Big Changes for Google Grant Program

Google recently announced major changes to their popular Google Grants for Nonprofits program, effective Monday, January 28th. The two major points are:

  1.   The bid cap is raised from $1 to $2
  2.   If a paid ad and a Google Grant ad bid on the same keyword, the paid ad will appear above any Google Grant ad, regardless of bid amount.

The position of a text ad on Google is a key factor in how many clicks, and therefore conversions, it receives. The bid cap of $1 often kept Google Grant ads lower than paid competitions, but for specific, targeted keywords, we at SankyNet have been able to secure high placement – and donation income. This strategy of finding specific keywords to out-bid the competition will now need to change.

The fact that any paid competitor can display above a targeted nonprofit ad is a strategic challenge. Companies like and Amazon bid on nearly every combination of nouns and verbs. For nonprofits that need to be in the top ad position for important keywords, such as their organization name, Google Grant is now much less viable.

While the raise in bid cap to $2 might sound promising, we expect this was simply to soften Google’s news. In reality, the new $2 bid cap will only help with placement compared to other Google Grant competition – which will now have the same $2 bid… and all of those ads will appear below paid ads.

It is still early to tell the full ramifications of these changes, but we are upping all of our Google Grant bids and carefully watching our average positions. If you want to know our guess: this change will necessitate more ads to move from Google Grant to paid advertising to stay effective, and it will make Google’s Quality Score even more important.

Stay tuned to our blog for more Search Engine Marketing updates!