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Getting the Google Grant: Your Nonprofit’s 5 Step Guide

Guest Author

The Google Ad Grant is one of the most flexible and powerful tools your nonprofit can use, but many organizations don’t know how to apply. There are some basic steps that you can take to determine your eligibility and apply for the Google Ad Grant if you want to use $10,000 in monthly ad credits for your organization to your advantage.

 

How many of your goals would be easier to meet if you could just put the right pages in front of your ideal audience? These Google credits allow you to place targeted ads in search engine results. This helps you fundraise, find volunteers, increase your visibility, and more by placing your content where interested supporters are most likely to see it. 

To take advantage of this opportunity, you first need approval by Google.  Here are the five steps to obtaining the Google Grant for your organization:

  1. Determine eligibility.
  2. Create a Google for Nonprofits account. 
  3. Revamp your nonprofit’s website. 
  4. Install Google Analytics. 
  5. Submit your application!

Each part of the process can help your organization to grow and the steps can typically be completed in anywhere from 2 days to a month. Don’t think of it only as an application; think of it as a roadmap to a better digital marketing strategy, and the Google Ad Grant is your destination!

Determine eligibility. 

Your path to obtaining the Google Ad Grant begins with determining your eligibility. Most nonprofit organizations in the United States qualify, as well as many others across the globe. To apply for the Google Ad Grant, your organization must meet the following qualifications:

  • Your organization must be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. It may seem like common sense, but you will need your EIN and nonprofit status to obtain the grant. Some religious organizations (like churches) operate under a tax-exempt status by default and may not have ever formally applied for 501(c)(3). These organizations would need to get their tax exemption officially recognized by the IRS first.

  • Your organization must not be a school, a hospital, or a government institution. These organizations do not qualify for the Ad Grant, but charitable foundations attached to them do.
  • Your organization must hold a TechSoup membership. TechSoup checks your nonprofit status when you join, and Google uses this verification to prove that you are a legal nonprofit.  TechSoup has lots of other benefits, such as providing discounts or deals on technology for nonprofits, so there’s a lot more than just verifying your nonprofit status.
    • Your organization must have a high-quality website. Google requires you to have a well-designed website owned by your nonprofit. Your website should be easy to navigate, free of visual clutter or annoying popups that might cause the page to load slowly, and mobile-friendly.
  • Your website must be secure. For many websites, security means having an SSL certificate for your website, which is default by many website-building platforms. If you do not know if you have this yet, go to your website and see if your web address includes “https” instead of “http.” If it does, then your website is secure. If it doesn't, your domain name registrar or website developer can help you set up the necessary security.

Follow these steps to ensure that you fit Google’s qualifications. Once you have double-checked that your nonprofit is eligible, you are ready to take your first big step toward the Google Ad Grant by creating your account.

Create a Google for Nonprofits account.

The next thing that you will need is a Google for Nonprofits account. Signing up is easy, and you may already have one if your organization uses Gmail or Google Drive. 

Google for Nonprofits is a collection of software and services that can help with many different areas of your organization’s day-to-day functions, including tools like Google Workspace (with Google Drive, Google calendars, and Gmail accounts), the YouTube Nonprofit Program, and Google Maps. These resources are free and can be easily applied to make your workday more efficient.

If you don’t have an account yet, creating one is simple. Once you click “Get Started” and create an account, you will enter your organization’s EIN, physical address, and contact information. Once this is confirmed, you will provide your verification information from TechSoup.

If you’re working through the process as you read along, it is time to put the waiting period for Google for Nonprofits to use by making your website as effective as possible.

Revamp your nonprofit’s website.

We touched on some of the elements of a good website above (especially the qualities that Google values most). But why settle for the bare minimum? To use Google Ads as part of your digital marketing strategy, you will want your website to be effective, engaging, and capable of representing the best parts of your organization. After all, is there any better way to help improve donor retention than to make it easy and safe to donate online?

