Google Ads vs. Google Grant – Choosing the Right Path to Online Visibility

In the current digital landscape, where viral memes and groundbreaking discoveries battle it out for online supremacy, standing out requires a thoughtful strategy. Online advertising has emerged as a powerful nonprofit marketing tool, not just for garnering likes or increasing online revenue, but for fostering meaningful connections, attracting potential donors, and catalyzing positive societal shifts. Nonprofits who are not investing in tools, like Google Ads, can find themselves at a distinct disadvantage.

Picture Google Ads as a top-tier podium for businesses seeking to capture their audience’s attention. For larger nonprofits a media budget that includes Google Ads is a fantastic strategy to promote brand, events, mission statement and remarket to website visitors and current donors alike. But the cost-to-play with Google Ads has always placed nonprofit organizations at a disadvantage. Enter the Google Ad Grant – a separate (and complimentary) platform for nonprofits aiming to amplify their noble causes.

In this article we set out to highlight the distinct differences between Google Ads and Google Grants. Together, we’ll define how each platform is used, real life success stories and uncover the distinct benefits each avenue offers; aiding your nonprofit in making strategic and informed decisions on when to use each tool for online advertising. 

Key differences between google ads and google grants

Google Ads - Paid advertising and your nonprofit

The internet can be thought of as a bustling marketplace – with for profits and nonprofits alike out there trying to get some attention. Google Ads is your digital megaphone – it allows you to be that vendor in the marketplace with a key location at the busiest intersection. When without Google Ads you would be a small shop off on a backstreet.  Google Ads isn’t just another online billboard; it’s a precision tool that lets you put your cause front and center for those who matter most.

Relevance of Google Ads for nonprofit organizations

In the nonprofit world we often convince ourselves that there are products or tool that are great – but somehow are only meant for “for-profits”.Google Ads isn’t just for big businesses with deep pockets; it’s a dynamic stage for nonprofits too. Whether you’re a grassroots animal shelter or a global health initiative, Google Ads hands you the microphone to share your story, spark conversations, and rally support from all corners of the digital realm. It is a tool for all aspects of nonprofit marketing – brand, donations, advocacy and more.

Cost considerations for nonprofits

Nonprofits are all about stretching every dollar. Conversations about overhead, operation infrastructure and salaries are already challenging. Marketing budgets are often even harder to justify. With Google Ads, your nonprofit can be a savvy spender. You set the budget, and you only pay when someone actually takes an interest in your ad. That means every click has potential, every cent goes toward your mission, and every supporter you gain is a step closer to providing aid, making a change, or educating the global community.

We know that this doesn’t mean your nonprofit instantly has the financial means to begin spending on Google Ads but Yeeboo Digital clients to date have seen a 400% return on Google Ads investment with 1 particular client seeing a 900% ROAS. It is perfectly acceptable to slowly scale up your spend over time. Remember, with the right ads + investment your nonprofit will see all $$ invested back – and then some.

Ad formats and customization options suitable for nonprofits

Think of Google Ads as your artistic canvas – but instead of oil paints, you’re using headlines, descriptions, and images. You’ve got choices galore: snappy text ads, eye-catching banners, video ads and more. The magic of Google Ads lies in making these formats uniquely yours. Tailor your nonprofit message to tug at heartstrings, evoke empathy, or simply spread smiles – all while driving action for your cause. What made your signature event worth attending last year? How are you aiding refugees internationally? Is there a story you want to tell? Google Ads provides the base to tell many stories, in many formats, simultaneously and find the right path to your future donors.

Potential benefits of Google Ads for nonprofits

Expanding donor base and fundraising efforts

Nonprofits have top-of-mind donor acquisition these days – a recent Giving Tuesday report found that new-retained donor participation was down 18.2% year-over-year. So the drive to consistently find new donors is often top of mind. Having the ability to reach new potential constituents could help you double the cheers at your fundraising gala without doubling the cost. Reach potential supporters right when they’re looking for ways to make a difference, and gain the opportunity to convert these one time donors to long-time advocates.

Increasing awareness and community engagement

Imagine your nonprofit’s name becoming synonymous with change. With Google Ads, you’re not just speaking to the already-converted; you’re sparking conversations with people who might not even know your cause exists. It’s like a digital coffee shop – inviting locals (and not-so-locals) to join in discussions, volunteer, or become lifelong advocates. Brand awareness work and education is something many nonprofits ignore in their advertising efforts – so this can be a unique place for your nonprofit to stand out

Showcasing impact and achievements

Shouting your successes from the virtual rooftops? That’s what Google Ads is all about. Flaunt your accomplishments, share heartwarming stories, and let the world see the tangible change you’re making. Plus, with data tracking you can measure the impact of your ads down to the click, helping you fine-tune your strategy and do even more good.

