What is the Google Ad Grant?
The Google Ad Grant is a scheme which provides access to $10,000 worth of in-kind advertising every month to nonprofits all over the world. By qualifying and applying to the Grant, your nonprofit, however big or small, can gain access to a huge wealth of advertising power.
From attracting donors to recruiting volunteers, the grant can help take your organisation to the next level. Not only do you receive $10,000 worth of in-kind, text-based advertising, but you can also use the tools provided by Google to help build effective campaigns. This means that your advertising has all the advantages of a well-equipped campaign as well as being entirely free for your organisation – after all, it wouldn’t be much help to have $10,000 worth of free advertising without the proper tools to make your message compelling!
In order to get started you should be:
a) a registered charity in your country and
b) have a Google for Nonprofits account, which involves signing up to Google’s Terms and Conditions for donation use and discrimination. With that done, you should be good to go!
If you can answer yes to all of these questions, your website qualifies for the Google Ad Grant:
1. Are you registered as a charity and with Google for Nonprofits?
Your organisation must hold a valid charity status, which can be checked here. On top of this, you also need to be registered as an official charity in your country, which in the UK normally means contacting HMRC to update your status to tax-exempt. However, registering as an official charity varies based upon your geographical location, so it’s always best to check which local or national authority you should be registering with. You can find out more about the registration requirements within your country here.
Next, your organisation has to apply to Google for Nonprofits account. After agreeing to Google’s terms and conditions regarding non-discrimination and donation receipt and use, you should be good to move onto their website policy.
2. Does your organisation own your own website domain?
Obviously, your organisation has to own a website and a domain for users to land on when they click on your advert. This is one of the most vital first steps for a nonprofit: getting online establishes your organisation and grants you access to a broad audience of potential donors and volunteers. You’ll therefore need to own your own website domain with a relevant name before getting online and applying for the Google Ad Grant.
3. Does your website clearly describe your organisation, its mission and its activities?
One of the criteria the Google Ad Grant emphasises most is quality: if it’s between you and another organization competing for the grant, they’ll choose the website which is more likely to convince users to sign up and donate.
If you want to maintain a high-quality website, you need a clear, organised description of you organisation, covering what you do and why. Transparency is key to any charity or nonprofit website – make sure you clearly set out why your organisation was founded, what it does to achieve its goals, and how people can get involved in current missions.
4. Are you using one of these approved donation processors?
In order for users to land directly on a donation page for your organisation, your content should be hosted by one of these approved donation processors.
5. Does your website have “substantial” content on it?
Your website needs to be what Google calls “substantial”: it needs to have good content, updated events and information for a great user experience. A substantial website instantly makes a good impression: is there anything more disconcerting than clicking onto a webpage and finding it bare?
Make sure your website looks authoritative and genuine by populating it with meaningful and varied content. Having a bare-bones approach won’t cut it with the Google Ad Grant, so it’s worth putting some time and effort into substantiating your online presence.
6. Is your website kept up to date on you organisation’s events/activities?
A website which isn’t up-to-date isn’t much use at all, so the Google Ad Grant terms and conditions emphasise that all the information on your website has to be updated regularly. This is also a great policy when it comes to getting people involved – if your audience are being given out-of-date information, they’ll be misinformed as to how they can contribute.
On top of this, keeping your website regularly updated also gives you the opportunity to regularly publicise your upcoming and most recent activities, achievements and goals to your audience.
7. Is your website’s information kept neat and tidy?
As well as being up-to-date, the information on your website should also be neat and easy to find. This way, people looking for more information about your organisation and its goals will be able to find it quickly and easily.
8. Does your website have obvious but non-intrusive calls-to-action?
One of the more particular Google Ad Grant requirements is that any calls-to-action you have on your website should be non-intrusive and relatively sparse. Instead of populating your website with lots of pointed calls-to-action, its probably to make sure they’re spread out and easy on the eye. This will also fit better with your image as a nonprofit.
9. Is your website full of unique content?
Google also takes into account the kind of content found on your website. Not only does it have to look good, but it also needs to be unique. This means that you can’t reproduce or copy content from anywhere else. Essentially, you need to offer your viewers valuable content which can’t be found anywhere else.
