How to Apply for the Google Ad Grant in 5 Easy Steps

Google Ad Grant

Most grant applications for your nonprofit are long, complicated, and stress-inducing for your entire development team. Not the Google Ad Grant: Google’s grant for qualifying nonprofits give $10,000 in free in-kind advertising on Google Ads (formerly known as Google AdWords). Per month. Free advertising can be a fantastic source of extra traffic to your website, helping to meet users on their level by answering their questions, all while furthering your organization’s impact. And, unlike most grants, Google grants also have a very simple application process. Here’s how to apply for the Google Ad Grant — in 5 easy steps.

Moby the Whale in a mortarboard pointing at a chalkboard with the Google Ad Grant symbol on it

5-week Cohort

Google Ad Grant Cohort

Learn how to get the most out of your Google Ad Grant

1. Meet the Google Ad Grant eligibility requirements

You must be a nonprofit and hold current valid charity status in your country. In the US, that means that you need to have 501(c)(3) status. Not in the US? Check your country’s definition for charity status.
There are, however, some exceptions. You don’t qualify for the Google Ad Grant if you are a:

  • Hospital or healthcare organization (nonprofits working in the healthcare space, such as lung cancer research or aphasia awareness, still qualify)
  • Government entity or organization
  • School, academic institution, or university (check out Google for Education for its schools program). Philanthropic arms of educational institutions are eligible.

You also must acknowledge and agree to Google’s required certifications regarding nondiscrimination and donation receipt and use — and have a live website with what Google calls “substantial” content.

2. Register your nonprofit with TechSoup and get a validation token

Eligible? Awesome. Next step is to register and validate your organization with TechSoup and acquire your validation token. TechSoup is a nonprofit that partners with corporations, like Google, to help bring technology tools and other resources to nonprofits at a discounted rate. To get started:

  1. Go to the TechSoup registration page
  2. Choose the country your organization is based in and your preferred language
  3. Click New Member, register, and agree to the terms (click to enlarge). In some cases, it may take up to 30 days to be validated and TechSoup may contact you to request additional information or documentation.
    TechSoup Registration Form
  4. Once your organization has been validated, log in and you will be presented with a TechSoup Validation Token that looks something like this: 345c476@YourOrgName. Copy this code and include it in your Google Nonprofits

3. Enroll in Google for Nonprofits

Got your validation token? The next step is to sign up for Google for Nonprofits. You’ll need to have this set up before you can apply for the Ad Grant. Being a Google Nonprofit also gets you other Google perks, including:

  • Special features on Youtube, like a donate button and video annotations that link to your site
  • Free Google apps, like Gmail and Google Drive under your domain
  • Listing on One Today, Google’s mobile fundraising app

To enroll in Google for Nonprofits, you’ll need your tax-id number (or employer ID, EIN) and your TechSoup validation token. From there:

  1. Go to the Google for Nonprofits registration site
  • Agree to Google’s statements about non-discrimination
  • Insert your validation token
  • Fill out your personal contact and organization info and agree to be contacted by Google. Make sure you’re signed in with an email address that you check often (especially if you’re using a shared company email address), since this is where Google will send important announcements about your Google Ad Grant account.
  • Submit and wait for an answer! Google should approve your application within a few days and will send you an email when they do. We’ve seen 95% success with nonprofits we’ve worked with, so unlike other nonprofit grants, this isn’t one you need to lose sleep over.
  • Easy, right? That’s the full Google Nonprofit Program application. But there’s a bit more to do to apply for the Google Ad Grant. Which brings us to…

    4. Apply for the Google Ad Grant

    Once you’re accepted as a Google Nonprofit, you can apply for Google Ad Grants. It’s not really an application, more of a multi-step process — follow the Ad Grant enrollment guide to make sure you’re not missing any steps :

    Log in and create your Google Ads account.

    You can do this as soon as you’re approved for the Google for Nonprofits program:

    • Sign in to your Google for Nonprofits account
    • Click Activate under Google Ad Grants
    • Fill out the eligibility form. This assessment is provided by Google to confirm that your organization meets eligibility requirements, gain a better sense of your goals, and improve your Ad Grant experience.
    • After completing the assessment, return to Google for Nonprofits and navigate back to Google Ad Grants. Click Activate again, and check the box indicating that you have completed the eligibility form.
    • Click Activate one final time to submit your account for review.

    Once Google reviews your account, they will respond with further instructions. Account reviews are usually completed within 3 business days.

    Our best advice? Be patient! But here are a few other tips:

    • When asked, choose the appropriate billing country and time zone for your organization.
    • Once you’re inside your new Google Ad Grant account, make sure to record your customer ID in the top right corner (XXX-XXX-XXXX format).
    • Never enter any credit card info — even if the Ad Grants platform asks for it. Ignore any screens or emails that request payment information. If you do input this info, you’ll be setting up a standard paid account, not a Grant account, and you’ll have to start the whole process over again.
    Moby the Whale in a mortarboard pointing at a chalkboard with the Google Ad Grant symbol on it

    5-week Cohort

    Google Ad Grant Cohort

    Learn how to get the most out of your grant in our five-week cohort. New dates coming soon!

    Once Google gives you the go-ahead, you can start spending up to $329 per day in free Google Ads spending. The application is done, but we would be remiss if we didn’t mention an important last step…

    5. Set up your Google Ads account correctly

    Check out our Ultimate Guide to learn more about how the Google Ad Grant works and how to go about setting up your account from scratch. If you’re more familiar with advertising or the Google Ads platform, you can also follow the expert activation guide and campaign set-up instructions.

    Make sure you’re complying with all of the Ad Grant requirements, including:

    • Logging in and making some change to the account at least once every 2 months (hopefully more!)
    • Have at least one goal set up in Google Analytics so you can measure the impact of Google Ads traffic to your site. Start with this how to set up Google Analytics goals guide.
    • Only send traffic to your website — the domain you applied with
    • Maintain an account-wide 5% clickthrough rate and a keyword quality score of 2 or higher
    • Complete Google’s surveys about the impact of the program (usually at the end of the year)

    Here’s the full guide to Google Ad Grant policy updates. From there, your next challenge is to always be optimizing your ads! Keep working on it over time to improve the account and get even better bang for your (free) buck.