New Google Grants changes sees charities pushed for higher quality ads

Ben Matthews

By Ben Matthews

In Google Ads, Moments

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Google has announced a new restriction to its Google Grants policy as part of an attempt to increase the quality of Google Ad Grants throughout the charity sector.

In an email sent to over 35,000 recipients of Google Ad Grants, Google explained that they have “recently reviewed our policies to add clarity and raise standards of quality for our free advertising grants.” The review has resulted in three major changes: no bid cap for maximize conversions bidding, a minimum Click Through Rate (CTR) of 5%, and no use of single keywords.

Check out our Google Grants checklist to make sure you keep compliant with Google Adwords!

What are the changes to Google Ad Grants?

The changes have been outlined in the Google Adwords support section and a discussion thread in the Google Advertising Community, with the changes outlined in a set of updated policies.

The updated Google Grant policies are here:

Here is a summary of the main changes to Google Grants.

1. No bid cap for maximize conversions bidding

The first major change is that they are lifting the program’s $2.00 USD bid cap when using Maximize conversions bidding, as it automatically sets bids based on performance.

This is great news for charities looking to maximise their email signups or donations, as they can now bid against more competitive keywords or bigger charities.

2. Minimum Click Through Rate (CTR) of 5%

The second major change is that all Google Grant accounts need to maintain a minimum CTR of 5%. The required CTR was previously 1%, so this is a huge jump.

If you do not hit this 5% CTR minimum for 2 months in a row, they risk losing their Google Grant status.

3. No use of single keywords

Lastly, single word keywords are now not allowed unless under specific circumstances. So no more targeting single-issue words like “refugees” or “cancer”.

There are some exceptions to this, including:

  • branded words
  • recognized medical conditions
  • basic keywords relating directly to supporting a charity.
  • a small number of specific exception keywords, published here.

4. Other Google Ad Grant Changes

There are a few other changes that are less impactful than the above changes:

  • Keywords with a Quality Score of 2 or less are no longer permitted.
  • Names of places and names of historical events/people aren’t permitted.

All accounts must now also include:

  • specific geo-targeting to show ads in locations relevant to your nonprofit. It’s not enough to just target worldwide.
  • 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. It’s not clear whether this is across the account, or per campaign.

When will the Google Grant changes apply?

The changes will all be effective 1st January 2018 for all Google Ad Grantees, so now is a good time to get a Google Grant Account checkup.

Google will also be running upcoming webinars, video snippets and local events to help support charities with the changes.

If you need help adapting to these changes to Google Grants or want to run an audit to check the compliance of your Google Grants account, get in touch with Empower or email me directly at

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