Google Grant Application: A Nonprofit’s Guide to Applying
Applying for the Google Ad Grant can help you reach new heights with your digital marketing. The program allows nonprofits like yours to tap into paid advertising for free. Whether you want to boost donations, promote your services to beneficiaries, or share educational content about your cause on Google Search, the Google Ad Grant can help you get there.
While it’s an incredible marketing opportunity, the Google Grant application process can be lengthy, which might turn your nonprofit off from applying. Between acquiring validation tokens and creating the necessary accounts, it can take a bit of time and effort. However, the free funding is undoubtedly worth it!
Plus, once you’re approved, you’ll never have to fill out the Google Grant application again. The grant will automatically renew each month for as long as you need it (so long as you meet the ongoing Google Ad Grant requirements).
We’re here to simplify the process for you. We’ll break it down step by step, and by the end of this guide, you’ll know exactly how to apply for Google Grants. We’ll cover everything you need to know about applying, including:
- The Basics of The Google Grant Application
- Step 1) Meet the Google Ad Grant Requirements.
- Step 2) Create a Google for Nonprofits Account.
- Step 3) Wait for Verification from Percent.
- Step 4) Prepare Your Website for the Google Grant Application.
- Step 5) Fill Out The Google Grant Application.
- Step 6) Set Up Your Account and Follow Google Ad Grant Requirements.
- Getting Help With Your Google Grant Application
A lot goes into getting started with the program, which is why we suggest partnering with a professional to complete your Google Grant application. Our recommended agency, Getting Attention, is a reliable partner for all your Google Grants needs. From applying to the program to keeping your account compliant with ongoing requirements, they can help you achieve your digital marketing goals.
The Basics of The Google Grant Application
Before kickstarting the Google Grant application process, you should know what you’re getting yourself into! There’s a ton of great value you can get from the program with a thoughtful approach, but applying can take a bit of time.
Let’s explore some of the basics before you jump into applying.
How do Google Grants work?
Google Ad Grants help show your website’s content to people searching for causes like yours online. Participants conduct keyword research, develop ads that target those keywords, and use ad credits to have their ads placed in strategic spots on Google search engine results pages (SERPs).
After successfully completing the Google Grant application, eligible nonprofits receive $10,000 in ad credits each month to promote their landing pages. That adds up to an incredible $120,000 in free marketing money each year.
Using the platform, you can create paid ads at no cost to your organization. This will help drive traffic and increase visibility for your most important pages. For instance, you can:
- Amplify your donation page, events pages, and sponsorship opportunities to drive revenue.
- Promote your volunteer page and signup form.
- Increase email newsletter subscriptions.
If you want to go beyond that $10,000 budget, you have to purchase additional Google Ads through a paid account. In most cases, that $10,000 is more than enough to increase your online presence.
There’s a ton you can accomplish with a smart Google Ad Grants management strategy. Plus, applying for the program means you’ll receive access to free analytics tools like Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager to track ad performance. However, applicants must go through a series of steps to qualify.
How long does it take to apply for Google Grants?
The length of time required to complete your Google Grant application varies based on how ready your organization is. For instance, if you already have a Google for Nonprofits account, you can skip a few steps in the process.
On the other hand, if your website doesn’t comply with Google’s website policy, you’ll need to spend time bringing it up to code before filling out your Google Grant application.
Generally speaking, here’s how long each step takes:
- Google for Nonprofits Account Setup: 0-14 business days
- Nonprofit Verification: 2-14 business days
- Google Ad Grants Pre-Qualification: 2-9 business days
- Google Ad Grants Account Setup: 6-29 business days
- Google Grant Application Review: Approximately 10 business days
For a nonprofit that hasn’t done any preparation before starting, the whole process could take up to 2.5 months. While that seems like a lot of time, we recommend you don’t rush through the Google Grant application process. You want your application approved on the first try, so take care in completing each step properly!
Plus, you can always outsource the work to a professional Google Grants manager. Depending on the agency, they may complete each step for you, including registering your nonprofit with TechSoup. They can help the process go by much quicker since they understand each step thoroughly.
How do I qualify for the Google Grant?
To qualify for Google Grants, your organization must be deemed eligible, have a high-quality website that explains its mission, and be able to comply with the Google Ad Grant requirements on an ongoing basis.
While that sounds like a lot, it’s actually pretty doable. Chances are, your nonprofit already qualifies if it’s registered in your country and has a well-built website. Once you meet the basic requirements, you’ll need to go through a series of steps to apply, which we’ll walk through in the following sections.
Then, to continue meeting the Google Ad Grant requirements, you’ll need to devote time to managing your account and its campaigns. For example, Google requires you to log into your account monthly and make relevant changes at least once every 90 days. Meeting these compliance guidelines will ensure you remain eligible for the program.
