Google for Nonprofits (The Definitive Guide)

By Lisa Hirst Carnes | July 2021

How to Use Google for Nonprofits


If you have a nonprofit organization, you should be aware of Google For Nonprofits, a special feature that offers some great benefits. Not all nonprofits are aware of this suite of services as Google doesn't really promote it.

Websites for Nonprofits

However, it can help you reach a wider audience and increase your donations and memberships. There are even ad grants that provide thousands of dollars worth of Google Ads. In this guide, we'll look at why Google For Nonprofits is such a valuable resource along with some tips on how to get the most out of it.


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Google for Nonprofits

Google For Nonprofits consists of several tools and services designed to help nonprofits reach a wider audience. It includes productivity tools and valuable video resources that make it easier to share your message on YouTube. Google For Nonprofits isn't so much a separate feature but a suite of tools to help nonprofits make better use of existing features.

The most direct benefit comes in the form of ad grants, which provide free Google Ads, a benefit whose value hardly needs to be explained. However, there are also several other important features whether you receive an Ad Grant or not. One reason to explore Google For Nonprofits is that it can introduce you to services you may have overlooked, such as G Suite and Google Earth.

Even during the best of times, a nonprofit has the challenge of attracting donors and attention to their cause. After the chaotic year of 2020, the situation is even more difficult. As many people and organizations face economic hardship, the struggle to attract members and donations is ever more competitive. Google For Nonprofits is a set of tools that can help you adapt and even grow during these turbulent times.

How to Get Started

To become eligible for any of Google's nonprofit services, you first have to request a Google For Nonprofits account. There are some eligibility requirements such as the need to be a charitable nonprofit organization. You'll need to be verified by Techsoup. Government agencies, health organizations, and educational institutions are not eligible. Applications for grants are done on a rolling basis so there are no deadlines to worry about.

Here are the eligibility requirements to get your Google For Nonprofits account application approved:

  • You must be a registered charitable organization based in a country listed in the Google For Nonprofits guidelines.
  • You must also meet specific requirements of the country you’re based in.
  • You must agree to the Google For Nonprofits terms.

To view the other requirements for your country, you can visit this page.

Google Ad Grants

Google offers advertisers the largest potential audience in the world. The Google Ads platform lets you target your audience with precision and lets you reach people in any niche. For this reason, it's a powerful tool for nonprofits looking to boost membership and donations. The main drawback is that Google Ads are quite expensive. Popular keywords can cost several dollars per click, making it difficult for budget-strained organizations to afford. With Google Ad Grants, you can enjoy the perks of advertising without having to reach into your wallet at all.

How Ad Grants Work

Google Ad Grants provide $10,000 per month, or a daily budget of $329, worth of text ads monthly as well as access to tools and resources to help you get the most out of your ads. There are some conditions and limitations that come with ad grants. If you're already familiar with Google advertising, you'll have to adjust your approach to meet these conditions. For example, bids for keywords are capped at $2. This may prevent you from ranking for extremely competitive keywords and phrases. However, it still leaves you with a sufficient budget to bid on many popular keywords.

As with all Google Ads, your ads are assigned a quality score based on factors such as relevance and past performance. This also means that campaigns deemed low quality may be removed. What are the chances of actually receiving a Google Ad Grant? While Google doesn't reveal the odds, they do give away substantial amounts of grant money. Since 2003, Google has given over $9 billion in free advertising to 115,000 nonprofits. Since there's no cost to apply and the process is fairly simple compared to most grant applications, there's nothing to lose by applying.

What kind of results can you expect? Just as businesses and organizations that advertise with Google (or anyone else) have widely differing results, it's impossible to predict what any given campaign will produce. However, many organizations have seen impressive gains. Habitat For Humanity, for example, raised over $284,000 in-kind donations in a year. And, unlike normal advertising, there is no cost so it's a win-win scenario.

How to Apply for Google Ad Grants

After you have successfully applied for a Google For Nonprofits account, you can then apply for the Google Ad Grants program. Simply fill out the application form and submit it.

But remember that your website is an essential part of the process. You must have a well-maintained website that’s of high quality and secure. 

Also, prepare digital marketing campaigns in advance that are beneficial for your organization and cause. 

The application for a Google For Nonprofits account and the Google Ad Grants program go hand-in-hand, so it’s necessary to complete both applications. 

Stay active in monitoring your Ad Grants account for your application status. It may take time for Google to review your application, but set a reminder to check your inbox regularly to accept the Ad Grants invitation once you receive it. This is a free program that can certainly benefit your organization.

G Suite for Nonprofits (Google Workspace for Nonprofits)

G Suite (rebranded as Google Workspace) is used by many businesses and organizations to help with productivity, efficiency, and collaboration. G Suite can be quite valuable for nonprofits and help you make better use of your time. When so many people, including employees and volunteers at nonprofits, are working at home and must communicate remotely, it's more important than ever to have powerful collaborative and productivity tools. G Suite For Nonprofits has the same features as any business can access but at discounted rates. Here's a summary of the plans.

