What’s the most effective and efficient way to get people to discover your church or nonprofit? Word of mouth only goes so far, and widespread media exposure is not always possible, especially for a start-up campus or company.

Advertising can be expensive, but this is where churches and nonprofits have a potential advantage.

Google has a program called Google Ad Grants, which provides up to $10,000/month indefinitely in Google Ad credit to qualifying non-profit organizations. Potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in free advertising! Through Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords), you can create text-based advertisements and promotions that appear on Google search results pages so people can find your organization by searching keywords directly related to your company, ministry, or mission.

What’s the benefit?

Google is the world’s largest search engine with over 4.4 billion searches each day, meaning it is the place most people go to find what they’re looking for online. With Google ads, you will be able to dramatically increase your organization’s visibility when people search for general terms that align with your products, services, or mission. Google also allows you to geographically target your ads, meaning your promotions will be optimized to only show up for people in the locations you choose.

For example, if someone searches Google for “church with child care” and your Google Ads account has those key words flagged; your church’s ad will appear at the top of the page (although they will be below the ads of paying advertisers if there are any).

Here is an example of what your ad could look like:


  • The organization must be recognized by the IRS as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization formed for charitable, educational, religious, literary, scientific, or other tax-exempt purposes. (This program is not available for governmental entities, healthcare organizations, or academic institutions.)
  • Organizations such as churches that are automatically tax-exempt must still obtain an IRS recognition letter of their 501(c)(3) tax exemption to qualify. Those under an “umbrella” exemption from a national group may request this letter from their overarching association.
  • Obtaining this status involves filing legal documents, so we recommend hiring a lawyer for the process. *The attorneys at Mauck & Baker can certainly help if your organization is currently unrecognized by the IRS.

We Can Help!

Contact Mauck & Baker if you are interested in setting up your nonprofit. Call 312-726-1243 or send an email to info@mauckbaker.com.

*Our cost for officially registering your church as a nonprofit is $4,500 including the application fee.

How to Apply to Google:

If your organization meets the above criteria you may sign up for Google Nonprofits (www.google.com/nonprofits). Make sure you have these things on hand before you start:

  • Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. Format looks like this: XX-XXXXXXX
  • Active high-quality website with substantial content for your church or non-profit
  • Specific email for your non-profit organization
  • Gmail account

To officially submit the application, your organization will have to agree to a nondiscrimination clause that says you agree “to not discriminate on any unlawful basis in hiring or employment practices or in the administration of programs and services, including on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.” This has worried some organizations that maintain the Biblical stance that homosexual lifestyles are wrong, but we believe that checking this box would not conflict with that belief and is acceptable for evangelical ministries and churches because it does not prohibit from expressing a certain opinion on sexual behavior.

This confirmation process will take 2-14 business days. After your organization has been validated on Google Nonprofits, you can enroll in Ad Grants!

Getting Started:

To make sure this would be an effective program for our clients we consulted the leaders of two organizations that are currently helping nonprofits navigate Google ads:

Chris Lesner is the founder and CEO of Project World Impact, an online platform that helps nonprofits get found and funded. PWI was one of the first 12 organizations globally that Google outwardly promoted to help nonprofits with their Google Ad Grant.

“Google Ad Grants have been unbelievably helpful,” Lesner said. “We’ve seen many nonprofits be able to direct 1,000 new people a month to their website.”

PWI has experience working with churches such as Willow Creek and Wheaton and can also help your church or nonprofit apply for and manage a Google Ad Grant for as low as $1 the first year.

See PWI member benefits here: https://projectworldimpact.com/org/register/paywhatyouwant

Have PWI submit your Google Grant application here: https://products.projectworldimpact.com/grants/

Kurt Jaros is the Executive Director of Defenders Media, a company that provides media solutions to evangelistic ministries that defend the Christian worldview. If you’re struggling to reach new people with your message, they can help.

Defenders Media has arranged a flat-rate cost of $600 to get your church or ministry approved and running with Google Ads. This includes the prior research it takes to get to know your organization personally and tailor ads to your specific needs.

More info here: https://www.defendersmedia.com/google-ads/

If you are new to Google Ads but wanting to manage it yourself, we still recommend contacting a Google support representative to help set up your first advertising campaign. There are many factors that go into optimizing your results, and to stay eligible for the grant you must maintain a 5% CTR (click-through rate) or else your account may be suspended for not reaching these goals.

Specific requirements here: https://support.google.com/grants/answer/117827?hl=en

Tips to stay eligible: https://www.communityboost.org/blog-keep-ad-grant-active-five-percent/

Each of the organization leaders we spoke to assured us that these requirements are very possible to achieve as long as you choose effective keywords. Churches with more ministries, community outreach, special events, and activities to advertise tend to be more successful at using more of the grant money.


Has your church or nonprofit enrolled in the Google Ad Grant? Let us know what you think!

 Contact us at info@mauckbaker.com 

Posted on Tue, January 15, 2019 by Mauck Baker