Grant Accounts in Google – Limitations & Best Practices

April 4, 2019

Google ,



It is a well-known fact that Google is one of the most successful companies in the world. They have truly revolutionised life as we know it and many of us can’t imagine life without it. In 2018, Google’s revenue amounted to $136B, and so running a Grants program to help non-profit organisations seems like the very least they can do to help give something back.

Grants accounts are entitled to spend $10,000 USD each month through Google Ads, with the aim to increase awareness as people search. This program currently works with more than 20,000 organisations in over 50 countries. At Harvest, we have been working with MND Association for over 2 years and we have recently been working in a partnership with WPN Chameleon on even more grants accounts, including British Heart Foundation, WalkTheWalk, Bank Workers Charity and more.

In order to qualify for a Google grants account, the non-profit organisation must:

  • Hold valid charity status.
  • Acknowledge and agree to Google’s required certifications regarding nondiscrimination and donation receipt and use.
  • Have a live website with substantial content.

Not only this, but in order to maintain your eligibility, there are certain rules to follow…

No single-word keywords

With the exception of authorised Brand keywords or approved medical conditions, you are not allowed to bid on single-word keywords in grants accounts. Although this may seem frustrating, it allows targeting to be more refined and relevant to the search queries triggering our ads.

No ‘overly generic’ keywords

Keywords may be disapproved for being ‘overly generic’. Ultimately, this rule is in place to improve landing page experience and ad relevance, and hence keep CTR high. This also improves cost efficiency. Below is an example of a PPC ad that we ran for our client.

A typical Google Ad to Help to Find a Cure





No keywords with a quality score of 1 or 2

It is best practice across all Google Ads accounts to avoid having keywords with a QS lower than 3, as they can drive up costs and often have little positive impact to performance of the account.

Must maintain overall CTR of 5%

With the help of the first 3 rules combined, maintaining an overall CTR of 5% or more should be a walk in the park. However, it can happen and can ultimately result in temporary account deactivation if CTR is not maintained for two consecutive months.

Must have valid conversion tracking

This is determined by at least one conversion reported per month, but not so high that the number of conversions is nearly equal to number of clicks (or more than if multiple conversion events are being tracked!) This rule helps Smart Bidding strategies work in your favour and return better results.

Max CPC of $2

With manual CPC bidding, CPCs were capped at $2. However, since March 2018, utilising Smart Bidding strategies such as ‘Maximise Conversions’, this cap ceases to exist! Google uses machine learning and automatically sets bids to optimise towards conversion volume. Although many search marketers prefer to have ultimate control over keyword bids, it is hard to say no to this loophole of increasing bids and improving ad position.

There are also rules that we would typically use as best practise as an agency across all of our clients, such as, 2 Ads per Ad group, 2 Ad groups per campaign and at least 2 site links across the account.

Best Practices

It is important for accounts to be set up in a logical way, that reflects the website, with different campaigns targeting different sections of the website, with tightly themed ad groups. This also allows us to create more specific ad copy, that resonates with the consumer. Below is the landing page used as a destination point from the PPC ad shown earlier to create the best user journey.

MNDA Homepage - A person's risk of developing MND is around 1 in 300












It is also important to segment campaigns by keyword match type, as we see greater efficiency across the account and the increased granularity allows us to optimise the accounts more easily.

Ad copy should be tailored to advertising the mission of the organisation, rather than simply advertising fundraising events and other offerings, as this will help your organisation stand out against competitor charities.

There is a lot of potential within Grants accounts and it is important to make the most of this form of free advertising. However, due to the limitations stated above, many charities also run with a paid account (a sneaky way for Google to make even more money!). Running with a paid account allows advertisers to push bids on core terms where they need to get more exposure and improve average position. Using a paid account also opens up testing of alternative offerings from Google, such as GDN and GSPs, rather than standard search ads.

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