Google Ad Grants Changes


In 2018 Google implemented the most changes for their Ad Grants program since it was established in 2003. Not all were happy with the changes. In fact, many lost their Google Ad Grants, as a result.

But by using Google Ad Grants per their requirements, you’ll be able to continue to reap the benefits of their advertising into the future. Just manage your Google Ad Grants as if you were the one spending the money.


First, let’s go a bit earlier. Back in 2016, over Labor Day weekend, Google discontinued their “Grants Pro” program, which provided $40K/mo in Ad Grants to qualified nonprofits. (In brief, nonprofits needed to prove they were using the $10K/mo ad grants appropriately, over time, to be eligible for the $40K/mo. Hence, most nonprofits were never eligible for Grants Pro anyway).

On January 1 of 2018, Google introduced more stringent requirements to continue to receive their $10K/mo Ad Grants. Although a number of nonprofits lost their Ad Grants, moving forward, it’s only nonprofits that are not maintaining compliance with Google Ad Grants rules that are at risk.

JANUARY 1, 2018

Here are some of the changes that are impacting nonprofit Google Ad Grants accounts.

  • All Ad Grants accounts must maintain a 5% click-through rate (CTR) each month.
  • Ad Grants accounts must have specific geo-targeting to show ads in locations relevant to your nonprofit.
  • Ad Grants accounts must have at least 2 active ad groups per campaign each containing a set of closely related keywords and 2 active text ads.
  • Ad Grants accounts must have at least 2 sitelink ad extensions.

The following keywords and queries for serving Ad Grants ads are “not” permitted:

  • Branded words that you don’t own like “YouTube” or “Google” or names of newspapers or other organizations.
  • Single-word keywords (excluding your own branded words, recognized medical conditions, and a small number of exceptions).
    • Note: terms with dashes, periods, or special characters are not treated as single-word keywords.
  • Overly generic keywords like “free videos,” “e-books,” “today’s news,” “easy yoga,” “download games,” “job alert,” names of places, names of historical events/people.
  • Keywords with a Quality Score of 1 or 2.

These are not all the changes but they are among those that are causing account suspensions.  Of course there are additional long-standing rules that need to be respected, as well. For more info, visit Google Ad Grants.


If you ensure that you use Google Ad Grants per their requirements, you’ll continue to enjoy their advertising benefits into the future.

Further good news is that it’s just as easy, now, to get Google Ad Grants for the first time, as it has ever been.

In effect, Google is simply re-prioritizing the program so that only those nonprofits who are the most sincere about using the Ad Grants get to continue to keep benefiting from them.


Once you’ve lost Google Ad Grants, it may not be as easy to get it back, as it was when initially signing up. But we have had success getting it back for nonprofits. Having said that, it’s better to rectify matters before your account is suspended.

Google also provides a 30-day “warning” window before they suspend your Ad Grants account. If you’ve received a warning and you’re not sure what to do, you’re welcome to shoot an email to Nonprofit Fire for recommendations.

If you’ve lost your Google Ad Grants, you are also welcome to shoot us a message about getting it back for you.

But in any case, whether you’ve lost your Ad Grants, or if you’ve been warned that you will be losing it, it’s imperative that the account be brought into compliance.


Some nonprofits have expressed concern that bringing their account into compliance has reduced the effectiveness of the advertising. It’s true that the new requirements necessitate more work to keep the performance high. But the best results still, as always, center upon “what” you’re advertising.

If your nonprofit was spending the advertising money out of its own bank account, then you might be even more interested in how that money is spent. Which is exactly how for-profit “businesses” use Google’s advertisements. And that’s really what Google wants nonprofits to do.

In brief, just treat Google Ad Grants professionally, just as businesses do, which will make the advertising more meaningful for your organization.


One thing that has not changed is the Google Ad Grants Story Triangle. This is still the best way to help nonprofits maximize the value of their Google Ad Grants. Please visit the link below if you’d like to review how that works. It is the key to successful use of Google Ad Grants.

George Alger
Nonprofit Fire