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Google Ad Grants for Charities & Nonprofits: How can I get Google Ads for free?

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Written by Ash Beardsall on March 1st, 2024
Google Ad Grants are available for charities and nonprofits – offering them funding for digital advertising that they may be otherwise unable to afford. These grants are extremely useful, enabling you to raise the profile of your organisation, increase your donation revenue, attract volunteers, and much more!


How do Google Ad Grants work and who are they for?

Grant Ads accounts work very similarly to traditional ads accounts; eligible causes include arts and culture organisations such as museums, theatres, and botanical gardens – they must be a registered charity in order to apply. If your organisation qualifies, you’ll be given up to $10,000 worth of free Google Ads per month!

The great news for your organisation is simple… free advertising!
The downside is that you need the time, resources, and knowledge to manage your account.

The main issues facing most charities and non-profits are the need for funding and the scarcity of resources. This can mean that you simply don’t have the time or knowledge to properly manage a Google Ads Grant account. Here are some tips to help you understand what is being offered and how you can make the most of it.

Who can apply for a Google Ad grant?

To apply for a Grant Ads account, you’ll need to be a registered charity, meet the eligibility guidelines for the country where your charity or non-profit operates, and agree to Google’s terms of service. Here in the UK, that means that your organisation must be registered with the Charity Commission, NICC, OSCR, or be registered as tax exempt and Gift Aid eligible with HMRC.

  • Your ads need to support your charity/nonprofit’s campaign mission.
  • Your website needs to be well maintained.
  • Your ads account needs to be actively managed.

Note: government bodies, hospitals, medical groups, schools, nurseries, and other academic organisations cannot apply for Google Ad Grants.

So, how do I apply for a Google Ad grant?

First you need to apply for Google for Nonprofits and sign up to Charity Digital Exchange. Once you’ve set up accounts with Google for Nonprofits and Charity Digital Exchange, you can then apply for your Ad Grants. Google for Nonprofits also gives you access to the YouTube Nonprofit Program, and Google Earth and Maps.

To set up a Google for Nonprofits account:

  1. Sign up to Charity Digital Exchange to get a Google Ad Grants token
  2. Visit Google for Nonprofits
  3. Request a Google for Nonprofits account
  4. Complete the eligibility form
  5. Submit your account activation
  6. Accept Google’s invitation

Then you can activate your Google Ad Grants account:

  1. Ensure Google Analytics is set up on your organisation’s website
  2. Make sure you’ve added your Charity Digital Exchange token
  3. Sign into your Google for Nonprofits account
  4. Click ‘Get Started’ under Google Ad Grants
  5. Fill out your eligibility assessment form
  6. Submit your organisation for review

Once your organisation has been approved, you can begin your first Google Ad Grants campaign.

I’ve already got an existing Google Ads account…
…How do I manage my Google Ad grant account?

Google have a 3-hour step-by-step guide to help you run a digital marketing ads campaign. This course will help you get to grips with the basics of Grant Ads management. If you already manage Google Ads and Google Analytics, this should be fairly straightforward.

You can run your Grant Ads account alongside your regular Google Ads account where you can continue to run paid ads separately. Your Grant Ads will appear slightly differently to your other paid ads. Grant Ads appear either on their own or below other paid advertising, and this means that competition may be slightly higher for competitive keywords. They’re also exclusively for search campaigns meaning they can’t be used for Search Partners or on the Google Display Network.

Grant accounts are closely regulated to ensure you continually meet the requirements for funded ads. These include the types of keywords you target, the number of ads per ad group, and a set of more specific requirements such as attaining a 5% CTR (click through rate) each month and only using keywords with a quality score of 3 or above. These limits stop accounts from targeting generic keywords such as ‘today’s news’ or ‘free eBooks’, for example, and aim to reduce spam and ensure the quality of the ads are consistently high.

I don’t have the time or knowledge to manage Google Ads or Analytics myself…
…Can I outsource my ad management on a tight budget?

Annoyingly, Google Ad Grants can be tricky to manage for smaller charities and nonprofits. Not everyone has a marketing team with Google Ads training, and there are specific criteria your ads have to meet in order to remain active – but there are other options.