Operation Smile, Google Ads

Nonprofit Success Story - Operation Smile Canada

Operation Smile Canada, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping children with cleft lip and palate deformities, partnered with Yeeboo Digital to revamp their digital marketing strategy. prior to the collaboration, their Google ad account struggled to achieve significant returns, with an average ROI of 200% year over year. Yeeboo Digital focused on brand terms and top of funnel activities, resulting in an impressive 700% average return on advertising spend (ROAS). Additionally, the introduction of additional search channels like Bing generated a remarkable 300% ROI, significantly boosting Operation Smile Canada’s ability to provide life-changing surgeries and medical care to children in need. This success demonstrates the power of effective digital marketing in supporting nonprofits and making a lasting impact.

Google Grants: Nonprofit Online Advertising

You’re a nonprofit on a mission, driven by purpose, and armed with determination to make a positive impact. Imagine having a powerful ally that boosts your voice across the digital landscape without taking away from your limited marketing budget. That’s precisely where Google Grants comes into play. The Google Ads Grant gives $10,000 each month to non-profit organizations to spend on Google Ads. Running free ads in Google Search lets your work reach thousands of potential donors who may be using keywords related to your mission OR searching for your organization online.

Eligibility criteria for nonprofit organizations

So, you’re ready to dive into the world of Google Grants? Fantastic! First things first, let’s check if you qualify. Google Grants is tailor-made for registered nonprofit organizations with 501(c)(3) status. Google has made this wonderful FAQ’s section on their website to check your eligibility.

But essentially it boils down to a combination of your nonprofit status, website, google compliance and account management.

Navigating the application process for Google Grants

Applying for Google Grants is relatively straight forward. You’ll need to craft a compelling case that showcases your nonprofit’s objectives and the positive change you’re bringing to the world. Keep in mind that Google wants to ensure that its grant is well-spent, so make sure your application shines a spotlight on your impact and potential.

Google ads/grant road map

Ad formats and customization options suitable for nonprofits

Once you’ve got your Google Grants wings, it’s time to take flight with captivating ads. Google Grants allows you to create text-based ads that resonate with your audience’s hearts and minds. Keep it simple, engaging, and aligned with your nonprofit’s ethos. After all, you’re not just selling a product; you’re championing a cause.

Advantages of Google Grants for nonprofits

1.Amplifying nonprofit mission and initiatives

Ever wished for a megaphone that could broadcast your nonprofit’s message to the world? Google Grant acts in a very similar fashion to Google Ads and can amplify your nonprofit voice on the worldwide web. By tapping into the program, you’re shining a spotlight on your mission, engaging with a wider audience, and fostering a sense of purpose-driven community.

2. Garnering support from volunteers and donors

As your ads reach potential volunteers and donors, you’re igniting a spark of interest that can lead to meaningful connections. Whether it’s lending a helping hand or making a financial contribution, Google Grants opens doors to those who are genuinely passionate about your cause.

3. Leveraging Google tools for effective outreach

Google isn’t just handing you a grant and waving you off. Nope, they’re also handing you a toolkit that’s packed with resources to boost your nonprofit’s online presence. From keyword research to analytics insights, Google Grants arms you with the tools you need to refine your outreach strategies and make the most of every digital opportunity.

Remember, Google Grants isn’t just about advertising—it’s about building a movement, fostering connections, and driving positive change. As you explore the endless possibilities, don’t hesitate to seek expert guidance to navigate this exciting terrain. Have you met the team here at Yeeboo Digital? Our team of Google certified experts & nonprofit digital marketers will help you knock your donor acquisition, newsletter subscriber and event participant goals out of the park.

Key Differences between Google Ads and Google Grants for Nonprofits

With all of the details on Ads vs Grant we have thrown at you and how both platforms work we now want to make sure you understand the key differences in these Google products. It should influence which tool you use in your nonprofit advertising.

Financial Implications

1.Google Ads: Budget Allocation Considerations

When it comes to budgeting for Google Ads, it’s all about finding the sweet spot between investment and return. As a savvy nonprofit marketer, you’re likely familiar with the pay-per-click (PPC) model. With Google Ads, you have the flexibility to decide how much you’re willing to spend on each click. More clicks potentially mean more eyes on your cause. But budgeting can feel like tightrope walking. How much should you allocate? Are you getting enough bang for your buck? It’s time to crunch those numbers and determine your nonprofit’s comfort zone.

2. Google Grants: Maximizing the $10,000/Month Grant

$10,000 per month in Google Ads budget has been gifted to your nonprofit.That’s like having your very own marketing fairy godparent. But here’s the catch—it’s not just about receiving the grant, it’s about using it wisely. How can you make the most of this golden opportunity? Crafting compelling ads, targeting the right keywords, and telling your story effectively are just the beginning. Let’s dive into the art of turning that grant into impactful change.

Nonprofit Success Story - Thrive DC

Thrive DC a non-profit organization that acts at scale to mitigate the risk of increasing homelessness in Washington, DC. With the use of the Google Ad grant, Thrive DC increased their online donations by 38% from 2017 to 2018.

