Learn why the Microsoft Ad Grant is a powerful resource for nonprofits.

The Basics of Microsoft Ad Grants – Nonprofit Catalog

In a world driven by digital marketing, nonprofits have to do what they can to stand out online. The Microsoft Ad Grant unlocks the power of search engine marketing for any sized nonprofit! All you have to do is target the keywords your supporters are searching for online and then write compelling ads that speak to those individuals.

What Is The Microsoft Ad Grant?

Known officially as Microsoft Ads for Social Impact, this program provides approved organizations with $3,000 each month to spend on advertising across Microsoft’s digital search and native advertising network. Participating organizations can boost their web content across Bing, Yahoo, AOL, outlook.com, MSN, and Microsoft Edge.

By strategically choosing keywords and boosting the right landing pages, your nonprofit can increase site conversions and fulfill all sorts of organizational goals, like:

  • Increasing funding through more donations, ticket sales, and sponsorships
  • Boosting awareness for your cause by sharing educational content
  • Creating change in your community by amplifying advocacy opportunities
  • Growing your volunteer base by promoting volunteer opportunities

Similar to Google Grants, all you have to do is meet the eligibility requirements, apply, and create ads that resonate with prospective supporters.

Note that for now, Microsoft Ad Grants are only available to U.S.-based nonprofits.

Eligibility Requirements For Microsoft Ad Grants

As with any corporate giving program, Microsoft only wants reputable organizations to participate. After all, anyone who participates will be associated with the Ads for Social Impact program, so if unsavory content is promoted, users will view Microsoft as responsible for allowing the ad to run.

Luckily, the criteria are pretty easy to meet for most organizations. Here’s what’s required to receive the Microsoft Ad Grant:

  • Recognized legal status. Your organization must be a nonprofit or non-governmental organization with recognized legal status. This means U.S. organizations must be registered as 501(c)(3) organizations with the IRS. Public libraries and museums are also eligible.
  • A not-for-profit mission. Your organization should operate on a not-for-profit basis and pursue a mission that benefits the local community.
  • No discriminatory policies. You cannot have a policy or mission of discrimination based on race, sex, age, marital status, sexual orientation, political affiliation, or any other area.
  • Adequate website content. The goal of the program is to boost mission-based web content. Applicants must have a functional website that provides adequate details about the nonprofit.
Make sure you meet these eligibility requirements for Microsoft Ad Grants before applying.

Best of all, unlike traditional grants, you don’t have to compete for the funds. Any eligible organization will receive the full $3,000 dollars.

Tips For Making the Most of Microsoft Ad Grants

Search engine marketing is usually an expensive strategy. Microsoft puts it into reach for nonprofits that couldn’t normally afford the extra spending. However, the Microsoft Ad Grant is only as powerful as you make it! Let’s dive into a few tips for squeezing the most out of your Microsoft Ad Grant budget.

Use it in conjunction with Google Grants.

If you’re interested in Microsoft Ad Grants, there’s a good chance you already leverage or have at least heard about Google Ad Grants. If not, get ready for another great marketing opportunity!

Google offers a similar program where they offer nonprofits $10,000 in ad spending. Both Microsoft and Google’s programs have their perks. While Google has the obvious benefit of a larger budget, Microsoft’s platforms have fewer advertisers and therefore lower competition.

Luckily, you don’t have to choose to participate in one or the other. In fact, you have a lot to gain from using them both and creating complementary strategies. You might:

  • Target lower-volume, bottom-of-the-sales funnel keywords with Microsoft. Microsoft’s advertising platform has a higher impression share and cheaper costs per clicks (CPCs) than Google, making it easier to target specific buying terms.
  • Speak to different audiences with your ads. Users in the Microsoft Search Network tend to be older, big spenders, in committed relationships, and wealthy. Google’s users tend to be younger and more tech-savvy. Knowing this, you can take different angles with your ads to speak to these audiences.

Tapping into both programs will allow you to reach an astounding 93% of internet users based on each platform’s current search engine market share. Know that tackling both programs will take a lot of time, though. You might need to turn to a nonprofit search engine marketing agency to leverage both.

