Regardless of your association’s size, an extra $10,000 every month to spend on advertising to potential members or partners would come in handy. Google’s Ad Grants program for nonprofits does offers exactly that. To receive the grant, you simply fill out a couple of short forms on their website and then wait to be approved. The grant money can be used as credit to advertise to 3.5 billion daily searchers through Google AdWords.
Here’s how this grant will help your association. Once you sign up and are approved, your ads will show up in search results on Google’s search platform. That means when people search for things relating to your association, your ads will be front and center, drawing them in, enticing your audience to click on the link for your ad. This is great for driving traffic to your website or even creating awareness of your cause! Google then applies the cost of that click to your $10,000 monthly credit until the money is exhausted. At the beginning of each month, the total is reset and a new $10,000 is credited to your AdWords account.
You can use the advertising for any purpose related to the association. You can create ads to drive traffic to your membership sign up page. Or you can promote your latest conference or event to members or potential partners. You can even drive legislators or the public to the advocacy pages on your website and influence policy. As long as you are promoting your association and its nonprofit interests, Google is generous with the monthly ad spend.
The Google Ad Grant sign-up process can be tricky to complete, but the following should give you a solid foundation for how to apply for your first grant.
First, you must create a brand-new Google account for your association. The new account must be an @gmail.com address. Try using your association name @gmail.com so it’s easy to remember.
Once you have your new Google account verified, go to www.google.com/nonprofits. You must first register as a Google Nonprofit partner before you can apply for any grants. Once you reach the Google Nonprofits page, click on the blue ‘Start Now’ button in the upper right corner.
This brings you to the eligibility page. Your association needs to meet certain criteria for the grant:
1) be a charitable organization (501(c))(3)) in good standing with the IRS and
2) Not one of the following: Governmental entity or organization, Hospital or health care organization, or School, childcare center, academic institution, or university (although philanthropic arms of educational organizations are eligible)
If your association is a registered charity and not in one of the ineligible categories, click on the blue ‘Apply to Google for Nonprofits’ button below the eligibility requirements.
You should be taken to the Google Nonprofits Membership Application page. Check all the boxes that apply (you need to check all the boxes for your application to be accepted), enter your association’s EIN (if you don’t know it, you can search for it here, and fill out the captcha. If your association doesn’t have a Google Nonprofit account already associated with that EIN, you will fill out the rest of the application on the next page. Just follow the instructions specifically and then click on Submit Application at the bottom of the page.
Google will now check if your association has charitable status and is eligible to be a nonprofit partner. Most times this will be a quick check and your application will be approved immediately. If there is a question about eligibility, for example a foundation for a school or you have ties to a government agency, the application could take a few days. Once you are approved, you will receive an email in your new Gmail account telling you that you are approved and that you can apply for an Ad Grant.
To apply for a Google Ad Grant, click on this link.
The ‘AdWords account creation guide for Google Ad Grants’ page lays out the exact steps you need to take to secure your association’s free $10,000 per month AdWords budget. Google requires that you set up a new AdWords account in a specific way to process your grant application correctly. All the specifics are explained on this Guide page.
First, click on the blue ‘Get Started’ button under Step 1 of 4 and a new tab will open, taking you to the AdWords set up screen. Follow the Guide’s steps exactly, paying close attention to the currency (must be US), the specific steps to get up your campaign, how to set up your ads and keywords, and not setting up billing. If you accidentally set up your billing inside the new AdWords account, you must start this entire process over again as that cannot be undone. When you are finished, Google will send you an email welcoming you to your new AdWords account.
Once you have completed your AdWords setup exactly as Google explains in the guide, you are ready to submit your AdWords account for the grant. Go to your Google Nonprofit home. Once on the page, find the Google Ad Grants box and click ‘Enroll.’
Submitting the Ad Grant application is fairly straightforward; you just need to remember to copy your AdWords account number from the welcome email Google sent you on your successful account set up. Once you submit the grant application, you must wait at least 10 business days for a response from Google.
Google will respond with an acceptance, a denial, or let you know that there were some issues with your account. One of the frustrating parts of this process is that Google doesn’t tell you exactly what went wrong with your application or what you need to change in your account if you are not approved, just that something isn’t right.
If your application for the Google Ad Grant is not approved, you must contact AdWords customer service (online chat usually works the best) and ask them to look up the account notes. Make sure you have your AdWords account number handy as they will ask for that in addition to your contact information (including the association’s EIN). Sometimes customer support will simply tell you that a technical issue is preventing the Ad Grant from being activated and you need to start all over. While frustrating, the benefits from free advertising on Google are worth going through the process again.
Google’s Ad Grant can add a powerful tool to your marketing and communications efforts for free. While the process to secure the grant can be confusing and tedious, the rewards are well worth the effort.
For associations without the expertise or inclination to apply for and manage a Google AdWords account, an outside professional can be extremely helpful. Josh Kilen has worked with Association Studios for more than a year and he recommend him wholeheartedly. Just send him an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or give him a call 253-353-2011, and he’ll walk you through the process.