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Google’s pay-per-click (PPC) advertising platform, AdWords, has been a key source of traffic and revenue for thousands of nonprofits. It allows them to create custom ads on Google Search and third-party websites, connecting with prospective donors while conveying their mission statement to a larger audience in the process. Furthermore, nonprofits could take advantage of the Google Ad Grants program, which provides eligible nonprofits with $1,000 in free advertising credits each month.

In 2017, however, Google announced plans to cut off the free advertising credits to many nonprofits. As revealed on its program policies page, Google made several revisions to the Ad Grants program, the most significant of which is a 5 percent minimum click-through rate (CTR). This means nonprofits that fail to achieve a 5 percent or higher CTR over a two-month period may have their account suspended, thus forfeiting the free $1000 monthly credits.

Previously, most nonprofits weren’t required to meet a minimum CTR when participating in the Ad Grants program. The only exception was nonprofits with a Granspro account, which Google required to maintain a 1 percent or higher CTR. This new change requires all nonprofits using AdWords to maintain a 5 percent or higher CTR. Otherwise, they’ll be kicked out of the program.

So, what prompted Google to implement the new 5 percent minimum CTR for nonprofits? When speaking about the change, Google explained that the average CTR for nonprofits advertising on AdWords was around 6 percent. However, some nonprofits have ineffective ads that yield low CTRs of just 2 percent to 4 percent. Google says the new policy encourages nonprofits to optimize their ads, which will help them attract more leads and increased awareness of their mission.

In addition to the new 5 percent threshold, Google is also lifting the $2 maximum cost-per-click (CPC) bid for nonprofits that use the platform’s Maximize Conversions bidding feature. Other new requirements for the Ad Grants program include a minimum keyword Quality Score of 3, a minimum of two ad groups per campaign, a minimum of two active sitelink extensions per account and geotargeting.

While these changes will undoubtedly draw criticism by nonprofits participating in the Ad Grants program, Google has good intentions. Implementing a 5 percent minimum CTR encourages nonprofits to create high-quality, targeted ads that resonate more strongly with their respective audience.