by Aden Andrus February 1, 2017

Should You Apply for a Google Grant?

What are Google Grants? Do you want one? How do you qualify for and keep a Google Grant?

If you’re trying to get the word out about your non-profit organization, Google Grants can be a lifesaver. For most nonprofits, a decent marketing budget can be hard to come by, making it hard to round up volunteers, donations or any of the hundred other things your organization needs to achieve its mission.

And, if no one knows about your cause, it won’t be long before you go from nonprofit…to nonexistent.

That’s where Google for Nonprofits comes into play. Google for Nonprofits gives your nonprofit organization access to a number of products you can use to get the word out, including Google Grants—a $10,000/month AdWords grant.

Odds are, if you’re reading this blog post, you’re probably excited about the potential of Google Grants, but you’re not exactly sure how to apply for and maintain a Google Grant. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

At Disruptive, we’ve helped many nonprofits obtain, maintain and use their Google Grants to grow their nonprofit organization. In this article, we’ll share some of the best tips and tricks we’ve discovered over the years.

So, ready to put your nonprofit on the map? Let’s get started!

What are Google Grants?

To put it simply, Google Grants are free advertising—courtesy of Google. All you have to do is qualify and Google will give you $10,000 a month you can use to advertising on AdWords! All you have to do is qualify and apply.

To qualify, your organization has to meet 3 criteria:

  1. Be a charity. This seems like a no-brainer, but you need to be a registered charity in your country to apply. For example, if your charity is based in the US, you need to have current 501(c)(3) status.
  2. Agree to Google’s terms and conditions. Again, another no-brainer, but Google does have fairly strict policies on how you can use Google Grant money, so it’s a good idea to pay attention to the details here (we’ll discuss these specifics in a second).
  3. Have a decent website. If you don’t have a functional website or your website doesn’t do a good job of explaining what your nonprofit is all about, that can disqualify you. Makes sense, right?

Unfortunately, even if you meet all 3 of these criteria, there are a few types of nonprofits that still are not eligible for Google Grants:

  • Most educational organizations (childcare centers, schools, universities, etc)—note, a philanthropic branch of an educational organization can be eligible
  • Medical groups or hospitals
  • Governmental organizations and entities

If your nonprofit organization fits these criteria, apply for a Google Grant! It’s free advertising, so what’s to lose? (by the way, if you’d like us to help you get approved for a Google Grant, let us know here or in the comments).

Keeping Your Google Grant

Remember all those terms and conditions you had to agree to? Essentially, they boil down to 3 basic rules:

1. Link Your Ads to Your Website

This one’s fairly easy, but keep in mind that all of your ads have to link to the URL you submitted with your application. Don’t get excited about marketing an event and try to use your grant to push traffic to an Eventbrite event page.

In addition, you can’t use a Google Grant to send traffic to a page on your site that is full of links to other sites. And, along those same lines, your website can’t host Google AdSense or other affiliate advertising display ads.

After all, the point of this Grant is to help your organization, not to feed traffic to other businesses.

2. Log into Your AdWords Account at Least 1/Month

Again, easy, right? But…you’d be surprised at just how many people win a Google Grant, create their account, set up a few ads and forget to log in on a regular basis. You’d never do that, though, right?

3. Run Ads that Match Your Mission

In other words, you can’t use your grant to make a little extra cash on the side. That doesn’t mean you can’t use your grant to sell products, but 100% of the proceed from those products must go towards supporting your program.

That being said, you can’t run ads for financial products like credit cards or that ask for large good donations like boats, property or cars. In fact, you can’t even advertise on keywords related to these ads. While this may be something your organization legitimately needs, you can’t mention it in your ads because, well, Google probably doesn’t want to fund cults.

These rules are important because if you violate Google’s guidelines, Google can revoke your grant at any time. But, if you stick to the rules, you should be just fine.

Using Your Google Grant

We won’t go into the details of how to best use your Google Grant in this article. That’s a blog post in and of itself (this blog post, to be precise). However, to get you started, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Your max daily budget is $329. In Google’s eyes, $10,000 a month works out to $329 a day. Don’t worry, though, odds are that you won’t be spending that much a day anytime soon. Why? Well…
  • Your max cost-per-click (CPC) is $2. Yep, you can only bid $2.00 per click. And, Google gives priority to paying advertisers, so your ads will not rank well on highly competitive keywords. Does that mean your Google Grant is useless? Not by a long shot! You just have to be a bit creative with your keyword strategy.
  • You can only run text ads. Sorry, no Display Ads for you. Your ads also won’t run on any of Google’s Search Partners sites. Depending on who you’re trying to reach, these limitations could be a problem, but most of the time, they won’t be deal breakers.

Admittedly, these restrictions can leave you feeling like your hands are tied, but free money is free money…even if it comes with some caveats.


So, should you apply for a Google Grant? If you meet the criteria and you’re willing to put in the time to set up and maintain your account, then absolutely! We’ve seen Google Grants do fantastic things for our nonprofit clients.

In fact, if you love the idea of a Google Grant, but you’re not sure about the whole application and account management side of things, we’d be happy to help you out. We offer discount rates for nonprofits, so let us know here or in the comments if you’d like us to get your nonprofit on AdWords.

Any questions about applying for, keeping or using a Google Grant? Ask them in the comments!

  • AdWords

Aden Andrus

Aden Andrus

Over his career, Aden has developed and marketed millions of dollars of successful products. He lays awake at nights figuring out new marketing tactics and is constantly upping Disruptive's internal marketing game. He loves to write, dance and destroy computer monitors in full medieval armor.

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