10. Does your website have easy and intuitive navigation?
In order to be eligible for the Google Ad Grant, your website needs to be easy to navigate and relatively intuitive to use. This way, Google knows that the $10,000 worth of advertising credit is going to an organisation whose website can really benefit from the expanded audience – what use is a huge boost in viewership if the website they’re viewing is convoluted and hard to use?
As such, its worth making sure that all of your webpages link up in intuitive ways. It’s also a good idea to use a good amount of white space to make your website on the eyes.
11. Does you website have quick loading times?
The Google Ad Grant’s eligibility requirements also cover the functionality of your website, which involves this and the following two requirements. Your website should have quick loading times so that people can find and view your organisation’s site without being bored by loading times or clicking away because they took too long.
12. Do all the links on your website work properly?
All of the links on your website should work properly, with absolutely none of them leading to a dead end. This will ultimately prevent viewers from becoming frustrated with your website and clicking away.
13. Is your website secured with HTTPS?
Your website will also need to be secured with HTTPS as a standard security measure for encrypting all the data your website hosts over a secure connection.
14. Is the primary purpose of your website something other than commercial activity? Is it also free of promised results?
If you’re a nonprofit looking to apply for the Grant, this is an obvious must: your website cannot be made with the goal of commercial gain in mind. If your organization does charge for products or services, you have to make it very clear how you use the funds. On their Help page, the Ad Grant suggests disclosing an annual report.
Your website also has to be absolutely free of commercial exchanges with promised results. A good way of thinking about it is this: WWF’s offer of a free cuddly toy with a sponsorship is completely compatible with the Google Ad Grant terms and conditions, but if they started promising statistical results in exchange for certain amounts of monetary donation, it wouldn’t. It’s fine to offer perks or exclusive add-ons, but make sure you don’t promise specific results in return for money.
It boils down to this: if there’s commercial activity on your website, you have to show how the money made serves the public in some way. Always aim to be as transparent as is possible.
15. Does your website aim to serve the public in some way?
This may seem obvious, but its definitely not one to miss – your website should have its service to the public front and centre to make sure that your charitable goals are clear. The Google Ad Grant is only available to nonprofits seeking to make real change in the world, so make sure that your website reflects the work you do. Organisation’s which do not serve the public in some way are automatically exempt, so make sure there’s no room for confusion.
16. Are the advertisements on your webpages relevant to your organisation’s mission?
The Ad Grant eligibility requirements are pretty clear when it comes to advertising, which is best kept little to none. Importantly, the terms emphasise how advertising shouldn’t be obtrusive and should instead be directly related to your organisation’s mission wherever possible.
17. Is your website free from Google AdSense?
This one is pretty self-explanatory. In order to be eligible for the Google Ad Grant, your nonprofit website can’t be monetized through Google AdSense. This would automatically make you ineligible, so its making sure your website isn’t using Google AdSense.
18. Does your website have no affiliate advertising links?
As part of the advertising eligibility requirements, your website has to be free of affiliate advertising links. This way, Google knows exactly who they are directing viewers to through the Grant without having to worry about who might be having their affiliate advertising viewed as well.
I’ve met all these requirements, how do I apply?
If you’ve already met all of these requirements, you can start your application for a Google for Nonprofits account here! The verification process can be roughly split into three stages: requesting an account, being contacted by email to let you know you’ve been verified, and then activating you account so that you can use the individual products and offers available.
As part of requesting a Google for Nonprofits account, you’ll need to register your organisation with TechSoup, who handle the verification process for Google. If you’re not currently registered, you can either do so here or register as part of your request for a Google for Nonprofits account. If you’re already registered with them, you’ll just need to keep the verification token they give you in mind to use during your request.
If you’d like to find out more about what makes webpages count as high-quality, read about the key features of a great nonprofit website here.
How can Twenti help?
Lucky for you, Twenti can help you with all of these things. We specialise in combining web design with online presence management so that we can cover all of these factors in one approach. This way, Twenti can help your with everything from web design to substantiating your webpages with high-quality content.
We also offer a free website audit so you can figure out exactly what might need updating or changing. Find out more about our services here or get in touch directly to start your Google Ad Grant application today.
With these 20 qualifications under your belt, you should be good to go! If you’d like to read the Ad Grants website policy in full, check out all the small print here. Or, if you’d rather discover more about the Grant as a whole, check out all the benefits and opportunities it offers here.
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