Google Ad Grants: Simple Tips for Success

By Ilia Jones | March 2022

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At ArcStone, we recommend that every nonprofit we work with take advantage of the Google Ad Grants program. The Ad Grants program awards $10,000 per month in advertising for qualified nonprofits. That's a lot of free ads! 

However, if you're not savvy with how Google Ads work or you don't know the tips and tricks to get the most out of your Google for Nonprofits account, you may be missing out.

Register for Google for Nonprofits

If you haven't already, register your organization for Google for Nonprofits. In order to qualify, your U.S.-based organization must be a registered 501(c)(3). Simply follow the steps in the application process and submit. 

If you don't have a valid Google account or Gmail address, you will need to create one to apply using a non-Gmail email address. 

You may need a Tech Soup validation token as part of the application and verification process. This can often be the most time-consuming part of the application. But it is essential as many companies use this validation to establish trust that your organization is legitimate. Your Tech Soup validation token will look something like: 245d476@YourNonprofitName, be sure to include it in your Google application form.  

Once you've applied, you may have to wait a couple of days or even weeks to be approved and gain access to your Google for Nonprofits account. Don't worry. The wait is worth it!

Apply for A Google Ad Grant

Once you've been approved for a Google for Nonprofits account, it's time to apply for your ad grant. Complete the necessary information in Google for Nonprofits, making sure to document and record your Customer ID number so you have it for future reference.

As you're completing the application, be sure not to enter any credit card information. Entering a credit card or payment information will transition your application to a paid Google Ads account, and you'll have to start the application process over again. 

Setting Up Your Google Ads Account 

There is more to getting started than application forms. Once you've been approved and are ready to get started, remember to take the time to set up your Google Ads account. There are a few features and security protocols that are helpful to have in place, so get those set up so you can get to work with peace of mind. 


In particular, it's best practice to set up a secondary email address that can be used as a backup or recovery contact in case the primary email address is lost, or the account is compromised. The secondary account should also have admin privileges, so they can restore your privileges if something goes wrong. Another security best practice is to establish two-factor authorization. Google refers to this as 2-step Verification. This extra step helps secure your account by validating your login beyond an email address and password. 

You can also establish Managers of the Google Ads account and specify domains that are allowed, such as or 

Budgets and Thresholds

Just because Google is giving you free ad money doesn't mean you should fail to use it wisely. Monthly thresholds can be set up not to go over your allotted amount for all your active campaigns. You can also set an average daily budget for your campaigns. This can prevent you from overspending on particularly successful ads. 

Create Effective Ads 

Once you're all set up and ready to create your ads, it's time to start strategizing on how to create ads and organize them so that you can track what success looks like.

Structure Your Ads

Rather than having one ad to reach all of your audience, it can help to take a more systematic approach. So, rather than a blanket statement, try parsing your message down for more impact. For example:

Instead of: Free Books for Kids

Try: Free Books for Preschoolers, Free Books for Kids, or Donate to Give Free Books to Kids 

These variations on a theme will help to reach a more segmented audience. According to our example, your target audience may be daycare workers or mothers with young children. Your next audience may be moms of elementary school children or aunts, uncles, or grandparents. Finally, your last audience may be librarians or teachers who want to give back. 

Create Compelling Ads

Your ad copy needs to convey a powerful message in very few words. It may take some time to find the right way to phrase what you are trying to get across, so it can help to take the parameters of Google's ads and wordsmith a few options for each ad you plan to run. 

Our tips:

  • Be concise
  • Use powerful or emotional words
  • Convey a sense of urgency
  • Include a call to action

As you are experimenting, you can even use A/B testing as you're getting started to see which version of each ad gets better results. 

Choose Keywords Wisely

Even the best-written ad won't gain traction if you aren't applying the right keywords to it. As you explore the options suggested by the Keyword Planner, it can help to think of what you may type into Google's search bar to find an organization like yours.

Google automatically applies variations to the keywords you suggest, so don't worry about getting the grammar right or adding too much information. 

Don't Forget Google Workspace!

Google Workspace is provided to nonprofits who qualify for the Google for Nonprofits program at no cost. The applications included in Google Workspace are not only helpful but may allow you to cancel paid application subscriptions for similar products. For example, suppose your organization is paying for Microsoft Word but only needs the basic word processing functionality. In that case, Google Docs may be a fantastic and free alternative. 

Google Workspace for Nonprofits includes:

  • Gmail
  • Meet
  • Calendar
  • Drive
  • Docs
  • Sheets
  • Slides
  • Chat
  • Forms
  • Sites
  • Currents

Google Workspace also allows you to easily access your Google for Nonprofits and YouTube for Nonprofits accounts.  

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Prepare Your Nonprofit for Success

With all of the features, apps, and tools that Google Ad Grants and Google for Nonprofits offers, it's common to feel lost in the weeds a bit at first. However, with some practice and experimentation, your nonprofit will undoubtedly see success. 

Topics: Nonprofit Help

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