The Thrive DC website has become so visible that now Thrive DC receives enough volunteer applications online and no longer spends time recruiting. This saves 40 days of work every year, and with the additional resources available, helps Thrive DC match the cost of 5,400 doctor appointments for the community.

This nonprofit success story is a great example on the use of the Google Ad Grant for more than just solicitation of donations.

Nonprofit-Specific Ad Policies

1.Google Ads: Ad Customization within Nonprofit Guidelines

So, you’re a nonprofit trailblazer with a message that deserves a megaphone. Google Ads lets you customize your ads to suit your brand’s personality and mission. But hold on, there’s a fine line here. While you have the creative freedom to stand out, you’ve got to ensure your messaging aligns with nonprofit guidelines. How can you infuse your unique style and message while staying within the lines?

2. Google Grants: Ad Restrictions Aligned with Nonprofit Objectives

Welcome to the world of Google Grants, where your ads dance to a nonprofit beat. Think of it as a curated playlist of keywords that resonate with your cause. These keywords are like notes in a symphony—each one contributing to the harmony of your campaign. But, remember, Google Grants comes with its own set of ad restrictions. How do you strike the balance between creative expression and nonprofit alignment? Let’s explore the art of playing by the rules while still hitting those high notes.

Impact Measurement and Reporting

1.Google Ads: Advanced Tracking and Analytics Insights

In the Google Ads arena, every click, every view, every interaction is a valuable data point. It allows you, the nonprofit marketer, a backstage pass to user behavior. Advanced tracking and analytics tools empower you to peek behind the curtain and understand how your audience is engaging with your ads. But remember, it’s not just about the data—it’s about decoding it to uncover actionable insights.

2. Google Grants: Measuring Success and Adjusting Strategies

In the realm of Google Grants, measuring success takes on a slightly different rhythm. You’re not just chasing profits; you’re chasing purpose. Metrics like engagement, awareness, and community impact take center stage. How many volunteers did you attract? How much did your cause resonate? Impact and influence, and your success stories are all metrics you are now trying to pay attention to. So, how do you ensure your steps are in sync with your nonprofit’s mission? Get ready to fine-tune your routine and adjust strategies based on your ad sets and audience.

Balancing these two very different platforms, with different abilities, often takes an advanced understanding of Google Ads that many nonprofit professionals will not have had an opportunity to study up on. Nonprofit agency partnerships can often make your nonprofit’s voice resonate across the digital landscape quicker than when your nonprofit goes it alone.

Choosing the Right Path: Tailoring Your Approach

Considerations for nonprofit goals and resources

As a savvy nonprofit professional, you understand that every penny counts. When deciding between Google Ads and Google Grants, assess your goals and resources. Are you looking to boost immediate donations or foster long-term community engagement? Consider whether investing in Google Ads’ targeted campaigns aligns with your budget or if the Google Grants program can help you achieve your objectives effectively.

Crafting a strategy based on organizational objectives

Crafting a winning strategy means aligning your online advertising efforts with your nonprofit’s core objectives. If you’re aiming to drive volunteer sign-ups, tailor your approach to emphasize the social impact your organization makes. On the other hand, if fundraising is your primary focus, consider Google Ads’ precision in reaching potential donors. It’s all about creating a customized roadmap that resonates with your nonprofit’s unique mission.

Steps to optimize results with Google Ads or Google Grants

Whether you’re venturing into the realm of Google Ads or harnessing the power of Google Grants, success lies in optimization. Regularly analyze your campaign performance, fine-tune keywords, and leverage compelling visuals that resonate with your audience. Remember, in the digital landscape, adaptation is key. Stay attuned to evolving trends and adjust your approach to keep your nonprofit at the forefront of online engagement.


As a nonprofit professional, you’re in the business of making a difference. Leveraging the power of online advertising can magnify your impact, enabling you to reach a broader audience, attract more supporters, and drive resources to your cause. The digital era offers unprecedented opportunities for nonprofits to tell their stories and create lasting change. And advertising using Google’s suite of products can help drive your nonprofit forward and leverage small budgets in to revenue.

In a summary of what we learned in this article, Google Ads and Google Grants are two distinct avenues, each with its unique advantages. Google Ads offers immediate visibility with tailored ads, while Google Grants provides nonprofits with a budget-friendly way to spread their message far and wide. Understanding these distinctions empowers you to make an informed decision that suits your nonprofit’s aspirations.

So, whether you choose the dynamic world of Google Ads or opt for the Google Grants program, take that bold step towards expanding your nonprofit’s reach and influence. As you embark on this journey, remember that Yeeboo Digital stands ready to guide you. With our expertise in the nonprofit sector and online advertising, we’re committed to helping you navigate this exciting terrain and achieve remarkable outcomes for your organization. Your mission is our passion. Let’s make a difference together.

Tasha Van Vlack

Tasha Van Vlack (article author) is a nonprofit connector, marketer and advocate. She works closely with the Yeeboo Digital team to curate excellent resources that will support nonprofit professionals in advancing their missions.

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