Many charities and non-profits have to make do with a small marketing team managing a tight budget. This means you won’t always have the space in your workload to manage, analyse, and maintain paid ads – and this is why many charities outsource their marketing to digital agencies who can maximise the return on investment.

Whether you are too busy or simply can’t get your head around Google Ads, it’s worth taking advantage of the free advertising Google have to offer, even if you don’t have the means to manage the account yourself…

Regular paid advertising can be extremely beneficial for increasing donations revenue so, if you have the budget to pay for an expert to manage yours, these ads can pay for themselves! You will likely raise more money in donations, ticket sales, etc. than you will spend on outsourcing your ads management. And, with the added bonus of Grant Ads, you’ll have more resources to play with.

How can Splitpixel help?

We’re a small northern digital agency building websites for charities and non-profits across the UK. Alongside our web design services, we also have a team of digital marketers who, among a range of other services, manage Google Ad accounts for our amazing clients.

We’ve been managing the Google Ad Grants accounts for several of our clients, helping them to make the most of their $10,000 ads allowance. Our marketing team know the ins and outs of Google Ads and how to work around Google’s limits; this includes setting up conversion tracking to enable smart bidding, allowing you to exceed the Grant Ads limit of $2 as a maximum CPC (cost per click).

Inclusivity, accessibility, and sustainability are core values for us at Splitpixel, so we value working with organisations making positive social or environmental changes to our world very highly. We want to help you get the most out of the funding available to your organisation to help you get the attention you deserve.

Book a chat with our Google Ads specialist today! Simply choose a date and time below that’s best for you

Google Ad Grants FAQ’s

  • Grant Ads are available for non-profit charitable organisations. Further information on eligibility can be found in this post

  • Yes, Google Grants provide eligible organisations with $10,000 in Ad spend per month. This allocation is equivalent to approximately £7,900 in free Ad spend (at the exchange rate of when this was published). The grant budget allows such organisations to run Search Ads on Google without incurring direct costs for Ad spend.

  • Grant Ads and paid accounts use the same platform/interface however are run in separate accounts. There are additional differences in functionality, and limitations such as the types of ads and keywords that can be applied. It is worth noting that Grant Ads may not always compete as effectively for clicks and impressions compared to that of Paid Search Ads.

  • Running Google Ad Grants can be highly beneficial for many organisations. While the initial process of verification and meeting criteria can be challenging, once set up, they can be a great channel to increasing awareness, donations, and conversions for your charity.

  • Setting up and activating Google Grant Ads involves several steps, including applying for the grant account and then meeting specific eligibility criteria. You can find out how to apply by reading our blog above.

  • Yes, you can have both a paid and grant ad account simultaneously. In fact, we often recommend utilising both types of accounts to maximise your advertising efforts. Paid accounts can complement grant ads by targeting additional keywords or demographics that may be more difficult for your Grant Account to compete for.

  • While Google Grant Ads provide significant benefits to many non-profit organisations, there are specific limitations that you must adhere to. These include maintaining certain account structures and performance metrics, such as achieving a minimum 5% Monthly Click-Through Rate (CTR) and pausing keywords with low-quality scores (1-2).

  • A manual bidding strategy puts a cap on your cost per click, however you can overcome this by implementing a smart bidding strategy. Smart bidding allows for automated bidding based on specific goals, such as maximised conversions or target cost per acquisition. It’s important to ensure that conversion tracking is set up correctly to optimise your bidding strategies effectively for your objectives.

  • We certainly can, and in fact we have a wide range of different non-profit organisations that we already help! This can include simply getting your Grant Account verified to setting up and managing your Campaigns. See one of our recent case studies here.

    • To maximise the effectiveness of Grant Ads, try utilising Smart Bidding options such as max conversions to overcome the $2 max CPC limit.
    • Set campaign budgets to a maximum ($329 per day) – this can help allocate funds effectively, particularly if you are struggling to spend the full $10k monthly allocation.
    • Ensuring that conversion tracking is properly set up is essential for measuring the success of advertising campaigns and optimising performance. Without it, how do you know which Ad/keywords are performing well, and those that aren’t? Accurate Conversion tracking is one of the most important aspects of any Ad Account!
Headshot of Ash B
Written by Ash Beardsall on March 1st, 2024

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