Changes to Google Grants for Nonprofits and Flying Elbows

By Scott Garrett | Jan 31, 2013
More Articles by Scott

Recently, there have been some pretty big changes to Google Grants for Nonprofits. Before I go into the elbow dropping details of the recent changes, I will give you a larger overview of what the Google Grants Program is.

Google Grants is a program for US nonprofit/charity organizations with a 501(c)(3) status. Once approved through an application process, the Google Grantees receive a grant for free Adwords advertising worth approximately $10,000 per month. Grantees can only use text ads and are limited to advertise on, and cannot advertise on Google’s search partners or on the Google Display Network.  In addition you must be active in managing your Google Grants Adwords account or Google will make you tap out and you will no longer receive free money – and who doesn’t like free money? If you are serious about applying to Google Grants you might want to check out this page with more details on the grants program.

You might also be thinking, “Hey! Only $10,000 a month?! Why not more?”, because everyone wants more free money. If you are thinking like that, don’t worry: you don’t have the madness, you are actually thinking quite clearly. With the amount of time and work it takes to create a successful Adwords account optimized to increase donations/conversion actions for your charity’s website, you would hope you could get more than $10,000 a month.

But, wait, what do I hear in the distance? Yes, I hear it! It is the laughing of The Million Dollar Man, Mr. Ted DiBiase! And guess what he is holding?


$40,000 a month for your charity! But wait just one second, why is the Million Dollar Man still laughing?  Mr. Mullet up there is still chuckling, because although grantees do have the potential to receive $40,000 a month from Google through the second stage of the Google Grants Program called Grantspro, Google has not accepted new applications for the Grantspro program since late last year and still isn’t accepting new applications. Hopefully this isn’t a sign that Google is getting rid of the Grantspro program, but merely that it is on hold for the time being.

At this point you might be asking yourself, what about the elbow dropping news that I promised at the beginning of this post? Well wait no longer, because here it comes… First, effective January 28, 2013, Google Grantees can bid up to $2 on keywords (the previous keyword bid limit was $1) which will hopefully allow grantees’ ads to show on keyword searches that were previously out of their reach due to bid limit. This news alone would be wonderful because it would help Google Grantees become more competitive in search results, allowing their ads to show up more often and possibly in a better ad position. However, just like when Hulk Hogan joined the NWO and betrayed the WCW, there is a twist in this story.


Google is now forcing all Google Grantees’ ads to appear below ads from paying advertisers on Adwords. This comes as no great surprise, as Google is of course not a charity case and must first appease its paying customers. However, this twist does mean that smaller nonprofits that rely on the free money from Google to advertise could be pushed out from paid search results by larger charities or businesses that have the resources to spend money on paid online advertising.

Recap: With the good news of the increased keyword bid limit to $2 for Google Grantees, comes the bad news of Google Grantees’ ads being forced below those of paying customers. And now here is the ugly

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Are you part of a nonprofit? If so, how do you advertise online? Comment below and follow me on the Twitter @ScottGarrett89

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