Google Grants: Give Back by Using Your Paid Search Skills

Posted by Matt Cardoni, Account Director

Many people don’t know that Google offers advertising grants—worth up to $10,000 per month in AdWords paid search ads—to non-political/non-religious charitable organizations that help the world in areas like science and technology, education, public health, the environment, youth advocacy and the arts.  If the organization leverages the Google Grant to its potential by spending at least $9,500 per month for two consecutive months, it can apply for a $30,000-per-month extension, equaling $40,000 per month in AdWords ads—for FREE!

As paid search experts, Google Grants are a perfect opportunity to give back to the community by using our skill sets.  They’re also a great way to learn (or teach others) how to optimize paid search campaigns.  Applying for a Google Grant requires a couple of steps.  First, you must be approved to apply for a Grant by filling out an application for the Google for Nonprofits program, which requires an official organization email address, as well as tax information.  After being approved, you create example ads and keywords, and submit a full Google Grant application.  The waiting period for approval ranges from two weeks to six months.  For more specific info on how to apply for a Google Grant, check out my full presentation, Google Grants: A Public Service Announcement.

Google Grants in Action

I obtained several Google Grants for environmental- and civil rights-based nonprofits.  These Grants provide each organization with up to $10,000 per month in Google paid search ads.  But because of time constraints, I wasn’t able to manage the Grants to their full potential. 


A couple of months ago, the University of Iowa MBA program approached me asking for resources about online marketing that they could use to get their students hands-on exposure and training.  Because Google Grants are such a great way for people to learn hands-on digital marketing skills, I came up with the idea of having the MBA students manage the Grants.  Following through with this idea, I went to the Iowa campus and trained thirty students on paid search and analytics basics.  The students also made a class trip to Performics here in Chicago for a few more training sessions.

Armed with paid search skills and using the Google Grants Adwords accounts as a sandbox, the student teams now manage the nonprofits’ paid search campaigns.  The students gain hands-on experience in AdWords and Google Analytics, which helps them be more marketable in the workforce (they also plan to get Google certified from the experience, another resume-booster).  The non-profit organizations gain the benefit of free online marketing help, and the world benefits as these awesome organizations are getting more visibility when people search for things like “help the Earth,” “solar panels in schools,” and “benefits of marriage equality.”  With the resources to optimize the grants to their potential, we’re currently on pace to spend at least $9,500 per month for the next two months, which would enable us to apply for the $40,000 per month Grants!  I’ve also reached out to Google to gauge interest in scaling this model. 

Now you know about Google Grants, a unique way to give back on a regular basis by using your daily skill set.  And, even if you don’t have the time to closely manage the Grants yourself, consider teaching others; Grants enable them to hone valuable digital marketing skills while aiding the community.

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