I’ve been around nonprofits a fair amount, and the one thing they all have in common is they LOVE free stuff. Free services, free gear, free anything really… and there is nothing wrong with it. So I am truly amazed that out of the 1.8 million registered 501 ( C ) (3’s) in the United States only 6-7 thousand that have a Google Grant.

There are millions of charities and nonprofit organizations seeking to help those who are in need and even more people who have the time and the desire to lend a hand in order to help out. Getting the word out so that those who wish to help can find a charity that suits them is the goal of the Google for Nonprofits program, which runs Google Grants. This program allows nonprofits to receive free advertising in Google’s Adwords network, those “sponsored links” you often see.

These ads will show up whenever an interested person search for information that is relevant to a charity. This, in turn, brings in more volunteers and donations to that charity. Being accepted is not simply a matter of being involved in promoting the social good. The program carries the specific goals and restrictions that are associated with Google’s company name. The organization that wishes to get accepted into the program needs to be one focused on one or more of a number of specific things like children’s issues, education, science and technology, health, the arts, and volunteer activities. In addition, the ads that are placed must be linked to a relevant website with no commercial interests in mind. The charity cannot use pay per click banners or other revenue-generating advertisements on their site. There is also a specific limit on how much you can bid for a keyword or phrase. And of course, the keywords that they use in conjunction with the advertising must be appropriate to the services they are providing.

An organization must maintain an active account. If their site or organization changes in any significant way that could affect their eligibility for the grant, they must notify Google immediately. Once the account is set up, it is the responsibility of the organization to maintain it, improve it, and monitor it. As long as the account stays active and operates according to the rules, the length of the grant is indefinite. Ultimately though it isn’t a difficult process to get approved, and usually takes 3-5 months. So you can stop wasting your time reading this and apply! Certain types of organizations may not participate in Google Grants.

Government organizations, those who are seeking to provide commercial goods or services, and those who operate on a membership basis for a select group of people are all ineligible. Google also prohibits those who would put religiously based restrictions on those whom they hire or those they allow to help and volunteer in their organization. Illegal activities or the promotion thereof are, of course, also prohibited. While Google Grants only operates in a certain number of countries so far, they are seeking to expand their program as wide and as fast as possible in order to reach all corners of the world. With more than 6000 organizations currently participating in Google Grants and a proven track record of increased activity and volunteering, this program is a putting the ideals of charities everywhere within easy reach.