Use ad extensions.

Construct stronger ads by building them out with ad extensions. The more robust your ads are, the more they’ll stand out from other advertisements.

Microsoft gives you plenty of options to choose from, including:

  • Callout extensions: Use these to add snippets of non-clickable text that highlight information about your organization and its services. Each account, campaign, or ad group can be associated with 2 to 20 callout extensions.
  • Sitelink extensions: Link to additional pages on your website to provide other ways for users to engage with your organization.
  • Action extensions: Create CTA buttons for your ads. These clickable buttons will appear next to your ad’s description, and you can choose from 62 different options like “Donate,” “Subscribe,” and “Learn more.”

In Getting Attention’s guide to Microsoft Ad Grants, they provide an excellent example of these extensions in action. Take a look at how The Salvation Army built out an ad using ad extensions:

This screenshot shows how you can use extensions to build out ads using the Microsoft Ad Grant.

Set clear goals for your campaigns.

Like we mentioned, nonprofits can achieve a wide range of goals through the Microsoft Ad Grants program.

If you want to boost your volunteer numbers, create campaigns centered around volunteer recruitment where you boost your volunteer registration and information pages.

To increase funding, promote your donation form, specific campaign pages, or your how-to-give page.

If you want to increase event attendance, promote webpages with information about your webinars, 5Ks, conferences, and other events.

To increase advocacy participation, share your online petitions and advocacy event pages.

With clear goals for your campaigns, you can choose the right keywords, pick the correct landing pages, and compose compelling ad copy that will drive more users to convert. The sky is the limit!

Additional Resources

Nonprofit Catalog – Read up on more nonprofit essentials by exploring our Nonprofit Catalog.

The Microsoft Ad Grant: An Essential Nonprofit Tool – Dive further into the program with our ultimate guide to Microsoft Ad Grants.

Nonprofit Marketing Ideas: Promote Your Cause Effectively – Learn how opportunities like Microsoft Ad Grants can take your marketing to the next level.

Learn all about how the Google Ad Grant can strengthen your marketing efforts.

The Basics of Google Ad Grants – Nonprofit Catalog

Backed by Google Ad Grants, you have the power to strengthen your digital marketing, supercharge your fundraising efforts, and connect with more prospects than ever. Just make sure you understand the basics first!

What Are Google Ad Grants?

The Google Ad Grants program provides free advertising credits to participating charitable organizations. Eligible nonprofits receive a monthly allocation of $10,000 to spend on promoting their most important web content through Google Ads. Participants conduct keyword research to determine what their prospects are searching online, craft ads that target these individuals, and use their ad credits to bid on those mission-critical search terms.

Through this program, Google’s goal is to empower nonprofits to supercharge their search engine marketing (SEM) efforts and deliver worthwhile public service messages to a global audience.

Here's an example of nonprofits boosting web content using the Google Ad Grant.

Use Cases For Google Ad Grants

One of the best parts about leveraging Google Ad Grants is that you can push your mission forward in several ways — all you have to do is think creatively! Some common goals nonprofits achieve through the program include:

  • Boost revenue by promoting donation forms, sponsorship pages, and other fundraising activities
  • Increase visibility for events by sharing event landing pages and registration forms
  • Strengthen volunteer recruitment by boosting volunteer information pages and registration forms
  • Inform people about your cause by promoting educational content and service pages
  • Promote advocacy activities like online petitions and advocacy events to create change in your community

Eligibility Requirements for Google Grants

To qualify for Google Ad Grants, your organization must meet the program’s eligibility criteria. Google doesn’t mean for these requirements to exclude anyone. Rather, they’re aiming to make sure any participants will actually benefit from the program.

Google’s eligibility rules state that applicants must:

  • Hold current and valid charity status within your country
  • Be registered with TechSoup and Google for Nonprofits
  • Have a functional, high-quality website with sufficient content
  • Not be a governmental entity, healthcare organization, or educational institution

You’ll never have to worry about the size or scope of your organization since applicants are never measured up against one another. As long as you meet these eligibility requirements, you can apply for the program without hesitation that you’ll be accepted!