Step 1) Meet the Google Ad Grant Requirements.
To qualify for Google Grants, you have to meet a series of basic requirements. If your organization doesn’t meet the criteria, your application will be rejected, which can set your timeline back. Luckily, Google is super clear with the guidelines it expects you to meet.
You can save your team a ton of time by knowing if you’re eligible before walking through the Google Grant application process. So that you know what you’re up against, here’s a rundown of the requirements any applicant is expected to meet, as explained by Getting Attention’s guide to Google Grants eligibility. You’re expected to:
- Be registered in your country and have valid charity status. For U.S.-based nonprofits, that means that you need to have 501(c)(3) status.
- Create a Google for Nonprofits account and be verified by Percent. Not registered? We’ll walk you through how to get started in the next section.
- Not be a governmental entity, hospital/healthcare organization, or academic institution. Google does make some exceptions, though. For instance, charitable arms or foundations associated with healthcare organizations are still eligible.
- Have a secure website with substantial content about your mission. Google implements a website policy that all applicants must follow, which includes owning your domain and securing your site with HTTPS certification.
- Agree to the Google for Nonprofits and Google Ad Grants policies. Some of these policies include not having a discriminatory mission and not promoting political content.
Google puts these standards in place to ensure valid, reputable nonprofits that will benefit from paid advertising receive the grant. Plus, that also means that any ads shown using Google Ad Grants won’t negatively impact the program.
These standards vary based on where your organization is located, so check the official eligibility guidelines for your country before filling out your Google Grant application.
Step 2) Create a Google for Nonprofits Account.
Up next, you’ll need to create a Google for Nonprofits account. This will give you access to the Google Grant application.
If you don’t already have an account, it’s pretty easy to register. Plus, if you already know you meet the Google Ad Grant requirements, then you’ll be eligible for this program, too! Here’s how to get started:
- Visit the Google for Nonprofits registration website.
- Agree to Google’s non-discrimination statements.
- Input your TechSoup or Percent validation token.
- Provide information like your tax ID, non-discrimination policies, and general contact and organization information.
- Agree to be contacted by Google.
- Await a response via email.
Just like signing up for TechSoup and Percent, joining Google for Nonprofits will supply you will tons of perks, like free access to the entire suite of Google Workspace tools. From communication tools to specialized YouTube giving features, you’ll have everything you need to boost internal productivity and strengthen your digital fundraising efforts.
Bottom line: You need a Google for Nonprofits account to gain access to the Google Grant application. Creating an account also gives you access to productivity and marketing tools that will help your nonprofit thrive in the digital space.
Step 3) Wait for Verification From Percent.
To ensure that only legitimate organizations receive the funding, Google implements a verification process. Verification is conducted through a trusted third-party entity called Percent. In addition to helping you access the Google Grant application, registering with Percent also gives your organization a few other perks.
Percent is a charitable commerce platform that lets users donate funds to their favorite causes for free. Users link their credit or debit card to Percent and spend money at their featured retailers. In other words, registering with Percent will allow your enthusiastic donors to give alongside their routine shopping. Plus, registering with percent means you’ll receive discounts and free access to valuable products, like those available through Google for Nonprofits!
When you register for a Google for Nonprofits account, Percent will be the ones to verify your organization. Sometimes, they need some extra information, so watch for any emails from the domain @poweredbypercent.com. Most requests are reviewed within 3-5 business days, but verification can take up to 14 days depending on whether they need more information.
The bottom line: Google works with third-party organizations to verify nonprofits’ validity during the Google Grant application process. Not only is this a necessary step, but registering with Percent can provide valuable discounts and fundraising opportunities.
Step 4) Prepare Your Website for the Google Grant Application.
While you wait for your account to be approved, now is a perfect time to bring your website up to code with the Google Ad Grant requirements. As we mentioned, they have a pretty thorough website policy you’ll need to follow if you want to join the program.
And there’s a good reason for this! Your website is one of the most vital parts of your strategy. It hosts the landing pages that you’ll promote using Google Ad Grants, so you’ll want to make sure it’s prepared to engage any visitors. From eye-catching designs to high-quality content, there’s a lot you can do to bring your website up to speed.
Make sure you own your domain.
This is the most basic requirement your site will need to meet. Per Google Ad Grant requirements, your nonprofit must own the domain users will land on when clicking your ads.
Simply put, your website’s domain is what people will type into the address bar on their browsers to visit your site. If you own your domain, your URL should look something like yournonprofit.org/ instead of yournonprofit.wix.com/. You can easily purchase a domain name through a domain registrar, like Mailchimp or GoDaddy.
