Using Google Ad Grants to Maximise Your Charity’s Online Exposure

Learn how charities can benefit from free Google Advertising, to increase their online reach.

While many charities don’t have the budget to spend on paid search advertising such as Google AdWords, that doesn’t mean that they couldn’t benefit hugely from the increased exposure this marketing strategy can deliver.

Luckily, Google has a scheme called Google Ad Grants, which helps charities by offering them up to $10,000 per month (currently around £7,400) free advertising on the Google AdWords platform.

This article aims to cover the basics of Google Ad Grants:

  • First things first: what is Google AdWords?
  • How can charities benefit from advertising on Google?
  • Case Study – Biosphere Expeditions
  • Is my charity eligible for Google Ad Grants?
  • What restrictions are there on spending my Ad Grant?
  • Are there any costs involved for my charity?
  • How do I get started?

First things first: what is Google AdWords?





Google AdWords generates the paid ads that show at the top of Google results.

Advertisers pay each time someone clicks on the ad, which is why this mode of advertising is also known as Pay Per Click advertising, or PPC.

The cost of each click is determined by the market. Advertisers bid for their ad to show in certain positions. This means that the cost to advertise for different keywords varies hugely depending on the topic.

The difference with Google Ad Grants for charities is that you don’t actually have to pay! So you can run advertising campaigns spending up to the equivalent of $10,000 per month without it costing your charity a penny.

How can charities benefit from advertising on Google?

There are a number of ways that your charity can benefit from advertising on Google. Here are a few ideas:

Raise awareness:

You can spread the word about your charity by advertising for related keywords or search terms. For example, a charity supporting the homeless might advertise for keywords such as: “homelessness”, “homeless statistics UK” and “homeless charity UK”.

Donations or Fundraisers:

Build momentum around fundraising events by advertising on relevant topics and even relevant news stories! For example, if the plight of an endangered species is a hot topic, a conservation charity could place ads that could let internet searchers know that they can help by donating.

Online petitions:

If you’re raising awareness of your cause using online petitions, you can use Google advertising to raise awareness of your petition and encourage people to sign it.

Charity Shop:

If you run an online shop as part of our fundraising efforts, you can drive website visitors to it using Google AdWords.

Data capture:

If you have content that is in demand, you can drive traffic to it and give it away in return for peoples’ contact details. This means that you can build up a mailing list of people who are interested in your charity and could potentially turn into supporters.

Case Study: Biosphere Expeditions

Biosphere Expeditions is a not-for-profit organisation that runs hands-on volunteer conservation expeditions worldwide. The company uses Google Ad Grants to target a number of key audiences:

1. Those already interested in similar expedition using keywords such as “volunteer expeditions” and “volunteer with wildlife”.

2. Those interested in other similar activities using keywords such as “working with animals” and “animal conservation efforts”.

3. Those looking to pursue a career in a similar field and looking for work experience e.g. “zoology jobs” and “biologist work experience”.

With the grant, Biosphere Expeditions receive more than 10,000 new visitors to the website each month from all around the globe generating them brand awareness. They even have campaigns in German, French and Spanish.

In addition to the reach of the campaign, they receive over 100 visits to their Sign Up page per month showing the effectiveness of the ads in driving relevant, profitable visitors.

Is my charity eligible for Google Ad Grants?

There are a few criteria you have to meet in order to be eligible for Google Ad Grants. You must:

  • Hold current UK charity status
  • Agree to the applications required certifications regarding non-discrimination and donation receipt and use.
  • Have a functioning website with substantial content
  • Your website cannot display Google AdSense ads or affiliate advertising

Google Ad Grants is not available to the following types of non-profit organisations:

  • Government entities and organisations
  • Hospitals and medical groups
  • Schools, childcare centres, academic institutions and universities
  • What restrictions are there on spending my Ad Grant?
  • Google is giving you the free budget to use, but it doesn’t give you complete carte blanche.

First of all, you have to split the $10,000 budget evenly throughout the month. This means a maximum daily spend of approximately £200.

Secondly, the grant can only be used for text ads, not banner images and is restricted to ads running on

Thirdly, there is an upper limit of £2 per click. This means that you will not be able to use the grant for some of the more expensive keywords.

If you are a local charity, adding your location to your keyword can help to reduce the cost per click.

Another thing to note is that your ads will not always show up at the top of the search results as Google may prioritise paying advertisers.

Are there any costs involved for my charity?

You can set up and run your campaign using Google Ad Grants yourself. If you do not have Google AdWords experience, you can work with the Fountain team who can offer some or any of the following services:

  • Campaign set-up
  • On-going campaign management

We offer a charity discount, making these services very affordable. We’re also happy to have an informal chat with recommendations for your campaign.

How do I get started?

To apply for the Google Ad Grant programme, you can register your organisation with Google at –

One you’ve done this, you can either start having a play yourself or get in touch with us to have a chat about how we can help on 01603 340335.



Category: PPC
12 December 2014

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