Here are some of the hallmarks of a high-performing website:

  • Put extra attention on valuable pages. Not every page on your website is equal. For many visitors, your home page will be their first impression of your entire organization, so put your best foot forward. Work to make your donation pages and other high volume pages safe and easy to use. 
  • Increase your website’s accessibility. Ensuring that anyone who finds your website can interact with it is both inclusive and pragmatic. An accessible website should be fully functional with only a keyboard (no mouse), use a color scheme and font size that makes the site easy to read, include alt text on images, and logical and clearly labeled navigation links.
  • Be proud of your mission statement. As you know, your nonprofit’s mission statement is a quick way to explain who you are and how you are helping your community, so don’t hide it away on an “About” page. Make sure that it is easy to find on multiple pages and featured prominently. That helps visitors to understand your organization and builds a sense of trust.
  • Be consistent in your branding. In a similar sense, your branding is part of how your nonprofit expresses itself in the digital world. It can harm your organization’s trustworthiness to display different or old versions of branding together (logos, color schemes, slogans). Keeping your branding unified under one theme and logo sends a strong message that you are capable and organized.
  • Use vibrant and meaningful graphics. When your website uses images, it should use them well. Graphics leave a strong impression on viewers, but too many can quickly become overwhelming. Find images that tell your organization’s story, whether that be the smiling faces of your dedicated volunteers or infographics that clearly explain the importance of your cause. You want your images to leave a lasting positive impression.

 

The art of creating an effective website can take time to master, so don’t be afraid to make adjustments as you go. You will see what impacts the number of clicks you receive and how many visitors follow through to completing your goals. There are few tools as useful for this as Google Analytics.

Install Google Analytics. 

Few things are as helpful in every aspect of running a nonprofit as data collection. From how your Google Ads are performing to improving your fundraising techniques, having access to the correct information helps you make better decisions and achieve better results.

Collecting donor data from your online fundraising can help you know where to invest future efforts for even greater returns. Google Analytics can help create and track your goals by recording when users take particular, valuable actions. For instance, you can see the pages that get users on your website and which routes reliably convert visitors into participants

Your Analytics page will also work seamlessly with the Google Ads that you place to monitor how they are performing, allowing you to constantly refine your ads by seeing what is working and what is not. Learning what data to apply and how to use it will also help you better utilize what you gather.

You will need a Google Analytics account to use the Google Ad Grant once you're approved, so why wait? It is free to sign up for and easy to install. Google Analytics cannot track data from before being added to your site, so signing up sooner rather than later means missing out on less valuable data.

 

The key to more effective ads is constantly learning from your past successes and failures. No one masters Google Ads overnight, but anyone can improve their ads and better meet their goals.

Submit your application!

With all of the above steps taken care of, you are now ready to submit your Google Ad Grant application! Once submitted, it typically takes between 2 and 14 days to hear back as Google reviews your completion of the various requirements.

The Google Ad Grant renews monthly and does not require you to reapply in the future so long as you maintain compliance with Google’s specifications. The main reasons that an account could be suspended include:

  • Misrepresenting your organization or abusing the ad system.
  • Having your nonprofit status revoked.
  • Failing to meet the eligibility criteria for Google for Nonprofits.
  • Violating Google’s terms & policies on a repeated basis.
  • Needing to be re-verified (typically only an issue for organizations that originally signed up for Google for Nonprofits before 2016).

Should any of these issues occur, you can have your Google Ad Grant reactivated by fixing any problems and contacting Google. If this seems daunting, it may be helpful to seek professional assistance from Google-certified Ad Grant management to help get your account back on track.

 

 

The steps to obtaining the Google Grant may seem daunting, but you will find that each of them has the potential to benefit your organization both as you pursue the grant and long after. If you have everything in order, obtaining the Google Ad Grant will likely be in your future.

The Google Ad Grant takes practice to use effectively, but it is not time-consuming to obtain or manage. Stick with it and you will find the digital marketing solution that you have been searching for!

 


About the Author: Grant Hensel

Grant Hensel is the CEO of Nonprofit Megaphone, an agency focused 100% on Google Grant Management for nonprofits. NPM is honored to manage the Google Grant for 370+ leading nonprofits worldwide and to be an inaugural member of the Google Ad Grant Certified Professionals community.

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