Learn about Google Ad Grants for Non-Profits.


How much more could your non-profit do if it had US$10,000 a month in free advertising? Google Ad Grants can make that happen.

Google has given more than 115,000 qualifying charities over US$9 billion in free online advertising since 2003. These free ads can promote your mission, initiatives and fundraising events. They will appear to people looking online for organizations like yours during some of the 3.5 billion searches done every day

How big a difference can they make? With the help of a Google Ad Grants and a third-party agency that managed the campaign, the American Brain Tumour Association increased the number of people who clicked on its ads by 45 per cent in 2018. Those clicks landed them on the charity’s web pages, where they found information they wanted about research, getting involved and giving donations.

To qualify for Google Ad Grants your organization must meet the criteria for a Google for Nonprofits account. It must be a charity registered with the Canada Revenue Agency, a federal not-for-profit registered with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, or a provincially registered non-profit. Government entities and organizations, hospitals and medical groups, schools, universities, and other academic institutions are not eligible. However, philanthropic arms of educational institutions are eligible, as are charitable foundations associated with health-care organizations.

How to sign up for Google Ad Grants

Once you’ve confirmed your organization is qualified, you must go through a series of steps to apply for ad grants:

  • Register with TechSoup, which provides technology support to non-profits in Canada. TechSoup will verify you are qualified by giving you a token number you can use to access products and services intended exclusively for non-profits.
  • Your TechSoup token will allow you to set up a Google for Nonprofits account, which gives you free access to Google products and opens the Google Ad Grants application.
  • Make sure you have a high-quality website that meets Google Ad Grants criteria
    • The Google Ad Grants team takes the quality and usability of your site into consideration when reviewing your application.
    • The quality of your site affects if and when your ads appear. More importantly, a high-quality site makes it more likely someone who lands there will take action.

The two-part application process can take from two weeks to several months to complete, depending on what prerequisites your organization meets. It’s important to complete every step of the application properly. That includes certifying your non-profit meets Google’s requirements relating to non-discrimination and issuing of donation receipts.

What do Google Ad Grants cover?

What are the rules and processes for using ad grants?

  1. Google is regularly updating the program and tweaking its policies as the market changes. It has rolled out an Account Review Dashboard that lets non-profits keep track of account compliance on a single interface. A best practice is to review it weekly to stay current and avoid missteps.
  2. Periodically, Google auditors may flag or suspend an account in error. Be prepared to work with Google through a manual auditing process and ensure your account is reinstated as quickly as possible.
  3. There is a $2 cap on bids for cost-per-click ads if your account’s performance merits it. There is no $2 limit if the strategy is to maximize conversions, such as clicks to your website and phone calls.
  4. You must have valid conversion tracking. This means you must use conversion-based smart bidding for all your campaigns. Each campaign must use either maximize conversions, maximize conversion values, target-cost-per-acquisition or target-return-on-ad-spend bidding.
  5. You cannot bid on branded keywords that are not affiliated with your brand. You also cannot bid on single non-branded keywords, with some exceptions.
  6. Your account must maintain a click-through rate of at least five per cent. That means at least five per cent of the people who see your ads are clicking on them. If your account is below this mark for two consecutive months, it will be cancelled.
  7. Your ads must use geo-targeting that includes the province, municipality and postal code.
  8. Your account must have two active ad groups that contain related keywords and two active text ads.
  9. Your ads must have a minimum of two sitelink extensions. Sitelink extensions take people to specific pages on your website, such as one for a fundraiser or one that tells them your office hours. When someone clicks or taps text in your ad about the fundraiser, it takes them to that page. When they click on text about contacting you, it takes them to the page with your office hours and phone number. Tap this text to learn more about sitelink extensions.
  10. You must complete an annual survey about the program.

Landing page tips

Make sure your website is ready when ad clicks bring users there:
• Be clear about what you’d like users to do next with a strong call to action, like a visible phone number or “donate now” button at the top of the page. Without this, users may quickly leave the page without doing anything.
• Create a sense of urgency.
• Make sure content is easy to access and scroll through.
• Forms should be easy to fill out and only include questions essential to completing the action the user wants to take. A study by Unbounce found the optimum conversion rate is 25 per cent for a three-field form, but that figure drops to 15 per cent for a six-field form. So stick to shorter forms with simple questions to convert visitors to supporters or clients.
• Include the Google Ad Grants logo, as it invokes trust.

Once you understand how they work and have all pieces in place, you are ready to take advantage of ad grants. Use this checklist to ensure you don’t forget any steps.


  • TechSoup account setup
  • Google Ad Grants account setup
  • Google Analytics and conversion tracking
  • Keyword research and selection
  • Campaign setup and optimization
  • Ad groups setup 
  • Ad spend management
  • Ad copy writing, site links and extensions
  • Landing page identification and suggestion
  • Account setting optimization
  • PPC bid and bid strategy management
  • Campaign optimization and improvement
  • Creative and campaign testing
  • Ad grants policy compliance

Running your campaign

Even with ad grants, running a campaign takes time and effort. Outsourcing it allows you to get the best results. Postmedia can assist you with the application process and managing your campaign. We offer holistic solutions for all your marketing needs. Our team can help you get the most out of your search campaign and develop a larger marketing plan to meet your goals.