7 Google Ad Grants Dos & Don’ts


Growing your volunteer base.

Increasing the number of donors that support your work.

Raising awareness for important causes such as homelessness and rainforest preservation.

If you work for or run a nonprofit, this is likely music to one’s ears. And Google Ad Grants is making it increasingly possible for organizations like yours to achieve such goals.

But it doesn’t come that easily.

From increasing your likelihood of receiving a grant to generating ads that actually lead to desired conversions once you have the grant, it’s important to understand what to do to improve your chances for success.

That’s why we’re taking some time to dive into seven dos and don’ts every nonprofit professional interested in Google Ad Grants should know.

Ready to dive in? Let’s go!


1: DON’T ignore program policies.

Just because your organization was awarded a Google Ad Grant doesn’t mean you can rest easy and maintain it for however long you would like.

You’ll need to put the intentional time and focus in to understand and adhere to program policies–or you’ll risk suspension.

For example, their policies include requirements such as…

  • Restriction in using single keywords, branded keywords that aren’t affiliated with your own brand, overly generic keywords, or keywords with a quality score of 1 or 2.
  • Maintaining at least a 5% click-through rate (CTR) each month.
  • Responding to the annual program survey.

Additionally, as we discussed in a previous post, Google updates its Google Ad Grants program policies every now and then. Stay in the loop and remain updated and aware of policy changes, which typically come in the form of emails from Google HQ.


2: DON’T use just one ad in a group.

Simply put, marketing is a science. And you’ll be more likely to succeed in marketing when utilizing tests and experiments to determine and achieve ideal results.  

In an effort to improve the performance of nonprofit grant recipient ads, one of the requirements added in when Google updated their Ad Grants policies in January 2018 was to have at least two ads per ad group.

This way, nonprofits would be encouraged to tests ad copy to see what works best in increasing click-throughs to your site.

When creating your ads in an ad group, write separate copy for each and analyze results after a week or so. The easiest way to do this is just to let Adwords optimize for you. The ad with a higher CTR should stay, while you’ll need to swap out the second ad for a new one. There’s also no reason to limit your tests to just 2 ads per group. Test a variety of creative units and update these to reflect the season, current events, and special offers.

With a little time and attention, you will have created a system to continually improve ad performance and get closer to reaching desired goals, whether they be donations or volunteer signups.


3: DON’T forget user experience.

Let’s say you’ve taken all the steps to fully understand and adhere to program policies, and you’ve correctly structured your account and campaigns.

This will likely improve your CTR–which is great.

However, achieving an ideal CTR is only half of it. You’ll have to do more than that to actually see a rise in the kind of conversions that ultimately benefit your organization, such as volunteer signups and donations.

Once visitors click through, you need to direct them to the best pages on your site and offer an effective user experience.

Part of this means ensuring that what you communicate in your ads is consistent with what visitors find on your site. Custom landing pages can make all the difference.

If you promise or hint at something in your ads, make sure that your landing pages connect with and deliver on that promise. For example, if you use a shocking statistic in an ad and a CTA that invites people to learn more, don’t direct people to a simple donate page that lacks information about the cause itself and what your organization is doing to address it. Build a landing page that ties your ad message to your site, and then tell a bigger story.

Additionally, whether it’s raising funds or inviting people to volunteer for a cause, think about how you’re building an experience for the visitors coming to your site based on keywords, ad copy, and targeting.


4: DO consider seasonal keywords.

When selecting keywords, the first things that may come to mind or appear in keyword research are those relating to your cause, whatever it may be.

There’s no doubt these are effective when properly researched and as long as they adhere to policies (i.e., no single keywords, no broad keywords, and keywords with good quality scores).

However, it’s important to consider keywords that could change based on seasonality and events.

As Search Engine Journal explains, “The importance of optimizing for seasonal trends from an SEO standpoint is obvious–it is capitalizing on known increases in search volume for specific time periods.”

From Thanksgiving to Martin Luther King Day, Breast Cancer Awareness Month to Giving Tuesday, there is a wide range of occasions and holidays each month that spur certain searches.

Targeting these searches is a great strategy to increase your CTR during certain periods of the year.

Additionally, if you leverage seasonality and holidays, take this opportunity to make sure the webpages your traffic lands on are adapted to connect with the theme as well.


5: DO use automated rules to maintain a higher-quality standard.

Fortunately, Google has certain tools you can use to ensure you meet their standards and avoid the threat of suspension.

One of them is automated rules.

As Google explains, “Using automated rules can save you time by cutting down the need to monitor campaigns and make frequent, manual changes.”

For example, you can use an automated rule to automatically pause any keywords you’re using that have a quality score of 2 or below.

Or, if you want to boost your keyword bid when an ad drops off the first page of rules, you can set a rule for that.

Making use of these additional tools from Google will help you adhere to policies and save time in the long run.


6: DO consider directing clicks to a targeted landing page.

Here’s an interesting case study: According to HubSpot, Nonprofit Futures Without Violence used Google Ad Grants and found that ads directing traffic to their homepage resulted in a meager conversion rate of…0%.

However, once they created a targeted landing page, they were able to bring their conversion rate up to 12.59%, securing them 1,000 new email addresses.

Consider doing the same for your campaigns. Quality scores and CTR are often affected by the relationship between targeted keywords, ad copy, and content on the landing page.

In the interest of staying relevant, specific, and of interest to your targeted visitors, try using a targeted landing page that continues the specific conversation your ads started.

Make sure your landing pages speak to your mission and contain clear calls to action, whether it be to sign up, donate, or volunteer.  


7: DO manage your account daily.

Contrary to what you may have originally thought, Google Ad Grants is not a set-it-and-forget-it system.

Because program policies have limited account options for keyword bids and which keywords can be used, you’ll need to put time into managing and monitoring your account on a daily basis.

This way, you’ll be able to make sure, for example, your CTR doesn’t dip below 5%, see what kind of ad copy is performing best, and rule out keywords with a low-quality score.

That said, it can be tricky to manage your account and campaigns if you don’t have a good understanding of PPC advertising.