Google Announces Major Modifications to Ad Grants: What Does This Mean for Your Nonprofit?

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At the end of 2017, Google announced substantial modifications to the Google Ad Grants program. Some of the changes offer nonprofits an incentive to leverage their Google Ad Grants, which can be worth up to $10,000 monthly. Nonprofits need to come into compliance by March 1, 2018, to continue to qualify for the program. Here are the most important changes to be aware of.

Cameron Ripley, CEO of Community Boost

What to look out for:

  • Maximize Conversions Bidding Strategy: Google Ad Grant recipients can now bid above the $2.00 cost per click limit by taking advantage of what is called the “Maximize Conversion Bidding Strategy.” This change in policy will empower more nonprofits to increase the quality of conversions that can move the needle on online revenue. This new strategy requires nonprofits to setup analytics linking and goal creation before being able to use this new strategy.
  • Achieve Above a 5 Percent Click-Through Rate:  Google Ad Grant recipients must have a click-through rate (CTR) of 5 percent or higher or the Google Ad Grant will be deactivated. If your nonprofit’s account falls below this threshold for two consecutive months, Google could deactivate your nonprofit’s account. Staying above that 5 percent rate can be achieved by pausing underperforming ads and keywords.
  • Mandatory Survey Response: As a Google Ad Grant recipient, your nonprofit’s response to a survey that will be emailed to you from Google is required as a condition of your participation to maintain your grant. Be sure to keep a look-out for an email from Google, and respond to the survey as soon as possible. Failure to respond by 03/01/2018 will temporarily suspend your nonprofit’s AdWords account until the survey is completed.
  • Two Ads per Ad Group: A longstanding priority for marketers is to test various ad copies to benchmark and see what message resonates with the audience. Nonprofits are now required to test these variables as well as to keep in mind the importance of optimizing well-performing ad creative.

How the changes impact nonprofits:

  • Nonprofits Need to Understand Which Campaigns Are Driving Results: The new requirement for the 5 percent minimum CTR is prompting many nonprofits to understand key metrics in AdWords. Metrics like click-through rates show the quality of your account and the relevance of the keywords you are bidding on. Keeping a close eye on this also ensures that nonprofits are extremely aware of what keywords they are bidding on and what types of search terms are generating clicks.
  • Nonprofits Need to Track Conversions and Measure Online Goals: Being able to take advantage of Maximum Conversion Bidding Strategy and generate clicks for more than $2.00 is certainly exciting, however, it is only available to nonprofits that have set up conversion tracking. This will require nonprofits to link their AdWords account to Google Analytics and take the time to see what tangible goals can be made through both Analytics and AdWords, for example: tracking donations through thank you pages or calls. This will encourage nonprofits to link Analytics and have a strong understanding of what goals they are looking to achieve with both AdWords and as an organization.

What to do next:

So, what now? There are a few items that require nonprofits to take action as soon as possible in order to remain activated. Here is a list of some low hanging fruit and bigger tasks that we recommend taking the time to complete. If you are not entirely familiar with AdWords in the first place, we recommend going through Google’s Academy to help jump start your learning.

  • Take the required Google for Nonprofit survey by March 1st, 2018.
  • Add any conversion goals as goals in Analytics and import them to AdWords. This way you can see how goals are being met through the AdWords account and how goals are being met sitewide.
  • Once you have Analytics linked and goals imported, you can start bidding above the $2 cost per click for the most important goal.
  • The easiest way to adhere to the 5 percent click through rate is to pause any underperforming ads and keywords.
    • If there are any keywords that are crucial for you to bid on that have an underperforming CTR, we advise pausing the old one. Then you should ensure your landing page has those words on it. Consider writing a blog post on the topic! Then, at that time, add the keyword, reset that momentum, write a very specific ad, and send people to the landing page that best reflects this search.

Some nonprofits will be challenged at first by these changes, particularly the requirement of a 5 percent click-through rate. But each change presents a challenge and an opportunity for nonprofits to think more strategically about how they are marketing their services through the Google Ad Grants program. At the end of the day, these changes will help nonprofit recipients of Google Ad Grants to be more successful.


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