use your voice

5 Ways a Non-Profit Can Use a Google Ad Grant

By Andrew Foster

With #GivingTuesday just around the corner, I wanted to take the opportunity to share some pro-bono insight into Google Ad Grants and how non-profits can leverage them to enhance their lead generation and ultimately score some free advertising.

Google Ad Grants are available to qualifying non-profits and provide $10,000/month in Google advertising.

Let’s start with a couple of working definitions.


What are Google Ads?

Search ads, Google ads or what is also known as AdWords, are promotions put in place to appear above organic Google search results. They are a paid-for source of additional traffic that populate for users looking for specific products or services.


What Exactly are Impressions, and Why Do I Need Them?

Impressions in the context of digital marketing is when an ad is displayed – and can be quantified. It does not, necessarily, have a specific action associated with it. For example, an ad does not need to be clicked on or otherwise interacted with by a consumer to be counted as an impression.

Each time an ad appears on Google, in any capacity, it is counted as an impression.

In some instances, only a section of an ad may be shown – but if it was generated on the search engine results, it would still count as an impression. An example of this would be in Google Maps, where only a business name and location or only a business name and the first line of an ad is typically displayed.

Other instances where an ad may partially display – or partially be searched for – but still count as an impression would be when users start typing in the search bar and before they complete their search they click somewhere on the page that is auto-populating in the background as they type.

The rule of thumb is this: If a person stops typing long enough – Google defines ‘long enough’ as a minimum of three seconds – and the results on the page include an ad, that counts as an impression to that ad.

So, why are impressions important?

Impressions are the eyeballs everyone wants. Whether it is a few seconds or a visitor clicks on, or – and this is what a good ad will do – completes the call-to-action, impressions are the raw data points of how many people were put in front of a specific piece of content. In this instance, an ad.


How Non-Profits Can Use Google Ads – and Get $10,000/Month From Google to Use Them

Google ad campaigns can be expensive. Trust me, I’m running several of them simultaneously for clients on a regular basis. (Here is a case study example of what I’m talking about.)

But non-profits have a unique opportunity to get to do all of this for free, and it’s through Google Ad Grants.


5 Ways a Non-Profit Can Use a Google Ad Grant:


1.      To drive donation support

The more your ad appears in tandem with organic Google search results, the more people will be aware of your organization, and cause. For non-profits, that can ultimately lead to more donations and more volunteers, which can mean more impact.


2.      To increase the number of website visitors

A lot of the non-profits I’ve been lucky enough to work with or organically find on my own have some pretty amazing stories to tell. As a digital marketer you won’t frequently hear me say I like websites that just have a lot to say – I’m all about driving visitors to take a specific action – but with that said, sometimes the most powerful part about non-profits are solely in their stories.

More visitors mean more people to share the story with.


3.      To enhance email subscribe lists

I have learned one of the marketing tools non-profits make the most use of is emails. They love to be able to get their events, their successes and their current fundraising efforts in front of the people who already know them and have opted in for those kinds of updates.

Email campaigning like this is a great way to nurture the leads being brought into the organization, but it can also serve a non-profit on a multitude of other levels, including in their social media marketing efforts.


4.      To create a general lead gen funnel

The biggest thing Google Ad Grants does for non-profits is function as a continuous source of new leads – new impressions – for the organization. This can mean more volunteers, more people of those impacted by the efforts of the organization, more people to help, more people to give – more people. And more of the right people.

The relevancy and continuous nature of Google Ad Grants in lead generation is key.


5.      To create awareness

Instead of explaining this, I’m going to use an example I’m really proud of. Foster Ideas worked with Safe Kids Georgia to promote a car safety guide to people searching in Google for things like, ‘safest car seat’ and ‘how to prevent SIDS.’

In one year of using Google Ad Grants, we drove 17,000 free visitors to the website. And in turn, we helped prevent life-threatening injuries and helped parents keep their kids safe.

That’s the power of Google Ad Grants for non-profits – the ability to populate information in front of the people who need it most.


The Catch

The thing with Google Ad Grants and non-profits is that most non-profits are not equipped or know what to do once all of this great stuff starts to happen.

The biggest mistake I’ve seen non-profits make when it comes to their Google Ad Grants is that they actually end up losing the grant because they do not actively maintain the ad accounts, or they get disqualified because of poor account set up in the first place. That means they most likely bid the wrong keywords, they created low quality ad copy or they didn’t know what to do with the website visits once they got people there.

Google outlines some specific criteria non-profits need to meet in order to qualify and remain eligible for Google Ad Grants. Read the complete list here.

The Google Ad Grant is worth $10,000 a month of free in-kind advertising. Trust me when I say, there is so much that can be done with a grant of this size – if managed properly.


Closing Thoughts: Contact Me

If you are a non-profit and you are interested in maximizing your current marketing budget and utilizing amazing tools and money available to you, like the Google Ad Grant, please reach out to me. I would love to partner with you and help market your cause.

Cheers to a happy and healthy season of giving!


About Andrew Foster, Customer Acquisition & SEM Consultant at Foster Ideas

Andrew specializes in customer acquisition using search engine marketing (SEM). He spearheads customer acquisition campaigns from strategy to execution, from small businesses to startups. Specifically, Andrew specializes in Google AdWords and Bing Ads as well as paid social media on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Foster Ideas was founded nearly five years ago and has managed over $10 million in ad spend. Foster Ideas is a Google Partner and member of SEMPO.

To learn more about Andrew and Foster Ideas, go to