Google for Nonprofits – Setting up Google Ad Grants

Google Ad Grants are a fantastic way to increase the awareness of your nonprofit – besides, you can’t pass up $10,000 a month in free grants. But before you can access that money, everything has to be set up correctly.

There are two major parts to getting your AdWords campaign up and running with Ad Grants:

  1. Signing up with Google for Nonprofits
  2. Setting up your AdWords account and campaigns properly

I’ve worked with Google AdWords in a for-profit capacity since 2011. Luckily, the platform is exactly the same for nonprofits and for-profits. However, the process for setting up your nonprofit campaign takes a bit more than switching your campaign from “Paused” to “Enabled”. Below is a timeline estimating how long the approval process can take, and a detailed list of the steps and warnings to ensure a smooth setup process.

Please read the warnings carefully. There are a number of steps that, if done incorrectly, will require you to create a new account and start the process from the beginning (fiddlesticks!).

Ad Grants Setup Calendar

Because you have to sign up with Google for Nonprofits, the process can take up to 26 days for your campaign to go live, assuming that everything goes well.

How to Set Up Ad Grants

1. Review Ad Grants eligibility

The following organizations are not eligible:

  • Government organizations
  • Hospitals and medical groups
  • Academic institutions including schools and universities
  • Child care centers
2. Sign-up with TechSoup
  • Be sure to select an email address that can be shared throughout your nonprofit (e.g. not your personal) (this email will be used for three accounts: TechSoup, Google for Nonprofits, and Google AdWords)
  • The qualification process can take up to 10 days
3. Sign up for Google AdWords
  • While you wait to be approved with TechSoup, sign up for an AdWords account
  • After signing up, you will likely receive coupons for free credit – DO EVERYTHING IN YOUR POWER TO IGNORE THIS. If you add these credits, you will have to create a new AdWords account entirely. Just be patient and ignore these emails.
4. Set up your Google AdWords account
  • Add US Dollar as the currency, regardless of your location or local currency
  • Do not add payment information to your account at anytime, even if prompted by the platform. If you do add payment information, you will have to pay for any charges accrued on your credit card and will have to create an entirely new account.
5. Create a TechSoup Validation Token
  • You will be approved by TechSoup via email 10 days after signing up
  • Once approved, login to TechSoup
  • Click on your settings tab in the upper right-hand corner
  • Click “Validation Tokens”
  • Click “Google for Nonprofits”
  • Enter the country that your organization is in and your language preference
  • Select “Already a Member” and login with your TechSoup credentials again
  • Verify your information
  • Click the arrow for Google for Nonprofits underneath “Copy your token and paste it back here”
6. Apply for Google for Nonprofits
  • Note: make sure that you are logged into the email that your AdWords account is associated with
    Enter your AdWords ID
  • Have your Validation Token handy
  • Follow the prompts
  • The approval process can take up to 10 days
  • DO NOT ADD A SECOND ADMIN – Although this option is available, it may prevent your campaign from being approved in the future
  • More info on the application process
7. Request administrative access to your Google for Nonprofits account
 8. Apply for Google Ad Grants
  •  There are a number of great tools associated with Google for Nonprofits, but you must enroll for each of them
  • Enroll for Google Ad Grants
  • This process takes 1-2 days
 9. Create an ad campaign
  • In the meantime, while waiting for your Google Ad Grants approval, start making your ad campaign
  • You must choose Search Network – if you select otherwise, you will have to create a new account entirely again. In other words, this must be done from the very beginning and cannot be undone. Bonus Tip: Select “Standard” – if you select “All features” your campaign may be disapproved
  • Networks: Uncheck the box to “Include search partners”
  • Bid strategy: Select “I’ll manually set my bids for clicks”
  • Set keyword maximum cost-per-click (CPC) to $2.00
  • Daily budget: set limit to $329 USD (the equivalent to $10,000 USD per month)
  • Keywords: although the Ad Grants Help Center encourages you to use all keyword match types (broad match, broad match modifer, phrase match, and exact match), your campaign may not go live with any keyword match beyond broad – in other words, start with broad and add other match types after you’ve been approved
 10. Submit campaign for approval
  • Return to your administrative access request email from and click the link to your Google for Nonprofits page
  • Click “Enroll” in the Google Ad Grants section
  • Have your AdWords Customer ID (account number) handy
  • This can take 1-10 business days
  • Triple-check the above – the approval process can take a long time, even if you miss one small thing on the check-list
11. Once your account is approved
  • You will receive an email from Google congratulating you!
  • Login to your AdWords account – there should be a red bar across the top that says, “Your ads aren’t running – To resume serving ads, you’ll need to review and accept your terms and conditions. Fix it” Click on “Fix it”
  • Select “Accept” in regards to terms and conditions – your ads won’t run until you accept
  • Announce your new approval across newsletters, social media channels, and/or your donations page – note: Google does not permit press releases or outreach
12. If your account is not approved
  • We suggest contacting Google right away to determine the root of the problem – although extensive, their troubleshooting guide did not list an issue we encountered. Bonus tip: contact them via chat to troubleshoot in real-time and save your chat log for future reference, if needed
  • Troubleshoot issues with Ad Grants account application
  • Are you managing multiple account with Google Manager Accounts? Are any of those other accounts paid? If so, you will have to unlink the Ad Grants account from the paid accounts
  • Did you create multiple AdGroups and ads with multiple keyword match types? Try submitting your campaign with one AdGroup, one keyword, and one ad – you can add the rest later
13. Maintain your Ad Grants account
  • Do not change any of your settings listed above – especially Search Network and your billing status. Changing these settings can cause your campaign to stop and require a new account creation altogether.
  • Login at least once a month
  • Make a change at least once every 90 days
  • Do not add additional website domains

Google for Nonprofits Help – Ad Grants

Google Ad Grants Account v. Regular AdWords Account

Nonprofit Marketing and Google Ad Grants

Google AdWords Grant Account: 7 Tips for Every Manager

Would you like help setting up your Ad Grants? We would love to help! We can do everything from setting up your account, to creating your campaign (including keyword research, AdGroup and ad creation) and maintaining it. Check out our Google Ad Grants program for nonprofits


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