Google Adword Grants – Use ‘Em Well Or Lose ‘Em

Yesterday, Non Profit Quarterly had an article mentioning that a goodly number of non-profit organizations had their $10,000 Adwords Grants shutdown by Google for not meeting standards that were rolled out in January.  Drew McManus warned this was a possibility back in January in an ArtsHacker post.

If you have an Adwords grant from Google, you may want to check on your status. NPQ warns that if your account gets suspended, Google has additional criteria for getting it restored.

A lot of the criteria seem aimed at making sure the non-profit organization is actively trying to make effective use of the grant. The click through rate on your ads has to be above 5%. You can’t just use one keyword and the keywords need to be associated with your mission. Your geographic target needs to reflect the communities you serve.

Not mentioned in the ArtsHacker post and associated articles, but appearing in the NPQ piece is that Google is apparently verifying that the links in Adwords are going to websites owned by the grantee. So if you use a third party site to provide ticketing or process donations, you need to be very careful. It does appear that you can get the use of those sites cleared by Google.

Additionally, your website should be entirely dedicated to your non-profit purpose.

Owned and operated website

Your organization must own the domain that users land on when they click your ad.

High-quality website

Your website must function well and not contain broken links.
Your site must have a robust and clear description of your organization and mission. Each web page must have sufficient information for visitors to understand your organization’s purpose.
Your ads, keywords, and website may not make claims that promise results after a consultation, service, or purchase. Claims on your website must cite verifiable references to provide transparency to users.

Commercial activity

Commercial activity must not be the main purpose of your website. This includes sales of products and services, consultations, lead generation, and providing referrals.


Another noteworthy change is that grantees can only direct paid search users to approved domains, so be careful when using donation sites or landing pages that are located on related subdomains before receiving approval.

If any of this makes you concerned, take a look at the NPQ article and revisit the terms and conditions of your Adwords account.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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