  • Google Workspace for Nonprofits — The basic set of features is free and allows unlimited users to access the account. You also get 30 GB of cloud storage, professional email addresses, and Google Meet video conferencing for up to 100 people.
  • Google Workspace Business Standard for Nonprofits —  $3/month per user. Includes all basic features and 2 TB of yearly storage, more security options, and video conferencing for 150 users with an option to keep recordings of meetings.
  • Google Workspace for Business Plus for Nonprofits —  $5.04/month per user. Includes all Business Standard features and 5 TB of yearly storage. You also gain access to Google Vault to search and export data, more security options, and video conferencing for 250 users with an attendance-tracking feature apart from the option to record the meeting. You will also be able to enable email retention for some users and use eDiscovery. 
  • Google Workspace Enterprise for Nonprofits — You can get more than 70% off/month per user. Includes all Business Plus features plus email encryption, Google Meet live-streaming, video conferencing for 250 people, and Cloud Identity to manage users, apps, and devices.

Now, when we compare the G Suite for Nonprofits pricing to the regular cost for G Suite, we see savings of $4 up to $10 a month. That’s roughly $50 to $120 or more annually. 

The standard or the most basic package of G Suite is not free, unlike the G Suite for Nonprofits.

Benefits of Using G Suite

You can access many of the features included with G Suite, such as Google Calendar, Gmail, and Google Drive, without signing up for G Suite. However, G Suite provides a convenient umbrella that connects these and other services.

  • Even the free version of G Suite gives you a customized email address, which is more professional than an ordinary Gmail address.
  • Anyone can use Google Drive but with G Suite you get additional storage. When you have many people and multiple departments who need to stay in touch and coordinate schedules and tasks. 
  • G Suite is a great tool for organizing, assigning, and collaborating. It's also a good way to onboard new employees and volunteers. Navigators USA uses Google Sheets, a spreadsheets program that's part of G Suite to coordinate members and projects nationally.

G Suite for Nonprofits features are the same as the regular G Suite except for Jamboard. Some education nonprofits organizations have concerns about the exclusion of this feature. Still, this may already be under discussion at Google to include Jamboard in the G Suite for Nonprofits. 

You get free cloud storage for nonprofits with the basic package. Remember that Google Cloud is a more secure storage option compared to Google Drive.

YouTube Nonprofit Program

As YouTube is owned by Google, you get access to some powerful video marketing features with Google for Nonprofits. If you're not using videos to share your messages, you should consider doing so. Videos are one of the best ways to engage your audience emotionally as well as intellectually. Creating videos for nonprofit marketing isn't difficult with today's technology. If you can get additional assistance from Google, so much the better.

What's Included in the Program

YouTube Nonprofit Program features include:

  • Creator Academy lessons aimed at the needs of nonprofits.
  • YouTube Giving features make it easy to fundraise with your videos. Among other things, you can add a donation button directly in your videos. To be eligible for this program, you need a YouTube channel with at least 10,000 subscribers.
  • Linked Anywhere Cards. These are interactive cards that make your videos more interactive. Cards are available to all YouTube channels. However, when you're part of the YouTube Nonprofits Program, you get access to additional features that let you link to unlimited external pages. Thus, you can link to your website, a landing page for an event, your Facebook Page, or anywhere you want.
  • Access to the YouTube Space program. The original plan for this project was to offer video makers actual studio spaces and live workshops. In 2019, physical YouTube Spaces were found in 10 locations including Los Angeles and New York. As live events were mostly discontinued in 2020, most of the features are now virtual. Either way, the program provides a variety of resources, including the opportunity to network with other creators, channels, and organizations in your area.

The YouTube Nonprofits Program helps raise awareness of the many ways nonprofits can leverage video marketing. Whether you're a beginner with videos or have experience in this field, it's worth checking out these tools.

YouTube Giving for Nonprofits

YouTube Giving for Nonprofits replaces the YouTube donation cards that were removed in 2019, and are now implementing the YouTube Giving features. 

Similar to YouTube donation cards, this feature gives viewers the option to donate to the charitable organization supported by the video creator. Through YouTube Giving for Nonprofits, if your organization is the video creator, the donations and support will go directly to you.

One great advantage of this program is that YouTube covers all the transaction fees. The feature is also available for uploaded videos and live streams. 

Google Earth and Google Maps

Google Earth and Google Maps are additional widely used features that Google has tailored for nonprofits. Millions of people use Google Maps to navigate their daily trips. What not everyone realizes is that Google Maps and Google Earth provide advanced mapping and geo-location features such as customized maps, and local context (providing relevant information about places depicted on maps). Nonprofit organizations are involved in projects all over the world. It can be extremely powerful to show website visitors, members, and potential donors up-close views of locations where you're active.

Basic Map features are free. However, the Google Maps Platform provides $200 in credits and charges for additional usage. Google for Nonprofits provides free credits so you and your supporters can use these advanced features. Many organizations are getting great results with Google's Maps and Earth. For example, the Jane Goodall Institute works with animals and environmental issues in various locations such as Africa. They've effectively used Google Earth to showcase specific locations to bring their work closer to home for viewers.

