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How to Get Free Money from Google for Your Nonprofit (yep, for real)

Securing a dedicated marketing and communications budget for nonprofit organizations and foundations can be difficult.

Many times, funds are allocated to fixed, practical line items like overhead expenses and operating costs. However, dedicating marketing dollars and resources to your communications efforts can amplify your message to a larger audience, help secure funding from potential donors, and attract volunteers or potential partner organizations. Now more than ever, with impact-driven organizations shifting strategies in the time of COVID-19, nonprofits and foundations have an opportunity to expand their reach and achieve their goals in new ways. We want to help nonprofits learn how to apply for the Google for Nonprofits program and secure a Google Ads Grant.

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We believe establishing goals and targets that align with your marketing spend can help guide your strategy as well as provide the opportunity to report on true response rates. For more on why, read our post “Debunking the Nonprofit Marketing & Communications Budget”.

Already convinced crafting a dedicated marketing plan is a priority? Great! Here are the steps you can take to get free support from Google as well as secure a $10,000 grant for Paid Search advertising.

In an effort to support mission-driven organizations, Google for Nonprofits provides eligible organizations with free access to the full G-Suite (Gmail, Hangouts, Google Drive), Google Ads, YouTube Nonprofit Program, and Google Maps and Earth. These tools help your organization establish email accounts using your domain as well as organize and provide team access to your internal resources (this is particularly helpful with many communications teams working remotely while social distancing is still a priority).

In addition to these tools, Google also supports nonprofits’ effort to increase awareness around their mission, engage new supporters, and fundraise through digital channels with its Google Grant program. The Google Grant program provides nonprofits with $10,000 in funds for Paid Search advertising. That’s free advertising money, folks! (Thanks, Google.)

First, you need to determine if your organization is eligible to participate in this program. Take Google’s quick eligibility survey to see if your organization fits the initial application criteria. Once you’ve determined potential eligibility, the process is fairly simple to complete. Below are instructions on to apply for the Google for Nonprofits program and secure your $10,000 Google Paid Search Grant.

Step 1: Verify Your Nonprofit’s Eligibility

To get started, visit Google’s pre-qualification survey page to ensure your nonprofit organization is eligible.

Before you begin the registration process, you should have the following information available:

– Your organization’s EIN (Nonprofit ID)
– Your organization’s physical address
– Your organization’s online contact information

STEP 2: Register Your Nonprofit for TechSoup

TechSoup is a third party validation service used by Google for Nonprofits to verify an organization’s eligibility. The registration process should take about 10 minutes to complete.

There are two ways to complete the verification process. You can share your organization’s information with Google through the step-by-step Google eligibility page (who will then pass the information to TechSoup for verification), or you can register directly with TechSoup. Eligibility determination takes about 2-14 business days to complete and TechSoup will contact you directly if they need additional information as well as confirm the status of your application.

If you have already registered with TechSoup, you will need access to your verification token to complete the next steps. If you don’t know your verification token, TechSoup’s support team will be able to help.

STEP 3: Activate Google for Nonprofits Products

Once TechSoup has verified your organization’s eligibility, you are now able to activate the Google Products you wish to use.

In order to take advantage of the $10,000 Google Grant for Paid Search, you need to create a Google Ads Account. When setting up your account, pay close attention to the following steps:

Choose the correct billing country and timezone for your organization.
Choose USD as the currency (even if your organization uses another currency).
DO NOT enter a credit card when prompted. Ignore requests and emails asking you to submit payment information as this will set up a standard/paid Google Ads account.

Once you have been assigned your Google Ads 10 digit customer ID, you will need to complete the Ads Grant Pre-qualification Survey. This will identify your account as eligible for the Grants program.

STEP 4: Get Support from a Trusted Agency Partner

To ensure you’re taking full advantage of Google’s (free!) support and that your $10,000 grant is working hard for your organization, we recommend soliciting assistance from a digital marketing expert or mission-driven digital agency. We can help ensure you’re reaching your target audience, set realistic and measurable goals for your tactics, and navigate the ever-changing rules for Google Grant accounts on your behalf.