Google Grants - The real story

Friday, March 14, 2008 | 9:21 AM


When we launched this blog, we touched on the premise of the Google Grants program: providing free advertising on Google to non-profits that share our philosophy of community service.

What this program amounts to is thousands of organizations' ads showing on our site as sponsored links next to search-results pages. We hope that, as a result, many new eyes will see the important messages and causes of your organizations around the world.

While this concept seems pretty simple, it does raise misconceptions from time to time, so we thought we'd chat about some of the most common ones and let you discuss these and other Google Grants related topics in our discussion group.

Myth #1: Google Grants gives money

Truth: Google Grants gives free advertising on to non-profit organizations worldwide, but it doesn't award financial grants of any kind.

Myth #2: Google Grants ads show when Google doesn't have a targeted ad for a webpage

Truth: Google Grants ads are targeted and show on just like other AdWords ads. All ads are shown and ranked based on their Quality Score x Max Cost-per-Click (CPC) bid. You can read more about Quality Score and which factors contribute to it for each of your keyword-targeted ads on

Myth #3: All you have to do is apply and, once you're in, answer a few questions every now and then. There is virtually no time commitment and nothing to learn.

Truth: There's plenty to learn about AdWords, regardless of your current online marketing savvy—and it's definitely worthwhile, since it'll help you make the most of your opportunity. And since managing a Google Grants account is different from an ordinary AdWords account, some additional education is necessary. Online training is available for learning about the program, setting up your account, interpreting reports, setting up Google Analytics with your Google Grants account and scheduling reports.

Myth #4: You are guaranteed $10K worth of traffic to your website.

Truth: The volume of clicks and traffic coming to your site varies depending on your organization's breadth and focus. For example, international organizations often receive more traffic than local groups, and cancer advocacy non-profits may see more traffic than groups focused on rarer diseases.

Any new traffic to your site also depends on your Google Grants AdWords campaigns. Learning how to set up, track and maintain an effective account is crucial to increasing traffic and conversions for your organization's site. Take a look at the AdWords Basics section on this blog to get tips for managing your account.

Myth #5: Having a Google Grants account guarantees that you'll be included in Google's search results.

Truth: The organic search results on are entirely separate and independent from AdWords and the Google Grants program. Nonetheless, using Google Grants is an effective way to get more exposure for your organization, especially if your group does not have high ranking in Google's search results.

By maintaining an effective Google Grants AdWords account, you can control the messages your audience sees about your organization by customizing your ad text, something you can't control with organic results.

Myth #6: My Google Grant has been active for three months. It will expire soon so we need to reapply.

Truth: Google Grants are awarded for a minimum of three months, and typically we notify you at least 30 days before your grant award expires. However, Google does reserve the right to terminate your organization's participation in the Google Grants program for any reason without notice at any time.

Moreover, grant awards often run longer than the minimum award period. As long as your account remains active in our program, we encourage you to make the most of the free ads. Note that, once your grant expires, you are no longer eligible for the program so there is no need to reapply.

If you're wondering about different aspects of the program, check around the Google Grants Help Group and see if someone else has started a discussion about it or reach out to our group directly to get the real story.