Big Changes to Google Grants – Some Good, Some Scary!

They’re all at it – after the new features for non-profits at Facebook last week, now Google have announced some significant new rules for their Ad Grant accounts. Details here:

Phil McMinn of Torchbox* summarised the changes on the ECF list:

  • All Google Ad Grants accounts must maintain a 5% click-through rate (CTR) each month. The required CTR was previously 1%, so this is a huge hike. If the CTR requirement isn’t met for 2 consecutive months, your account will be cancelled.
  • Single-word keywords are now no longer permitted in your account. There are some exceptions to this, including:
    • branded words
    • recognized medical conditions
    • basic keywords relating directly to supporting a charity. This is very vague—I expect Google to clarify this.
    • a small number of specific exception keywords published here.
  • Keywords with a Quality Score of 2 or less are no longer permitted.
  • Names of places and names of historical events/people aren’t permitted.

All accounts must now also include:

  • specific geo-targeting to show ads in locations relevant to your nonprofit. It’s not enough to just target worldwide.
  • at least 2 active ad groups per campaign each containing a set of closely related keywords and 2 active text ads.
  • at least 2 sitelink ad extensions. It’s not clear whether this is across the account, or per campaign.

These changes will take effect on Jan 1st.  It’s not all scary – they’re also lifting the program’s $2.00 USD bid cap when using Maximize conversions bidding, so you can potentially spend more Grant money on your ads.

These changes are challenging, but as I’ve said so many times (that I’m sick of hearing myself say it!) – Google Ad Grants are hugely valuable and really worth investing time in.  For just one example, I’ve done some work with a homeless charity recently to set up campaigns on their Google Grant account, including a Brand campaign with donation sitelinks.  In just 3 weeks, it’s brought in approximately 100 donors. To run the ads cost about $900, which was completely covered by the Grant. In my experience, a lot of charities focus too much on social media and neglect this very useful service; and the fact that Google are making it a bit more challenging suggests that they’re trying to clean house a bit and shut down the accounts that aren’t being used properly.

There’s some resources for Google Grants on the Digital Charity Lab site, and please do let me know if you’d be interested in further Google Grant training next year – in fact, add it to our needs survey which you can fill out here!

*Torchbox are great on Google Grants – check out their free guide


  1. Jean

    A couple of updates

    UK digital marketers Uprise Up have posted a blog post about this:

    Their founder John Onion has a word of caution about the ‘maximise conversions’ change – he says it should be approached with caution, and that they’ve seen it reduce clicks and value in many campaigns 🙁

  2. Caroline

    Thanks so much for this summary of the changes, very much appreciated!


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