Everything You Need To Know About Google Ads Grant Accounts

Demi Newlands 06/12/2022 6 minutes

Google Ads grant accounts give charities and non-profit organisations the chance to advertise on Google at no cost. In this guide, we’re going to talk about everything you need to know about getting set up and taking advantage of this fantastic marketing tool. 

What Is a Google Ads Grant Account?

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising is a great way to get your site to the top of the search results page and increase your site’s traffic. The Google Ads grant scheme offers $10,000 of free search advertising on the Google Ads platform to qualifying charities and non-profits — the same platform where thousands of businesses worldconversion trackiwide spend millions every year. By running this type of activity, your organisation is exposed to a variety of benefits including:

  • Taking advantage of user data
  • Gaining insights into industry trends
  • Remaining competitive in a crowded market 
  • Complement any other online/offline marketing campaigns
  • Increase brand awareness and visibility
  • Complement SEO strategies 
  • Get more donations and/or sign ups etc. 

Google Ads Grant Requirements

To apply for the Google Ads grant scheme you must be an eligible non-profit, charitable organisation. In the UK, organisations must be registered with the charity regulator — in England and Wales (Charity Commission), Northern Ireland (NICC), or Scotland (OSCR) — or HMRC as charitable tax-exempt charities or churches. 

An organisation cannot apply for a grant account if it is a government entity, a hospital or healthcare organisation, a school, an academic institution or a university. 

To see the full list of countries that can apply for a grant account, along with the eligibility requirements for each country, click here

Are there any restrictions I need to know of?

Yes. In January 2018, Google tightened up its regulations for charities as part of a wider effort to improve the relevancy of its adverts to users. Charities must remain vigilant about the campaigns and activity within a Google grant account to ensure they don’t contravene the new guidelines and have their account revoked. 

These new regulations include: 

  • Ad grants must have a specific location targeting
  • All campaigns must feature at least two ad groups
  • All ad groups must feature at least two active ads 
  • There must be sitelink ad extensions across all campaigns 
  • The Click Through Rate (CTR) must remain above 5% 
  • The account has to be logged into at least once a month 
  • A change in the account must be made every 90 days 
  • There is a $2 bid limit in place 
  • You cannot target single keyword terms such as ‘charities’ (except owned brand names) 

What Activity Should I Run in my Google Ads Grant Account?

We recommended using your Google Ads grant account to target the key areas within your business. For example, if getting event registrations is a priority, you can create dedicated campaigns for the events you’re hosting and target relevant keywords with search volume. 

When deciding what to advertise, the first step is to look at your business model and ask yourself what your visitors are gaining by visiting your site. Are your users looking for support and information? Or are they looking to make a donation and support your charity? Or, is it both? 

PPC targets transactional and informational keywords

Transactional Queries – searches performed by users who are typically looking to make a donation to either a specific charity or make a generic charitable donation. 

If your goal is to get more donations or event registrations, make sure that your keywords are relevant and that your ad copy is giving users a reason to help fund your charity. It can often be hard to target these sorts of terms on a grant account due to lots of competition and grant account limitations (such as the $2 bid limit). 

However, try to think of any other keywords you can target instead, such as less broad, longer tail keywords (e.g. “donate to cancer Christmas appeal”) or any alternative keywords/strategies you could use. For example, if a celebrity is involved in your event or appeal, investigate the search volume for their name along with a relevant search term to help drive additional traffic. 

Informational Queries – broader searches performed by users who are looking for support, information or volunteering opportunities etc.

Targeting these terms are great for increasing brand visibility and are often cheaper than the transactional type queries. If you’re looking to offer information, note that users often search when they don’t know the answer to a question – targeting ‘question like keywords’ such as “what do I do…” or “why is…” is a great way to engage users and increase click-through rate. Additionally, if you’re simply looking to increase brand awareness, be sure to target descriptive keywords that are relevant to your charity. 

I’m a Charity/Non-profit Organisation, Should I Also Run a Paid Google Ads Account? 

Google grant accounts are an incredibly powerful resource to use; however, it’s important to note that grant and Paid Google Ads accounts operate very differently, with their own sets of rules and functions. Google grant recipients are allowed to run a paid and grant Google Ads account side by side and we strongly recommend this to our clients in order to cover all bases and create a powerful marketing strategy. 

When creating a paid media strategy for grant accounts, it is inevitably focused on Google search ads. When you also have the ability to use a paid account, not only can you increase brand awareness and double down on those premium keywords, but you can also look to explore other areas of PPC that help to enhance the overarching strategy. 

What Are the Benefits of a Paid Account? 

  • Uncapped CPCs – unlike the Google grant account where there is a $2 bid limit, you can increase your bid as much as needed on the paid account, allowing you to be more competitive and reach those optimal positions on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)
  • Unlimited budgets – you’re no longer capped to a $10,000 monthly budget and have total control over spend
  • Run additional types of activity and campaigns – you’re no longer just limited to search ads and can set up campaigns such as Performance Max which allows you to show ads across Display, YouTube, Gmail and Discover
  • Remarketing activity – target people who have already shown an interest on your site and not made an action e.g. someone who visited the donation page but didn’t complete a checkout 

Our Top Tips for Running a Google Grants and Paid Account

  1. Use data you already have

If your Google charity grant account has been active for a long period of time, before activating your paid account you should have access to lots of rich data. This could include:

  • What activity works and what doesn’t
  • How your keywords are performing and if there are any keywords you don’t need to target in the paid account (because you can do so for free in the grant account)
  • How well the copy in your ads resonate with users

This gives you a great advantage when deciding what activity to make live in your new account. 

If your grant account is active but you haven’t yet set up a paid account, use this time wisely to run tests to help your future self make decisions based on actual data. 

  1. Check your tracking is set up correctly

Ensuring that your conversion tracking is set up correctly is vital in order to accurately measure success. For example, if lead generation is the main goal, ensure that all contact form successful completions are being tracked. Or, if donations are the most valuable conversion type, ensure that they’re pulling into Google Analytics correctly and can be attributed back to the right sources (e.g. PPC). 

  1. Test your budget 

How much money you should set aside for paid advertising depends on your business, your objectives and ultimately, your budget. As a starting point, we typically recommend a minimum budget of around £500 to be able to accurately test and be competitive in auctions. Once some more data is available, you can then make some more detailed recommendations for the next steps including how much more you could be spending to maximise impression share. 

The world of PPC is an ever-changing landscape, but one that is shifting towards a heightened sense of automation. Our team of PPC experts will work with you closely to apply for Google Ads grants, manage the account and report on success. Get in touch to imagine better results for your charity.