Google Ad Grants for Nonprofits

You may be a nonprofit with an amazing team, a fiery spirit, and an important mission, but it’s likely you don’t have the necessary funds to create the kind of advertising you need to be seen. You’re like a fisherman out on the ocean, catching a few tuna with a single pole, while for-profit enterprises sail by you with casted nets, reeling fish in by the dozen.

Putting the visuals aside—what if there was a mechanism that leveled the playing field? What if your operation could compete for attention?

Enter: Google Ads.

Google Ads may be the commercial trawler you need to hook donors and volunteers to your cause. Ahoy—let’s dive in. 

How Does Nonprofit Advertising Work?

At the heart of it, nonprofit advertising is an appeal. In contrast to a business marketing strategy—which is about monetary growth, gaining subscribers, or creating a sellable brand—nonprofit advertising relies heavily on the ethos. You want a clear but emotional message that helps your audience understand why they should care about your mission and how they can make a difference. 

Nonprofit advertising generally strives to achieve three major goals in its messages to the public:

  • Spread the organization’s mission
  • Call for volunteers
  • Solicit donations

There are three popular methods to achieve these goals in nonprofit advertising:

  1. Point-of-Sale campaigns request donations when a potential donor is making a purchase. For example, if a potential donor is purchasing a hat that supports your organization’s message, you can request an extra $5 that will go towards your cause.
  2. Transactional campaigns center around the partnership between your nonprofit and a corporate donor. The corporate donor urges your audience to use their purchasing power to fund your mission. You benefit from their amplification, and they benefit from the publicity that comes with aligning themselves with a nonprofit.
  3. Message-Focused campaigns often combine with popular news events and trends. These are directives that call on audiences to change their behavior or spending, in order to drive awareness of your cause. These messages can appear anywhere, especially on social media, and promote fundraising and volunteer participation.

How Do Google Ads Support These Efforts?

First off, what are Google Ads? 

Essentially it’s a marketing method nonprofits can employ where you pay to rank at the top of Google search queries. You can bid on certain keywords that relate to user searches; then, your nonprofit appears in the top three to five search results.

What does this look like in action?

Say you’re an animal shelter, and you need more adoptions because your shelter space is limited. You might bid on the keyword “dog adoption near me” or “pet adoption in Santa Fe” in hopes that a nearby local searches one of those phrases and ends up on your nonprofit’s website.

Again, though, you’re bidding against other teams’ budgets. If you don’t have the resources, you may get outbid and remain invisible.

That’s where the Google Ads Grant comes in.

At $10,000 of Ads power per month, Google’s Ad Grant falls somewhere between a transactional and message-focused campaign.

What is a Google Ad Grant?

A Google Ad Grant is an opportunity set forth by Google that gives qualified organizations $10,000 per month to create Google ads. Most nonprofits are able to qualify for the grant; there are only three major certifications:

  • Have a valid, current status as a charity (A 501(c) status)
  • Maintain a functional website with current links and clear mission statements
  • Agree to Google’s use terms for their text-based ads

Once you know you qualify for these three points, you’re ready to get your application started. 

Google’s ads have proven to be extremely effective; some have reported four times as many search results appearing from Google Ads than from other ad sources like social media. This makes sense when you think of users finding your nonprofit through related searches, rather than competing on an ad-heavy social media platform like Facebook.

google adwords

How should I use my Google Ad Grant?

A Google Ads Grant is not just about the $10,000 per month you receive. Your input reflects your output when it comes to these ads, and there are some guidelines that can help you make the most of Google’s offer:

  • Make sure you spend your monthly $10,000 wisely. Google does not allow accounts to spend more than $329 on a daily budget.


  • Keep your max cost-per-click (CPC) to $2. This can be tricky when high-traffic keywords are around $6, so be prepared to get creative and use keywords with longer phrases. Google’s autocomplete and related searches can give you inspiration. 


  • Remember your ads will only appear on, and will be text-only ads, in accordance with its terms. All ads must link back to your nonprofit’s website.


  • Keep your ads relevant. One of Google’s terms requires that the promotions must reflect your nonprofit’s mission. You can’t offer products unless the proceeds go to the cause.


  • Use all the tools Google is offering to optimize your ads, like their Broad Match Modifier. These tools will certify that your chosen keywords don’t get lost in the shuffle and give you the most visibility to searchers.


  • Log into your Google Ad Grants account often. Your account needs diligent tweaking, and accounts that are not active run the risk of being frozen or shut down from disuse. 

Streamline Your Google Ad Grant with Puzzle Pieces

At Puzzle Pieces, we believe marketing isn’t just advertisement; it’s an experience that allows your audience to tune into the story of your nonprofit. We create ads that pop and enable a deep communication between you and your potential volunteers and donors. 

So let Puzzle Pieces be the captain of your ship. Whether it be managing a Google Ad Grant, setting up your Google Ads account, or another service—Puzzle Pieces Marketing will craft masterful advertising that never sinks: only swims. 


Investopedia. Nonprofit Marketing.

Nonprofitpro. How Long Do Google Ad Grant Applications Take?,the%20process%20is%2021.4%20days.

Google Ad Grants. How It Works.

Nptechforgood. 12 Things Non-Profits Need to Know About Google Ad Grants.

Wordstream. Quick Guide to Google Grants: Google Ads for Nonprofits.

IRS. Exemption Requirements – 501(c)(3) Organizations.