Google Ad Grants 2018 Updates: The Good, The Bad And What To Do Now

Industry News, Non Profit

Updated Information about Google Grants requirements in our new blog. 

First thing’s first… if you work for a nonprofit organization that does not utilize Google’s ad grants program, that needs to change. Google Ad Grants are part of the Google for Nonprofits program, gifting you an AdWords monthly budget of $10,000 to use to attract volunteers, get donations, and share your Nonprofit’s message. 

Recently, some major updates have been made by Google that change how their Ad Grants program works. Understanding these changes will help you better utilize your Google ad grant budget, so you can make the most of your digital marketing funds. There is good and bad news, so keep reading to find out all the nitty-gritty details. And when you’re done here, we posted even MORE updates that Google rolled out for the Grant program. Check them out here.

No More $2 Bid Cap

Yes… $10,000 is A LOT of money. However, in the past, Google has always implemented a $2 bid cap on your keywords. This has always made it nearly impossible to spend the full allotment of grant money each month. The $2 bid capping meant it was a struggle to get ads for your nonprofit on the first page for the most popular and highly relevant keywords.

Without the bid cap, you’ll now be able to build your campaigns utilizing the “maximize for conversions” bidding strategy.  It also means you can spend more of that 10k every month.

“Maximize conversions automatically set bids to help get the most conversions for your campaign while spending your budget. It uses advanced machine learning to automatically optimize bids and offers auction-time bidding capabilities that tailor bids for each and every auction” (Google).

Basically, instead of Google forcing below-market Cost-Per-Click bids, accounts will now be able to determine a better fitting bid in real time. This enables you to bid higher on well-performing keywords and be more competitive in the online ad space against other nonprofits and private companies.

5%+ CTR… or Account CANCELLATION

Yes… cancellation. Possibly the biggest downside to Google’s program changes is the fact that your AdWords account now has a very strict 5% Click Through Rate (CTR) standard.

If your account doesn’t achieve at least a 5% CTR for 2 consecutive months, your account will be canceled. To avoid this, make sure you are bidding ONLY on keywords that align with the message/goal of your nonprofit organization. It’s the unrelated traffic that can really hurt you. So check your keywords closely, and make sure you’re regularly updating your negative keyword list.

“Ads and keywords must reflect your organization’s primary mission, be relevant to your nonprofit’s programs and services, and be specific enough to provide a good experience for the user seeing your ads.” (Google).

Structure Your Account

To utilize the $10,000 while also avoiding frivolous spending that could get your account suspended, it’s important to make sure your account is structured properly. Check for the following:

  • Geo-targeting: your ads will only serve in the searcher’s location that is relevant to the nonprofit organization. Irrelevant locations are a waste.
  • Expanded Text Ads & Ad Groups: each campaign MUST feature at least two active ad groups containing only related keywords with 2 corresponding expanded text ads.
  • Site links: make sure you are using at least 2 site links, implement these at both the account level as well as the ad group level.


As of January 1st, 2018, these changes were implemented. While some of the program updates provide amazing opportunities for growth, others provide new challenges that will need to be met with proper optimizations and attention.

At the end of the day, it’s still free digital marketing money that can go towards the mission of your nonprofit organization. Adapting to these changes should only improve your AdWords account performance.

Not sure you’re up to the task of meeting the new ad requirements? Or looking to get your nonprofit Google Grant account off the ground? We can help with that, in fact, we specialize in it! Contact us to learn more about how we can help your nonprofit utilize Adwords to achieve your mission.

About the Author

Nick Footer

Nick Footer is an entrepreneur and founder of Intuitive Digital, a national award-winning digital marketing agency in Portland, Oregon. With over 15 years of experience, he has helped hundreds of businesses improve their online presence through search engine optimization, paid advertising, and website design.

One thought on “Google Ad Grants 2018 Updates: The Good, The Bad And What To Do Now

  1. Great work.We always need to be updated. This Google Adwords update is very effective to set the bid for an ad. thanks for sharing this blog with us.

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