All the Google Ad Grants rule changes, listed in one place

On January 1st, 2018, Google drastically changed the rules of their Ad Grants program, part of Google for Nonprofits. Beginning March 1st, 2018, non-compliant accounts will be suspended until they fix the issue and request reinstatement from Google.

These changes are massive, and will undoubtedly affect your nonprofit. They are listed below for your information. You can use this post as a checklist to make sure your Adwords account is in compliance; it will be updated with any new changes.

To get your specific questions answered by a Google-certified professional, contact us below to receive a free consultation on Ad Grants.

Do you currently have a Google Ad Grants Account?

Google Ads

Adwords account structure & performance

  • The $2/bid limit has been lifted, but campaigns must install Adwords tracking on their websites.
    • Accounts with over 500 clicks a month must also use “Maximize Conversions” bid strategy
    • The $329/day and $10k/mo limits remain
  • Ad Grants Adwords accounts must maintain a 5% click-through rate (CTR) each month.
    • You will receive a notification in Adwords if your account is in jeopardy.
  • Adwords Express accounts are exempted from the 5% CTR minimum, and the tracking code requirement because Google automatically manages most of the campaign.
  • If the 5% standard isn’t met for two consecutive months, the account will be cancelled.
  • Ad Grants accounts must have geo-targeting to show ads in relevant locations.
  • Ad Grants accounts must have:
  • The following groups of keywords are off-limits:
    • Keywords with a Quality Score of 2 or less
    • Overly generic keywords like “free videos”, “e-books”, “today’s news”, “easy yoga”, “download games”, “job alert”, names of places and names of historical events/people
    • Branded words that you don’t own like “Urban Outfitters”, “Google”, or any competitor’s branded words
      • This likely includes brand terms of affiliated organizations, too, even if they’re partners with you.
    • Single-word keywords excluding your own branded words, recognized medical conditions, and these excepted keywords:
      • donate
      • donation
      • ngo
      • ngos
      • nonprofit
      • nonprofits
      • charities
      • homeless
      • homelessness
      • MOOC
      • suicide
      • abuse
      • abused
      • abuser
      • molester
      • molestation
      • rape
      • trafficking
      • addiction
      • stigma
      • bullying
      • bully
      • bullied
      • cyberbullying
      • abortion
      • adoption
      • Terms with dashes, periods, or special characters are not treated as single-word keywords
  • Grantspro accounts with $40k/mo budget will be reduced to $10k.

Ad Grants Engagement Survey

  • Your nonprofit will be required to complete the annual Ad Grants survey.
    • The survey will be sent to the admin email addresses in your account. Make sure you are opted in to email notifications from Adwords.
    • Complete the survey if your account is suspended for missing the deadline. It will trigger a reinstatement process

Website standards

  • Your ads may only point to the domain approved during your application process, and domains added via the additional domain request form.
  • Your organization must own the domain linked from your ad.
  • Your website must be functional and high-quality
    • Your site must have a robust and clear description of your organization and mission. Each webpage must have sufficient information for visitors to understand your organization’s purpose.
    • Your website must function well and not contain broken links.
    • Your ads, keywords, and website may not make claims that promise results after a consultation, service, or purchase. Claims on your website must cite verifiable references to provide transparency to users.
  • Your website can’t be dedicated to commercial activity
    • Commercial activity must not be the main purpose of your website. This includes sales of products and services, consultations, lead generation, and providing referrals.
    • Any limited commercial activities must support your non-monetary mission.
    • If your organization charges for products or services, your website must describe how your organization uses funds, for example, by disclosing an annual report.
  • Your website must have little-to-no ads
    • Advertising on your organization’s website must be relevant to your mission and not be obtrusive to users.
    • Your website may not host Google AdSense ads or affiliate advertising links. If you’re required to link to an AdSense account to receive payments for the Android market, you’re eligible as long as you don’t display AdSense ads on your website.

What to do now

If you’re having trouble meeting these requirements, you can switch your account to Adwords Express until you’ve solved all the issues (Express is exempted from suspension). You can do this yourself or by calling Adwords support.

Sources:  Account management policy, website policy, mission based campaigns, Ad Grants single keyword exceptions, Google Ad Grants terms and conditions

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8 thoughts on “All the Google Ad Grants rule changes, listed in one place”

  1. Gravatar image of Brett

    Great article. I’m always keeping tabs on the Google Grant with you guys! (I run dozens of them so I have to keep up with what’s going on).

  2. Gravatar image of David Spector

    A very nice summary. Most of the less-specific requirements are not enforced literally as written here. For example, the primary purpose of a charity may be to distribute specific educational materials for which there is a minimal charge for the costs of printing and mailing. This is allowed, contrary to what is stated on this page.

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