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One of my favourite things about managing Google Search campaigns is doing so for a great outcome – whether that outcome is the growth of a new business or the benefit of a charitable organisation.

Are you a charity with tight marketing budgets and a worry about donations reducing due to the cost of living? Good news – as a non-profit, you can apply to Google for a whopping $10,000.00 per month in FREE Google Ads spend. All you have to do is tick a few boxes and ensure that your campaigns meet all of Google’s criteria when you build them.

Over the last few years, I’ve been fortunate enough to assist charities by managing campaigns for them in areas such as Ambulances and Eating Disorders. Each organisation has its very own unique cause to be accessible to as many people as possible, for both visibility and the growth of charitable donations.

Step 1 – Apply to Google.
If you already have an existing Google Ads account, this must be kept totally separate from the one that you will be creating to receive your Ad Grant. You won’t be putting in billing details and the currency will be in US Dollars rather than Sterling. (

Step 2 – Create your campaigns.
Build out your campaigns to appeal to users that are searching for terms that relate to your charity. Note – you cannot use single-word keywords unless it’s your charity’s name. You can only use search campaigns, not display, video or any other campaign type.

To make the most of your Ad Grants account, you can also consider bidding on keywords such as “Charity Free Wills” for occasions like Free Wills month or other events that involve your organisation (as long as you have a relevant landing page). Thinking outside of the box can really amplify the reach of your campaigns and maximise the utilisation of the $10k budget.

Step 3 – Manage your campaigns.
It’s not as simple as setting it up and leaving it. Google requires you to maintain performance standards and meet particular criteria, such as maintaining a minimum 5% click-through rate. You should also be actively managing your campaigns and optimising their performance to ensure that you get the best out of the traffic being sent to your site. It’s also important to check that the users that make it to your site through your ads are actually there for the correct reason. Indicators such as bounce rate can assist with this.

Step 4 – Don’t break these rules!
Among others, these are some of the more common rules that I have seen breached in Google Ad Grants accounts that you should avoid doing. This will ensure that your campaigns continue to run smoothly, and most importantly, that Google don’t suspend your account.

  1. Do not send traffic to your charitable website if the landing page contains links to profitable businesses. This can be viewed by Google as misleading users. Your Ad Grants spend should direct users to charitable organisations and nothing else.
  2. A common issue that I see pop up in Ad Grants accounts is disapproved ads that have been disapproved with the reason given being: “Circumventing Systems, Malicious Software”. It looks scary, but this can be an innocent mistake. To avoid this, ensure that your website is secure, has an SSL certificate, always use HTTPS web links and again, ensure that your site isn’t linking to loads of other sites.

What’s new with Ad Grants?
Back in the days of manual bidding, Ad Grant accounts were restricted to a maximum of $2 CPC. This often meant that campaigns were not hugely competitive and fell short to other businesses bidding on the same keywords.

However now, in the age of smart bidding, this is a thing of the past and makes charity campaigns much more prominent, particularly in markets where CPCs can reach very high levels.

The most effective model for your campaigns would be to ensure that you are tracking conversion actions on your site and utilising either a Target Cost Per Acquisition bid strategy or Target Return on Ad Spend. Other bid strategies such as Maximise Clicks, also fall foul of the $2 maximum CPC restriction, so it’s worth ensuring that you can track users from the first click, right through to when they get in touch and feed that information back into Google Ads.