If your nonprofit wants to drive traffic to your donation page that’s hosted on a third-party site, Google has some specific rules for that. Your donation form must be hosted on one of Google’s approved donation processors, such as PayPal or Stripe.
Build out your website with high-quality content.
You’re going to promote your site’s content using Google Ad Grants, so their team wants to see that you have a high-quality site with plenty of promotable content. Plus, this will help drive more conversions (e.g., donations, volunteer sign-ups, etc.) when visitors enter your site.
When overhauling your nonprofit’s website design, keep these elements in mind:
- Feature organization-specific information. You’ll need a clear description of your organization, mission, and activities. The most natural place to include this is on an ‘About’ page. If you’re a U.S.-based organization, put your EIN in the footer so that it appears across every page on your site. This signals that your organization is legitimate to the Google Ad Grants team and any other users. Know that displaying your EIN publicly doesn’t pose any security threats. Rather, it helps build credibility and shows that you’re an authorized 501(c)(3) organization.
- Optimize your site for UX. The pages you’ll promote using the Google Ad Grant will drive more results if you offer a user-friendly experience. Start by featuring straightforward navigation, impactful calls to action, and information regarding upcoming events. Then, quicken the site speed, ensure it works well on mobile devices, and remove any broken links. Our guide to nonprofit web design explores layout options and design tips to improve your site’s UX.
- Secure your website with HTTPS. When users land on your site, you want to assure them that your organization is trustworthy. That’s why Google requires that you purchase an SSL certificate to encrypt users’ connections when visiting your website. Websites with SSL certification will include https in the address bar, while those without it only include http. To obtain SSL certification, verify your website’s information through ICANN Lookup, generate a Certificate Signing Request (CSR), submit your CSR to your chosen Certificate authority (like Hubspot), and install the certificate on your website.
Not only are these Google Ad Grant requirements, but they’ll also make sure your website is engaging for any visitor that finds your site organically.
Install Google Analytics
The Google Ad Grant requirements state that you need to have a way to report on results, such as through valid conversion tracking. We recommend that you use Google Analytics.
Not only will this platform provide you with ad-specific metrics, but it can also show you the exact interactions people have on your site. This will give you the power to take charge of your digital marketing performance. By installing Google Analytics, you’ll be able to:
- Set up conversion tracking to track how often goals are achieved.
- See which pages on your site drive conversions.
- Get real-time web performance metrics, such as changes in web traffic.
To get started, sign up for a free account and connect it to your website. Then, you need to configure your account to tell Google Analytics exactly what you want it to track. Add tracking codes to the pages you want to monitor by copying the code the platform provides you. If you use a well-known CMS (like WordPress), plugins usually offer simpler ways to integrate Google Analytics into your website.
Limit commercial and advertising activity.
Google requires all participants to limit commercial activities on their website. Commercial activity can’t be your site’s purpose, whether you’re selling products or services, offering consultations, or providing referrals.
So, if your site resembles a for-profit blog or business, your Google Grant application won’t be approved.
If you do include commercial activity on your site, you must explain how it supports your mission. For instance, let’s say you charge for your services. Somewhere on your site, you must explain how your organization uses funds, such as by disclosing an annual report.
On a similar note, any advertising on your site must relate to your mission and not negatively affect the user experience. You also can’t host Google AdSense ads or affiliate advertising links.
Step 5) Fill Out the Google Grant Application.
Once your Google for Nonprofits account is activated, you’ll have access to the Google Grant application.
To start applying, first verify that your website is secure by logging into your Google for Nonprofits account. Click Get started under Google Ad Grants. Enter your website URL, and click Submit website.
Once your site is verified as being secure, you’ll fill out the eligibility form. This should take around 20 minutes and requires you to submit some basic information about your organization. You’ll answer questions regarding your nonprofit’s mission and goals with the program.
Once you’ve submitted the eligibility form, return to the Google Ad Grants section within Google for Nonprofits. Click the checkbox confirming that you’ve filled out the eligibility form. Hit Submit activation request.
Congrats! You’ve officially applied for Google Ad Grants! The program coordinators will typically get back to you within 3 business days letting you know if you’re approved or not.
Taking your time throughout the application process is a must, but you can also improve your Google Grant application experience by following these tips:
- Avoid entering any payment information. As you apply or when you begin setting up your campaign, you may be prompted to enter your payment details. Ignore this prompt, as it’s not necessary for the program and can actually derail your account setup.
- Keep track of your customer ID number. There will be a 10-digit number in the upper righthand corner that you need to pay attention to. This is your customer ID number, and you’ll need to submit it to Google for review later in the setup process.
- Note Google’s advice and try again if your application is denied. If Google rejects your application, take note of the reasons they give you when they let you know. Use this information to improve your application and try again.
