Maximizing Your Google Ad Grants in 2018

The Google Ad Grants Program is an excellent resource for supporting your organization’s digital presence without having to up your advertising budget. A brief overview: The program gives eligible 501(c)(3) nonprofits the chance to advertise on Google AdWords free of cost. Eligible nonprofits receive $10,000 a month in AdWords—or $40,000 for GrantsPro—to create ads promoting their organizations in Google search results. There are more than 35,000 nonprofits participating in the program worldwide. Although there are restrictions on how you can use the funds and maintain eligibility, there’s really no good reason not to participate if you qualify.

At the start of 2018, Google rolled out several significant changes to its Grants program, including:

–         Click through rate (CTR) for each account must be at least 5% overall from now on. Accounts receive notifications when they dip below this and have a chance to make changes to improve. If you’re below 5% for two consecutive months, the account is suspended until you raise it, at which point you request it be reinstated. It’s important to note here that generally speaking, a 5% CTR is considered excellent and even most paid campaigns do not regularly achieve it.

–         Single-word keywords are not allowed (excluding your own branded words, recognized medical conditions, and a small number of exception keywords published here). Despite this rule, Google’s Opportunities feature still recommends single-word keywords for your campaigns, so you need to ignore or reject those recommendations. If you add single-word keywords that do not comply, you will receive a notification that you need to remove them.

–         Keywords with a quality score of 2 or less are no longer allowed. Again, if you have keywords that violate this rule, you will receive a notification.

–         Ad Grants accounts must have specific geo-targeting to show ads in locations relevant to your nonprofit. This rule is one of the most beneficial in our opinion, because it allows you to get the most bang for your buck by targeting people who have greater access to your services.

–         Ad Grants AdWords accounts must have the following:

o   At least 2 active ad groups per campaign, each containing a set of closely related keywords and 2 active text ads

o   At least 2 sitelink ad extensions


  • The most exciting change for 2018 so far is that Google has lifted the $2 cost-per-click (CPC) maximum for campaigns that use the Maximize Conversions bid strategy.This is an automated bid strategies that uses machine learning to automatically optimize bids to help get the most conversions for your campaign (within the budget you set) based on an account’s historical performance. With proper conversion tracking is in place, grant campaigns can now be more competitive in search auctions.

Although some of these changes seem very restrictive and somewhat arbitrary, the good news in all of this is that your nonprofit should end up with more effective ad campaigns that bring more conversions if you are meeting all the requirements. The GrantsPro program is no longer taking applications at this time, but we will keep all our clients posted if that changes.

If you would like to apply for an Adwords Grant, or need help managing an existing grant, let us know. We’d love to discuss how we could make this a truly valuable resource for your organization.