How Changes to the Google Grants for Non-Profits T&Cs Will Impact Charities

How Changes to the Google Grants for Non-Profits T&Cs Will Impact Charities

You may have heard about the latest changes to the Google Adwords Non-Profit terms and conditions. Simply put, as of January 2018, all charity Adwords accounts utilising the free grants feature must aim for a 5% click-through rate. Accounts that fail to generate this minimum click-through rate for 2 consecutive months are likely to face a temporary cancellation of their account.

Which Charities Will Be Hit The Hardest?

This change will likely only impact grants accounts whose click-through rates are well under the 5% CTR mark. One thing to bear in mind is that the 5% click-through rate threshold is not set at the keyword, ad group or campaign level, but on the account-wide level. This means that you can still have ad groups or campaigns generating lower CTRs, but you must reach an overall CTR of 5% across your entire Adwords account during a monthly cycle.

The biggest impact this will have is amongst charitable organisations that bid on broader keywords, which predominantly generate high traffic volumes but naturally lower CTRs. If these types of keywords generate a constant stream of valuable conversions for the business – donations, signups, volunteer requests, etc – then these organisations will likely be impacted, as it will be these high-traffic, high-impression parts of the account that will likely be the main cause of account-wide low CTR. Pausing these valuable keywords, ad groups or campaigns will likely cause some downturn in valuable conversions for your charitable organisation.

However, let’s remember – the Google Grants for Non-Profits scheme provides advertisers with up to $10,000 per month in free clicks. Given that the service is free of charge, pausing some of your Adwords keywords is unlikely to make your organisation go bust. If your organisation relies on these keywords, then consider creating a separate, paid-for account for your organisation, targeting the keywords which generate a lower CTR. If your organisation relies on these keywords to survive, then something is clearly wrong at the organisation level, not the Adwords level.

How Charities Can Increase Their CTR

Given that the maximum cost per click on an Adwords Grant account is just $2, some might argue that there is little hope for many advertisers, but this is not necessarily so. Here are some basic techniques to consider:

Bid On Your Organisation’s Brand Name

People searching for your brand are far more likely to click-through to this than other, general search terms. Whilst I’m not particularly an advocate of busineses bidding on their own brand (because it doesn’t really acquire new leads or customers), for the purposes of keeping your ad grant account at 5%, this could help you to increase your overall account-level CTR to the minimum requirement.

Pause high-impression, low-click keywords

Set your date range to the past six months and view your keywords at the account level. Now, create a filter and set it to show all keywords with fewer than 5 clicks. Sort the report in order of impressions – you are now looking at high impression keywords with minimal (if any) clicks. Pause any keywords that generate high volumes of impressions but seldom generate clicks. This will help you to quickly reduce your overall CTR, without impacting too much on overall traffic volumes.

Pause poor performing ads

Drill-down into all ad groups with a CTR lower than 3%, and examine the ads you are using in these ad groups. Are there ads with a lower CTR which are bringing down the ad group’s overall CTR? If so, pause these ads, or rewrite them so that they are more on-point.

Check how your changes would have impacted your CTR historically

If you’ve paused any keywords or ad groups with poor CTR, you can gauge what impact this would have had if you had carried out this process historically. To do this, simply change your Adwords reporting to All Enabled when navigating your Campaigns, Ad Groups or Keywords, as per the following screenshot:

Once you change your reporting to All Enabled, scroll to the bottom of Adwords and compare your entire account performance (during a time when these keywords, ad groups or campaigns were live), and then examine your new Filtered reporting to see how it has improved. In the below example, some minor changes have increased the click-through rate from 5.09% – barely over the threshold – to 5.72%, putting the account in much safer waters.

Make Use of Ad Extensions

Structured Snippets, Sitelinks (which are now a requirement in ad grant accounts), callouts – all of these are features you should be utilising to maximise your ad’s relevance and help to improve your quality score and CTRs. So, if you haven’t already added ad extensions to your adverts, make a point of doing this now!

Target Niche Keywords

If you’ve been bidding broadly, examine the historical, actual search queries which generated clicks through these broad keywords, and target them directly. It is likely you can simply change your keyword targeting to reduce unnecessary impressions.

Final Thoughts

The above is just a brief summary of some of the quick fixes you can make to your account to maximise your CTR instantly. I could go into detail about making sure that your landing pages and ad text are properly optimised for quality score, but this all goes without saying and I’m sure you wouldn’t have received much traffic if you hadn’t already passed this initial Adwords hurdle.

Lastly, do not fear the 5% click-through rate! Whilst I appreciate that CTR differs from industry to industry, a few quick changes will have your Adwords CTR back to a far healthier 5% in no time.



  1. February 4, 2018 / 7:43 pm

    That summarises it nicely.

    Would like to add if I may, that there’s an ongoing conversation about the new rules in the Google Ad Grant section of the Google Advertisers forum. The Google Ad Grants team are giving advice to nonprofits there, and also having discussions about how the new rules are being implemented and problems encountered along the way. The forum is at and well worth following if you have a grant and are concerned about how to stay compliant.

    • RJ Lewis
      February 15, 2018 / 3:54 pm

      Hi Jason, thanks for the extra info!

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