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NFPs Warned to Take Action Following Changes to Google Ad Grants

11 January 2018 at 2:22 pm
Wendy Williams
Not for profits are being cautioned to take action or risk losing their Google grant money as the new year has ringed in changes for Google Ad Grants.

Wendy Williams | 11 January 2018 at 2:22 pm


NFPs Warned to Take Action Following Changes to Google Ad Grants
11 January 2018 at 2:22 pm

Not for profits are being cautioned to take action or risk losing their Google grant money as the new year has ringed in changes for Google Ad Grants.

From 1 January, the program, which helps not for profits use AdWords through a monthly USD $10,000 free advertising spend, has updated its policies for all ad grantees.

According to Google it has “grown to proudly serve over 35,000 nonprofits” and has reviewed its policies “to add clarity and raise standards of quality” for the free advertising grants.

Richenda Vermeulen, founder and CEO of digital strategy agency Ntegrity said it was fair Google was asking not for profits to be more responsible, but she warned organisations needed to stay abreast of the changes.

“The new policies from Google are designed to put users first, and drive more targeted traffic to the right campaigns, which is a good thing,” Vermeulen told Pro Bono News.

“In the short term, however, not for profits do need to take action or risk losing their Google grant – and losing $120,000 to $480,000 a year of free advertising would be devastating to many not for profits.”

Among the changes is a minimum quality score of three at the keyword level, a requirement to pause all under-performing campaigns, and create more targeted ad groups which align to specific landing pages, and a minimum click through rate of 5 per cent at the account level.

Accounts that fail to achieve at least a 5 per cent CTR for two consecutive months will be cancelled.

Vermeulen said the minimum CTR could be a challenge for some not for profits.

“For an AdWords expert, getting to 5 per cent click through rate is not difficult. However, many not for profits don’t have the time or expertise to continually review and optimise their account,” she said.

“Google is now raising their expectations of NFP’s – you’ll no longer be able to set and forget.

“We do expect to see more not for profits seeking agency help in managing their AdWords accounts.”

According to Google it will primarily use in-product notifications to communicate personalised suggestions as well as notifications of non-compliance.

Verneulen advised everyone with a Google Grant account to immediately review their campaigns and pause any campaigns or ad groups that are below a 5 per cent CTR.  

“This will prevent not for profits from losing their grant, which is the most important urgent action,” she said.

“From there, making changes like improving ad copy, optimising ads, and removing low-quality keywords will help you improve.

“The key is make sure ad groups, ads, keywords and landing pages are tightly aligned with the same messaging and goals.”

Another key change to the program is a decision to lift the $2 cap on costs-per-click (CPCs) for organisations that build their campaigns using the Maximize Conversions automated bidding strategy.

Vermeulen said the benefit of eliminating this cap was more opportunities for not for profits to use all of their grant money.

“Previously, it’s often been difficult for NFP to utilise their entire grant due to the $2 cap on CPC. With this cap now removed, NFPs have more opportunities to outbid competitors as they can bid with larger amounts of grant money, in comparison to for-profit businesses using their own resources,” she said.

She encouraged not for profits to make the most of their accounts.

“The Google grant is an awesome opportunity for free marketing, but many not for profits fail to take advantage of it,” she said.

“To make the most of your account, make sure you have someone on point to monitor and review your performance.”

Alongside the policies specific to Ad Grants, all Ad Grants accounts will also need to follow the standard AdWords policies.

But Google has said it is committed to helping not for profits use their ad grant successfully, and is now offering a number of support resources including upcoming webinars, local events, outreach in the online community forum, and tailored help content.

Wendy Williams  |  Editor  |  @WendyAnWilliams

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the not-for-profit sector and broader social economy. She has been the editor of Pro Bono News since 2018.

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  • chetna says:

    We called up Google and it said that there hasn’t been any changes to the Google Grants program January 1 onwards. Could you please direct us to any Google source or notification for this news?

    • Hi Chetna, the email announcement was sent on 14 December with the subject line “Important updates from Google Ad Grants”

      I’ve uploaded a screenshot here:

      Do note that many of the new policy changes aren’t highlighted in the email, but can be found in the updated policy.

      “All Ad Grants AdWords accounts must maintain a 5% click-through rate (CTR) each month. We recognize there are reasons why CTR may fluctuate, so you’ll be alerted through in-product notifications if your account is at risk of falling below 5% CTR with educational resources offered to improve. If the CTR requirement isn’t met for 2 consecutive months, your account will be cancelled. You may request your account to be reinstated after you’ve adjusted your keywords to bring your account into compliance.”

      See “Performance” here:

    • Jason King says:

      Not much point talking to the average Google employee about this, they won’t know.

      Instead, look at the Notifications in the top left of your Adwords account. You should have had one about the new policies. Some accounts are already getting notifications warning about single word, unowned brand, and low quality score keywords.

      Also, see several discussions happening in the Google Advertisers forum at especially the comments by Michelle from the Google Ad Grants team.

      And this article (which I wrote) on NTEN’s website –

      Would like to point out that although some sources are saying that nonprofits could lose their grant, that’s not the case. It will be a temporary suspension, and the Ad Grants team have said they will help charities back into compliance.

  • Wendy Williams says:

    Hi Chetna, Thanks for your comment. You can find the notification here: I hope this helps.

Your email address will not be published.


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