How to Apply For The Google Ad Grant

After confirming your eligibility status, you can confidently move forward with applying for the program. Thankfully, the process is pretty straightforward. However, if at any point you’re unsure about your next steps, a Google Ad Grants agency can step in and help you complete the process.

Step 1) Register with TechSoup.

TechSoup partners with corporations like Google to provide free and discounted software, hardware, and services to nonprofits. Essentially, they confirm nonprofits’ legitimacy so that companies can trust that they’re providing resources to trustworthy organizations.

To register with TechSoup, you’ll need to visit the TechSoup registration page and provide some identifying information about your organization. If you’re approved, they’ll reach out with a validation token within 30 days that you’ll need to provide to Google.

Step 2) Create a Google for Nonprofits Account.

Once you’re verified by TechSoup, you’ll need to visit the Google for Nonprofits registration website, which will ultimately grant you access to the Google Grants application. To successfully apply for Google for Nonprofits, you’ll need to follow these steps:

  1. Agree to Google’s non-discrimination statements.
  2. Share the validation token from TechSoup.
  3. Fill out subsequent forms with contact and organization information.
  4. Submit your application and await your acceptance!

Beyond Ad Grants, Google for Nonprofits gives you access to a range of other tools, like Google WorkSpace and The YouTube Nonprofit Program. The approval process may take a few days, but you shouldn’t have any problems if you’re registered with TechSoup.

Step 3) Submit Your Google Ad Grants Application.

Once you receive an email that you’ve been approved for Google for Nonprofits, you can move forward with applying for Google Ad Grants! Here’s what you’ll need to do to access the application:

  1. Log into your Google for Nonprofits account. You can find this by clicking “Products” and then “Get Started” under Google Ad Grants.
  2. Click the eligibility form link. You’ll be prompted to fill out an assessment with basic information about your nonprofit, such as its official name, website URL, and goals with the program.
  3. Return to the Google for Nonprofits homepage. Click the checkbox to verify that you completed the form. Then, hit ‘Activate’ to submit your application for review.
  4. Accept the program invitation. Within a few business days, you should receive an email invitation from the Google Ad Grants team. Accept the invitation and the billing profile that’s sent in a separate email.

From here, you can create your first campaign and start using Google Ads to spread awareness for your mission!

The best part is you’ll never have to apply for the grant again. It’ll automatically renew each month. Once you’re accepted, just make sure you comply with the program’s ongoing regulations, and you shouldn’t have any problems.

How Are Google Ad Grant Accounts Structured?

After being accepted into the program, you’ll need to structure your account in a very specific way so that your ads can appear on Google Search.

Here’s how Getting Attention’s guide to optimizing a Google Grant account breaks down the required account structure:

  • Campaigns. These are your account’s largest building blocks. You’ll have a few campaigns that stick to broad themes related to your cause. For example, if you run an animal shelter, you might have separate campaigns for adoptions, volunteering, and donations.
  • Ad groups. Each campaign will contain ad groups, which you can think of as clusters of ads within your campaigns. You’ll assign keywords that people might search for related to your cause. Know that Google requires you to have at least two ad groups for every campaign.
  • Ads. This is the smallest element of your account. You’ll create ad copy, choose landing pages, and use ad extensions to create compelling ads that’ll appear on search results pages. Google requires you to have at least two ads per ad group, and the platform will automatically rotate between these ads. Then, you can analyze performance data to see which performs better, make inferences about why, and tweak underperforming ads.
This diagram illustrates the required Google Ad Grant account structure.

Not only does Google require you to follow this account structure, but doing so will also allow you to collect sufficient performance data and make sure your ads are set up to succeed!

Additional Resources

Nonprofit Catalog – Read up on more nonprofit essentials by exploring our Nonprofit Catalog.

How to Apply for Google Grants: 5 Easy Steps for Nonprofits – Ready to take the next step and get started with Google Ad Grants? Follow these easy steps to get up and running!

Picking A Google Grants Agency & Our 5 Recommendations – The Google Ad Grant can be a lot to manage, especially when you’re limited on time. Learn how an agency can step in and optimize your nonprofit’s account.