Getting lost in your nonprofit’s Google Ads account? Not sure what changes to make or how to get your numbers up? Just getting started and stressing over how to maintain things over time? Google Ads for nonprofits have a somewhat steep learning curve. Once you understand how the ads, keywords and landing pages work together in your account, monthly maintenance can feel a lot less overwhelming.

Google Ads for Nonprofits

The Google Ads grant for nonprofits (also called an Ad Grant) is available to eligible nonprofits and consists of $10,000 per month in Google Ads. However, this is not your standard Google Ads account. There are restrictions and policies you must follow to keep your account and monthly budget.

If you’re new to Google for Nonprofits, the Google grant program that includes Ad Grants, check out our tips on why and how to apply. Once you’ve been approved, you can set up your Google Ads account and apply for an Ad Grant.

How It Works

The ultimate goal of Google Ads is to match what people are searching for with information that answers their question. Keep this in mind as you brainstorm ad topics, keywords that people might be using (and their intent), and the pages on your website where your ads will direct people.

Google Ads accounts have a hierarchy setup of campaigns that are made up of ad groups that are made up of ads and keywords. Start with one campaign that includes a variety of ad groups focused on different topics.

Account Organization

Organizing ad groups by topics makes your account much easier to maintain and sets you up for success. Within each ad group, associate a group of ads with a landing page and a group of keywords. All of which should work well together.

For example, imagine you’re a rare disease organization. Keywords related to disease symptoms should not be included in an ad group with ads about supporting your nonprofit that lead to your donation page. Instead, you’d want to direct people looking for information on symptoms to a closely related page on your website, like a Symptoms page detailing all of the symptoms of the disease.

Keywords, ads and landing pages should all focus on the same topic so as not to confuse or frustrate searchers. 

Managing an Ad Grant Account

Now that we understand how these things work together and have our account organized correctly, we can work on maintenance and managing Google Ads for nonprofits every month. 

Follow Ad Grant Policies

You’ve heard us mention the policies and restrictions that Google places on all grant accounts. Remember:

  • No one-word or overly generic keywords
  • At least two ads and two sitelink extensions in each ad group
  • Track conversions correctly
  • No keyword quality scores below three
  • The overall click through rate for the account cannot drop below 5%
  • Complete the annual survey

Failing to follow the policies (even by accident!) is an easy way to get your account suspended and lose $10,000 in free ad funding. Once your account has been suspended for policy violations, it can be difficult to convince the folks at Google to give you another shot. And, after hours upon hours on the phone with Google Support, I can personally confirm that struggle.

Set Up Automated Rules

Setting up automated rules within your Google Ads account can prevent you from breaking Ad Grant policies without realizing it. Ongoing elements of your account, such as keyword quality scores or click through rates, can easily drop below the policy compliance levels if you’re not constantly checking in on things. Luckily, you can set up rules within your account to automatically pause keywords that drop below these levels.

Setting up the following automated rules can prevent disapprovals:

  • Pause keywords with quality scores lower than 3
  • Pause keywords with click through rates lower than 5%

If you have automated rules set up, you’ll want to manually check paused keywords each time you get into your account. In some instances, you might want to unpause a keyword that wasn’t doing well and make tweaks to the ad or landing page copy to improve the future performance of the keyword.

Reviewing Your Account

We recommend logging into your account once or twice each month to check in on a few key factors and make incremental changes to improve them. You’ll want to look at:

  • The click through rate for the whole account, each campaign, each ad group, each keyword and each ad. If any are lower than 5%, you’ll need to make one or more of the adjustments noted in the next section.
  • Check impressions and clicks for ad groups. Are any significantly lower than the others? Are there ad groups with no impressions at all?
  • Check conversions for ad groups and note any that are higher or lower than average. Why might that be? Remember that conversions happen on the landing page.
  • Double-check the Ad Grant policies to ensure your account is compliant and without disapprovals. The Ad Grants Account Review Dashboard can help with that!

Changes to Make

Once you’ve pinpointed problem areas to focus on in your account, consider the following adjustments to improve your results:

  • To boost impressions and clicks, remove non-serving keywords and replace them with better fits. Keep your current ads and landing page in mind.
  • Pause and create new ads to reflect changes in keywords. Adjust the phrasing of poorly performing ads and create relevant new ads for poorly performing or new keywords.
  • Adjust ad copy for ad groups with high bounce rates to set better expectations for content on the page.
  • Update the landing page content to be more helpful and answer the intent behind the keyword.

Remember when I said that keywords, ads and landing pages must all work together? If you’re seeing poor results in your account, it could be due to any one of those areas and how they work together. Put yourself in the position of the searcher. What would you search for to get the information on your landing page? What ad copy would you expect to see when you search for a keyword? What page content would be most helpful after clicking on the ad?

Google uses all of these metrics and more to determine how often to show your ads and for whom. Putting the searcher first is a great way to work toward improving your results and maximizing the impact of your Google Ads across the board.

Marketing and Google Ads for Nonprofits

As you are managing your Google Ads on a regular basis, don’t forget to include ads within new marketing campaigns, strategies and content. Get our tips for working it into your strategy.

Build your account over time with new ad groups for new initiatives or focuses of your nonprofit. And continuously look for popular and key pages on your site that do not yet have ads. New blog post? New program? Trying out a webinar? Consider using ads to promote it!

Google Ads for nonprofits are an excellent way to get your organization in front of thousands of searchers and potential new supporters on a monthly basis. When managed correctly, an Ad Grant can expand your nonprofit’s audience exponentially.

Does your nonprofit use Google Ads? Have you had trouble maintaining your account or keeping up with policies? Any specific tips, questions or struggles? Let’s problem solve in the comments below.