- Get help from a Google Ad Grants agency. This is your best chance to simplify the process, get approved, and make the most of the program. We’ll dive into more detail later in this guide on how a Google Ad Grants agency can help.
If your application is approved, you’ll receive an email with further instructions for activating your account. From here, you can start creating your campaigns and driving qualified traffic to your website through Google Ads.
The bottom line: The Google Grant application is straightforward and doesn’t take long to fill out. You’ll simply fill out a form with information about your nonprofit and the goals you hope to achieve with Google Ad Grants.
Step 6) Follow Google Ad Grant Requirements When Setting Up Your Account
After getting your approval email, you’re ready to set up your Ad Grants account and start your first campaign!
Check out resources like our complete Google Ad Grants guide for tips on how to be successful with the program once you’re approved. No matter how you go about setting up your first campaign, however, be sure to follow Google’s compliance requirements for the following areas as you begin using the program:
- Keyword requirements: Follow the Google Ad Grant requirements carefully when choosing the search keywords you want your ads to appear for. These rules only allow you to choose highly specific, multiple-word keywords with quality scores higher than 2.
- CTR requirements: Throughout your use of the program, your ads must maintain at least a 5% click-through rate (CTR) overall. This metric reassures Google that you’re using their funding effectively, and it allows your organization to make sure you’re creating advertisements that appeal to your audience.
- General program requirements: To keep your Google Grant, you also need to abide by some general program rules, such as filling out Google’s annual survey and keeping your account active by logging in at least once a month. Read through the complete list of these guidelines to make sure you remain in good standing.
Along with maintaining compliance with the Google Ad Grant requirements, continue using Google Analytics as you get started with the program to consistently evaluate your strategy and improve your ads’ approach. This is another area that a qualified Google Ad Grants agency can help you navigate!
The bottom line: Once your Google Grant application is approved, you’ll need to follow all of the program’s requirements to avoid losing your eligibility. As you set up your account and choose your first keywords, make sure you follow all of Google’s rules.
Getting Help With Your Google Grant Application
Getting denied from the program can set your timeline back. You’ll have to work with Google to determine why you don’t meet the Google Ad Grant requirements and resolve any issues. Instead, make sure you get approved the first time by turning to expert Google Grants management.
Choose a Google Grants advisor who fully understands the nuances of how to apply for Google Grants and get your organization approved. We recommend working with a Google Partner, like Getting Attention. Agencies with this title have undergone a certification process and demonstrated a sufficient understanding of the Google Ads platform. Not to mention, outsourcing the work to a trusted professional will allow you to reinvest time into your mission.
Here’s what you can gain from hiring a third-party expert like Getting Attention to handle your Google Grant application and ongoing management:
- Complete every step of applying to the program, from confirming your eligibility to filling out your Google Grant application.
- Stay compliant with the Google Ad Grant requirements and keep your account in good standing.
- Optimize your ads and target the keywords your prospects are searching on Google based on extensive research.
- Stay in the loop with performance with services like reporting and monthly check-ins.
- Get your account reactivated in no time if it ever lapses or gets suspended.
From filling out your Google Grant application to keeping your account compliant, Getting Attention will complete everything you need to get started and make the most of the program. They’ll act as an extension of your team, working with you to understand your broader digital marketing goals and fold Google Grants into achieving those objectives. Working with a Google Partner, in particular, will give you a direct line to the program’s coordinators since your Google Grants manager will be the first to hear about any program updates.
If this sounds like an offer you can’t refuse, reach out to their team to get started. Plus, they’re open to chatting about their expertise in areas other than what’s listed on their website.
Final Thoughts on Google Grant Applications
Applying for Google Grants can take some time and effort, but it’ll ultimately pay off as you transform your marketing strategies and grow your digital presence. Each step in the process is an opportunity to rethink your organization’s image online. In other words, don’t fly through applying!
A certified Google Ad agency like Getting Attention can help you maximize the program’s value by simplifying the application process and championing your cause at every turn. In no time, you’ll be up and running with the program, so you can drive more conversions through paid advertising.
As you wait for your Google Grant application to be approved, dive into all the great things the program offers with these resources:
- Hiring A Google Grants Manager: A Guide & 9 Agencies. Completing your Google Grant application is a lot simpler with an expert on your side. Learn how to partner with a Google Grants agency by reading this guide.
- How to Apply for Google Grants: Get Approved in These Easy Steps. Still confused about how to apply for Google Grants? This guide from Getting Attention shares some more insight!
- Microsoft Ad Grants: An Overview for Your Nonprofit. Microsoft offers a similar program to Google Ad Grants. After filling out your Google Grant application, learn about Microsoft Ads for Social Impact and how it can supplement your Google Grants strategy.