The Google Ad Grants program can provide free Google Ads advertising for up to $10,000 USD per month on Google search results pages to eligible nonprofit organizations. The program is a great resource for nonprofits and was designed to help nonprofits connect with people to make a bigger impact in and on the world. To find out if your nonprofit is eligible, review the criteria.
They have recently announced some changes that have an impact on the program. As a nonprofit, you can only display text ads on the Google Search Network, which means display advertising is not an option. You are limited to $10,000 per month, or a $329 daily spending limit. In addition, there is a $2.00 per click maximum bid, unless you set up conversion tracking and utilize Google’s Smart Bidding. You are expected to manage your own account or work with an agency like The Digital Hawks that specializes in $10,000 and under monthly budgets.
In addition to the eligibility criteria to be considered, there is also criteria for maintenance of the account to continue your eligibility. This includes:
- Check-ins: You must manage your account at least once a month and Google has the right to pause ads if you do not
- Approved URL: Only the URL of your nonprofit (you provide during the setup phase) can be utilized to drive traffic to.
- No financial products can be offered: This includes things like loans or mortgages or other large incentives in exchange for donations.
- Mission focused: Ad messaging must reflect the mission/purpose of your nonprofits.
Changes in 2018
The largest change in 2018 is the lifting of the $2 bid cap on keywords through the use of Google Smart Bidding. Furthermore, the following changes have also been put in place:
- No single-word keywords permitted – other than brand keywords as well as approved medical condition keywords (and possibly others Google deems an exception for you), Google Ad Grants can no longer use single-word keywords in their account.
- No overly generic keywords – Examples Google provided “free videos,” or “today’s news.” These types of keywords do not indicate the intent of the person searching and need to be removed from your account.
- Low quality score keywords are not permitted – If you have keywords with a quality score of 1 or 2, you need to improve your score through ad copy changes and landing page changes, or they need to be paused or removed.
- 5% Click-Through Rate Each Month – Each month your click-through rate (CTR) needs to be a cumulative (across the account) at 5% or above. If it falls below that for two consecutive months, it can result in temporary account deactivation.
So, what does this all mean. And how are you going to maintain a 5% CTR each month. First, don not worry too much. By following their first three new rules, single-word keywords, overly generic keywords and low-quality score, you must likely will raise your click-through rate to a better percentage.
From there, things like tweaking your ad messaging can also help increase CTR. In addition, utilizing exact match and very niche keywords in addition to your brand name has a huge lift overall on CTR. And finally, you may need to pause keywords that have too low of a CTR to keep you above the 5%.
Basically, some cleanup of keywords, updating your messaging and checking in on your account more regularly should keep your eligibility for this outstanding program for nonprofits.