Major Google Ad Grant Policy Changes – How to Bid Above $2.00 and the New Requirements to Stay Activated

by Cameron Ripley  |   |  Google Ad Grants  |  10 comments

5 min to read

Google is announcing substantial modifications to the Google Ad Grant with the aim of incentivizing the nonprofit sector to leverage their $10,000 per month Google Ad Grant to drive as much quality site traffic and online conversions as possible.


Top three items your nonprofit needs to know about the latest Google Ad Grant changes:

  1. Bid Above $2.00 per Click – Maximize Conversions Bidding Strategy: Your organization can now bid above the $2.00 cost per click limit by taking advantage of Maximize Conversion Bidding Strategy. This change in policy will empower more nonprofits to increase quality conversions and move the needle on online revenue.
  2. Mandatory to Achieve Above a 5% Click-Thru Rate: Your organization must maintain above a 5% click-thru rate (CTR) or else your Google Ad Grant will be deactivated
  3. Mandatory Google Ad Grant Quality Checklist: Last, it is clear that the Google Ad Grants team is heavily pushing quality. Google has implemented an array of other mandatory requirements to ensure quality is of the utmost importance. We created a Google Ad Grant Quality Checklist for nonprofits to review and guarantee that their organization is in full compliance. 

Major Google Ad Grant Policy Changes Published December 13th, 2017


Maximize Conversion Bidding Strategy: How to bid Above $2.00 per Click – Available Immediately for Grantees

Here at Community Boost, we have been testing Maximize Conversions Bidding Strategy recently for our nonprofit partners. from our analysis, we believe this update will be instrumental in helping the nonprofit ad grant community achieve their goals and further their missions.

In layman’s terms, Maximize Conversions bidding is an AdWords Smart Bidding Strategy that automatically sets bids to help drive the most conversions for a campaign. When an organization uses the Maximize Conversions bidding feature, the nonprofit will no longer be subject to the Ad Grants program-level bid cap of $2.00 USD.

Before a nonprofit is able to utilize this new bidding strategy, they must first set up conversion tracking. Google’s machine learning continually learns and optimizes bids for each individual search auction. Leveraging historical data about an organization’s campaign and listening to contextual auction signals, maximize conversions bidding will automatically find an optimal cost per click bid for a nonprofit’s ad to drive conversion volume. The $2.00 cost per click limit still applies to all grantees, however, when enabling maximize conversions bidding your ad grant account will and is allowed to bid and generate clicks over $2.00.

It is recommended to leverage Maximize Conversion Bidding Strategy when your Ad Grant account is recording over 15 conversions per month and generating at least 20 clicks per day.If there are specific keywords your organization would like to manually control (for example, lower cost branded keywords), you can move these keywords to a new campaign. Last, when enabling maximize conversion bidding we suggest allowing the strategy seven days to learn and adjust to drive more conversions prior to making additional changes.


Ad Grantees Must Maintain Above a 5% Click-Thru Rate to Stay Activated – Effective January 1st, 2018

Another critical improvement worth noting is effective January 1st, all nonprofit ad grantee accounts must maintain above a 5% click-thru rate. This requirement will undoubtedly dramatically impact the nonprofit sector. Here at Community Boost when we provide complimentary Ad Grant account audits, most Ad Grant accounts we look at typically have a 1.5% to 4% click-thru rate.

According to the updated Google Ad Grant terms and conditions, Ad Grantees are only allowed to go two consecutive months below the 5% CTR threshold or else the account will be deactivated.



Be sure to actively monitor in-product notifications within your AdWords account. This is how Google will communicate with your organization.


Mandatory Google Ad Grant Quality Checklist & Other Ad Grant Requirement Updates

While we certainly recommend nonprofit’s to fully review Google’s updated Ad Grant policy, we have also compiled a Google Ad Grant Quality Checklist to ensure your organization not only stays compliant but drives as much revenue and impact possible.

In addition to Ad Grantees having to maintain above a 5% CTR, Google’s latest update clearly notes the following mandatory requirements to stay active:

  • – Grantees must be organized and operated exclusively for charitable purposes
  • – Ads, keywords, or destinations that promote hatred, intolerance, discrimination, or violence are strictly prohibited
  • – Do not bid on any branded keywords that are not your own (ie. competitors)
  • – Must remove kws with quality scores of 2 or less
  • – Geo-targeting is required
  • – Organizations are required to respond to annual Ad Grants survey
  • – If your organization charges for services, your website must describe how your organization uses funds, for example, by disclosing an annual report.
  • – At least 2 active ad groups per campaign each containing a set of closely related keywords and 2 active text ads
  • – At least 2 sitelink ad extensions
  • – Avoid targeting single-word keywords (unless brands or medical conditions and some exceptions apply) or overly generic multi-word keywords (ie “download books”, “todays news”


*Grants PRO Update*

Legacy GrantsPro policies are now retired (no need to spend full budget each month, the emphasis is now on quality as the 1% CTR is replaced at the program-wide 5%.


It is clear that Google’s major Ad Grant policy updates are designed to incentivize quality AdWords strategy and campaign builds. Google definitely wants to see charitable organization’s tracking conversions and understanding the revenue and impact a nonprofit’s Google Ad Grant account is generating.

While implementing these changes might feel daunting in the short-term, overall, Ad Grant accounts will likely see improved conversion results by tackling the changes quickly. It is truly amazing that Google has given charitable organization’s over $10,000 per month in in-kind Google advertising for over fifteen years.

The nonprofit’s that strategize, implement and execute the fastest in response to Google’s major ad grant update will naturally rise to the top of one of the highest impact marketing traction channels in the sector.

Cameron Ripley


  1. Sea Run Brookie, on December 16, 2017 at 4:27 pm

    This is going to be extremely hard for our niche – and many other highly targeted small niche focused orgs.

    There simply isn’t that level of traffic, and if we needed 20 clicks a day, we would NEVER get the desired conversion rate.

    Unless they allow certain tricks (and there are many tricks) however I am willing to be they won’t allow most.

    This is going to be very interesting for small non-profits like ours.


    1. Cameron Ripley, on December 16, 2017 at 8:24 pm

      Hi Sean, while it’s certainly a big change to say the least, it’s definitely possible to still drive strong results from the Google Ad Grant. Our initial testing of the Maximize Conversion Bidding is looking strong for nonprofit partners. The more conversions you are tracking, the faster the AI will learn in regards to max conversion bidding strategy. Let us know if you need any support, we would be happy to do a complimentary audit and help strategize and prioritize any changes you should implement.


  2. armando, on December 20, 2017 at 9:54 pm

    Amazing information!


  3. Diana, on January 12, 2018 at 11:30 pm

    Google will reactivate the account if the non-profit brings their conversion rate up to 5%. Once the org fixes the issues that aren’t performing well, they can call Google support with their customer ID +1-844-756-8495


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