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GuideStar Blog

Using Google Grants to build your brand

The following is a post from Diana Hand, GuideStar’s senior marketing manager.

At GuideStar we participate in Google for Nonprofits. One component is Google Grants, which gives your organization the opportunity to use the Google AdWords (search engine marketing) program, where you can advertise your website and your cause through Google Search Results.

What do you get and what does it look like?

By participating in the Google Grants program, you get a free $10,000 credit each month to spend on Google ads with a maximum $1 bid per click. Your organization is more apt to show up higher on the search engine results pages (SERPs) if you participate in Google AdWords. For example, if someone searched “form 990” you may see an ad pop-up in Google’s advertising section for GuideStar, where an organic search (unpaid) may show up on the second or third page of search results. If you spend more than $9,500 in any two months over a 12 month period, you are able to apply for a $40,000 grant, which GuideStar was lucky enough to receive back in the fall of 2011, helping our marketing efforts even more.

How did the grant program help GuideStar?

As a nonprofit, we have a very limited advertising budget, and rely solely on digital marketing – email, social media, and banner advertising – on a few relevant publications. We really needed a cost-efficient way to reach a bigger audience than we already had to build brand awareness, get more people engaged in our site, and raise more money. What’s more cost-efficient than a free $10,000 in search engine advertising? In 2011, we had a huge increase in year-over-year website visits, exceeding our goals for the year. The more visits to our site, the more we focused on conversions – getting people to register for our site and adopt our products. The more we put into it, the more we see.

GuideStar in Google search results

Who’s Eligible?

In order to be eligible to apply, an organization must be a 501(c)3 organization and recognized on the IRS website as one. However, eligibility does not apply to all: see here for more details.

If you are a 501(c)3 organization, you also need to verify that you are listed on GuideStar to be considered for Google Grants. If you are not yet listed, you can go to, register, then click on the yellow “update your report” button (shown below) and request permission to update your nonprofit report on our GuideStar Exchange.

Learn more about the program:

If you are eligible, you can learn more and apply here:

I’ll be speaking on a webinar with Amanda Chaney from Search Mojo, an agency that helps us with our Adwords program, on August 2 at 2 pm ET about the Google AdWords program. Register here and stay tuned for more from Amanda!

Diana Hand is in charge of the development and implementation of messaging and marketing plans for all GuideStar products and programs.


  • Jaclyn

July 24, 2012 at 5:15 pm

We love google grants! Although, it was little bit intense to sift through everything and make sure we did it all right. Do you have any sources for help on navigating through ad words as a nonprofit?

  • Lindsay Nichols

July 25, 2012 at 10:15 am

From Diana Hand:
Thanks for your comment, Jaclyn. Never be afraid of having too many Adwords campaigns – we have over 35 right now! Brainstorm all your offerings, audiences, events and topics you cover as a nonprofit and think about how you can create a campaign from each of those ideas. Under the ‘Tools and Analysis’ tab you can use the Keyword Tool to help you see popular search keywords for your campaigns and get an estimate of site traffic from each keyword. After a few months of testing different campaigns, you can see which ads and keywords are performing the best to focus more of your organization’s time and budget on those specific topics.

I’d suggest following @googlenonprofit on Twitter and the Google Nonprofits Blog ( for tips and updates. We’ll also have a Q&A portion at the end of the Webinar on August 2nd if you have any specific questions you’d like to ask then. You can register here:

Topics: Nonprofit Programs