Google Ad Grants Policies: $10,000 Free Per Month, But There Is A Catch (Sort Of)

We are major advocates for Google Ad Grants. In fact, we love them! However, many nonprofits wrongly believe that they can simply apply for a Google Ad Grant account, throw up a few ads and sit back and relax. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

“Imagine what you could do with $10,000 USD of in-kind advertising every month from AdWords, an online advertising solution from Google. You could recruit more volunteers. Attract more donations. And share your story with audiences all over the globe. It’s all possible with Google Ad Grants.”

While Google does offer $10,000 per month in free advertising dollars to eligible nonprofits every single month, it isn’t a one-and-done setup process. In fact, maintaining your Google Ad Grants account can become nothing short of a full time job for a nonprofit that doesn’t understand the ins and outs of Google search advertising.

Recent change to the Google Ad Grants policies is making it even more difficult for nonprofits without a dedicated ad manager to maintain their accounts. Let’s take a look at some of the Google Ad Grants policies and how they may affect your ability to maintain your free ad budget.

Google Ad Grants 5% CTR Requirement

This is by far the most talked about requirement of the Google Ad Grants policies update. Following the Ad Grants overhaul, Google now requires that nonprofits maintain a 5%+ click through rate (CTR). This means that at minimum, 5% of all those who see your ad must click it. If you fail to meet this requirement for two consecutive months, Google may suspend your account and remove the in-kind $10,000 donation. This means your campaigns will stop running and you must go through the process of having your Google Ad Grants account reinstated.

Why is this a big deal? As many ad managers already know, click through rates can fluctuate significantly. If you are not closely monitoring your efforts, adjusting your strategy and optimizing your ad text, this can lead to a quick downward spiral in nonperforming ads and ultimately a CTR that will not meet Google’s requirements.

What can you do? Monitor your ads closely. Adjust your strategy to ensure that you are targeting appropriate keywords and that your ad text is compelling.

Ad Grants Campaign and Ad Group Structuring

Google wants nonprofits to take the time to fully utilize the power of Google search ads. Therefore, Google Ad Grants accounts must have at least 2 ads per ad group and at least 2 ad groups per campaign. Likewise, Google wants you to invest in building out your campaign structure with at least 2 ads per ad group, leading to relevant landing pages and set the ad rotation to Optimize. This setting optimizes your ads for each individual auction using signals like keyword, search term, device, location, and more.

Is this starting to sound a little daunting? For an ad account to run smoothly, time and energy must be spent building the campaign to fully reach its maximum potential. This means spending time structure campaigns correctly AND creating appropriate landing pages for each ad group.

Likewise, Google does require that you have at least 2 sitelink ad extensions. Sitelinks can help improve CTR and ultimately help with priority one (maintaining that 5% CTR!)  You may add sitelinks at the account level so the same appear across all of your ads, or you can tailor them at an ad group level.

Other Google Ad Grants Policies to Consider

  • Your ads will be entirely text-based (no videos or images).
  • They’ll appear only on Google search results pages, in positions below the ads of paying advertisers.
  • All campaigns must be keyword-targeted.
  • Your maximum cost-per-click (CPC) will be $2.00 USD unless you utilize Smart Bidding.
  • No keywords with quality score 1 or 2 permitted.
  • You MUST respond to your annual Google Ad Grants survey or lose your in-kind monthly marketing donation.

With a little research, time and more time, you can have your Google Ad Grants account running like a well-oiled machine.


Aren’t sure where to start, struggling to maintain optimal CTRs, left feeling exhausted sifting through Google help document, Gogo Business Development Services would love to help manage your Google Ad Grants account. Just give us a shout and we would be more than happy to walk you through the process.