/the-ultimate-guide-to-the-google-ad-grant-2020-edition/
Word Stream: https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2017/12/18/google-ad-grants-policy-changes
Reach Right Studios: https://reachrightstudios.com/google-grant-for-churches/
Whole Whale Tips: https://www.wholewhale.com/tips/how-to-apply-for-google-ad-grant/
Missional Marketing Overview: Youtube Video
Government Church Grants: https://www.governmentgrants.us/church-grants/
Learning Candid Resources: https://learning.candid.org/resources/knowledge-base/number-of-nonprofits-in-the-u-s/

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