Analytics & Digital MarketingBlogNewsNonprofitThought Leadership

[Updated] Google Ad Grants for Nonprofits Policy Changes

By October 17, 2019 September 14th, 2020 No Comments

How will the policy changes impact your organisation?


Charitable organisations need all the help they can get to raise awareness and funds.

We know how beneficial the Google Ad Grants programme can be for nonprofits. Google’s recent policy changes impact many nonprofits, which is why this blog provides an overview of key changes to the Ad Grants policy announced this May.

What are Google Ad Grants?

Not with this programme? No problem, here is a breakdown: Google’s Ad Grants work just like AdWords, Google’s online advertising tool, allowing grantees to display messages to people who are searching for similar nonprofits. Google Ad Grants help qualifying nonprofits receive $10,000 USD of in-kind Google Ads advertising every month. Currently, Google works with over 45,000 organizations through this programme.

In order for nonprofits to maximise the benefit of this monthly, in-kind advertising, they have to make the programme work for them whilst being compliant with the Ad Grants policies.

At the beginning of 2019, new changes were introduced that altered the way in which grant accounts were used. In response to reports on poor user experience, Google set limits to ensure grantees were only bidding on relevant keywords. These limits mean users could no longer able to bid on very generic or single word keywords and a previous $2 bid limit was also lifted for those accounts with ‘Maximise Conversions’ enabled.

Maximize Conversions is an automated bidding strategy that “automatically” adjusts the bids to increase conversion volume. This strategy utilizes Google’s artificial intelligence (AI) system to optimise keyword bids in order to increase the number of conversions. The AI technology uses a person’s previous search history and their intent in the current search to help position the ads. In more generic terms, it is Google’s way of making sure the grant account advertisers connect the relevant ads to the right people at the correct time.

Key Policy Changes

For many of you, staying on top of Google Ad Grants policy changes, as well as ensuring you maximise its full potential, can be a challenge. Leafcutter can help! We can help your Ad Grants account drive leads and donations, so you get the most of this programme.

Further changes based upon recent updates (May 2019) to the policy include a greater focus on Smart Campaigns. Ad Grants accounts who are not exclusively using Smart Campaigns must maintain a 5% click-through rate (CTR) each month. The 5% CTR rate is not new, but Google is now placing a greater emphasis on linking to other tools, like Smart Campaigns. If you don’t use smart campaigns and smart goals, you will have to meet the conversion goal requirement to ensure compliance.

The bidding process has also changed to improve performance for grantees: Ad Grants now requires all accounts created on or after April 22, 2019 use conversion-based Smart bidding for all campaigns (unless using Smart Campaigns). So now, each campaign is required to use either Maximize conversions, Maximize conversion values, Target CPA, or Target ROAS bidding.

Another key change (also affecting accounts created on or after April 22, 2019) is that at least one conversion type must be set up as described in the Ad Grants activation guide and must accrue at least 1 conversion per month. There are also limitations, as conversion types such as time spent on the site (including homepage visits) may be added to your account, but must be excluded from “Conversions”. For accounts that were created on or after January 1, 2018 (as well as any account using a conversion-based Smart bidding strategy) valid conversion tracking must be set up as described in the Ad Grants Conversion Tracking Guide and accrue at least 1 conversion per month.

Sound confusing? Don’t be overwhelmed! We’ve been helping nonprofits navigate Google’s Ad Grant policies for years.

To be most effective (and compliant) the best way to start is by ensuring you have set every component up correctly. This includes reviewing your Google Ads, Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager and Conversion Tracking are set up according to best practice and follow Google’s recommendations. With the correct tools and components working you can report and track against your campaign objectives. This can be a complex process, and feel daunting at times, but we are here if you need help.

In the meantime, read more about the happy grantees who have benefited from the use of Google Ad Grants around the world.

Wrapping Up

We hope the above has been helpful in understanding Google’s current changes to the Ad Grants programme.

If you want to look more closely and your account, or think you would like to sign up, talk to us about how we can help with your Google Ad Grant today.