  • Take visitors on a virtual tour of your headquarters or places where you're active. Under current conditions, even your local supporters may not be able to visit these places in person. Google provides instant and high-quality images of places in your neighborhood or on the other side of the world.
  • Create custom maps. My Maps lets you create maps of any location, large or small, that displays locations and data important to your activities.
  • Use donor maps to highlight where your supporters live. A donor map illustrates where your supporters, volunteers, and donors are located.
  • Use Google Maps to find relief and solve problems. For example, FoodFinder uses Google Maps to help food-challenged households find assistance.

Visual data is powerful for motivating people to provide more support. In addition to explaining your activities, a map instantly takes people to the spot. As we move into 2021, travel and live visits to locations are still restricted in many areas. This makes Google Earth and Maps especially valuable for organizations. This is a powerful tool to help you engage with supporters.

Get the Most out of Google for Nonprofits

Google for Nonprofits provides many helpful resources to help your organization grow, engage with your members, and increase donations. Here are some guidelines to help you get the most out of it.

Optimize Your Website

Most of your marketing and fundraising activities involve sending visitors to your website. When you send traffic from Google Ads to a landing page on your site, you have to make sure it's appealing, relevant, and user-friendly. Upgrading your website will help all of your other actions. For example:

  • Fast-loading pages.
  • Responsive and mobile-friendly.
  • Easy navigation.
  • Clear calls-to-action.
  • Compelling images.

Manage Your Google Ads Strategy

If you're fortunate enough to receive a Google Ad Grant, don't get complacent and assume everything will automatically fall into place. You still need to manage your campaigns.

  • Don't limit yourself. As valuable as these grants are, they limit you to text ads. You may want to supplement your text ads with other types of ads, such as image, video, and call-only ads (which entice visitors to call you rather than click on a link).
  • Pay attention to quality and relevance. Google is notorious for suspending accounts, and they can do this with Ad Grant accounts as well. Make sure to keep your keywords relevant to your landing pages. This relates to the above point about optimizing your website. If you do run into problems such as a suspension, you can always contact Google and request a reactivation.
  • Test your results with Google Analytics and other tools. This will help you improve your results, and achieve a higher Quality Score for your ads. Google mandates conversion tracking for Ad Grants.

Integrate Google for Nonprofits into Your Marketing Strategy

Google's resources for nonprofits aren't a replacement for your other marketing and fundraising strategies but an enhancement. You can use these tools to get more out of the platforms and techniques you already use. In some instances, they can introduce you to new areas such as Google Ads or YouTube if you're not yet using these. Either way, it's up to you to identify the optimal strategies for connecting with your audience and use Google's tools to enhance these actions.

Work Productively with Remote Organization Members using Google Apps for Nonprofits

When your nonprofit organization has a remote or hybrid workforce, it’s important that you have a Google For Nonprofits account. You’ll experience the benefits of Google apps, making everyone’s tasks much easier to complete.

You may use Google Meet for video calls and meetings with all your organization’s members. Easily share documents safely and quickly using Google Drive and Google Cloud. Conduct surveys using Google Forms.

There are a lot of things that you can do using the various Google apps that come with G Suite for Nonprofits. And because nonprofits can benefit from discounted  G Suite features, you can allocate more of your budget to other uses or for other tools you need.

There is no downside to using Google for Nonprofits. You have a chance to earn valuable ad credits. Even without this grant, you'll gain access to a variety of educational, productivity, and marketing resources. As a nonprofit in the post 2020 world, you need to seize every opportunity to raise visibility for your nonprofit. Google for Nonprofits can be a valuable resource for helping you adapt and thrive in the coming years.

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1. How much is G Suite for Nonprofits?

The basic Google Workspace or G Suite for Nonprofits package is free of charge. The other packages are greatly discounted when you have a registered Google For Nonprofits account. You can get more than a 70% discount per month per user for all the other packages.

2. How reliable is Google’s nonprofit cloud storage?

Google Cloud Storage is highly reliable and has a significantly better uptime compared to its competitors. This makes Google Cloud for Nonprofits a popular choice for many organizations.

3. Is G Suite free for nonprofits?

The basic package is free for nonprofits. Other packages have big discounts compared to the standard G Suite or Google Workspace packages.

4. Is YouTube for Nonprofits better than Vimeo?

Registering your organization for a Google For Nonprofits account will immediately give you access to YouTube for Nonprofits. And because of the great perks that Google gives nonprofits, it’s highly recommended to use YouTube rather than Vimeo. You’ll need to use ads and fees to earn money from your videos on Vimeo. 

5. Can I use Google Classroom with a Google For Nonprofits account?

G Suite for Education has been rebranded as Google Workspace for Education. Google Classroom is a product included in the Google Workspace for Education account. You will still need to register for a Google Workspace for Education Fundamentals Account to use Classroom.

Topics: Nonprofit Help