Searching Silver Linings

photo of Google Ads logo

A Helpful Google Ad Credit Resource for Small and Not-for-Profit Businesses

“We are highlighting small- and medium-sized businesses because when COVID hit, those people were disproportionately affected all around the world, but also in the U.S.”

Jerry Dischler, head of ad products at Google (via Ad Age)

By Brianna Perkins Manager, Media Account

The once firm economic and societal structures that provided means for prosperity in business have since been lifted from beneath our feet. The current state of the world – from a global pandemic to protests in the streets – appears to offer seemingly futile grounds for small businesses and non-for-profit organizations.

It is in times of uncertainty that we as a community must lean into one another as a source for security and refuge. As eloquently mentioned by the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, “Only when it is dark enough, can you see the stars.” Within deep tragedy lies an opportunity to see more clearly the light of our true purpose, mission and values as individuals, organizations and businesses small and large. For those businesses still standing, we believe it is our duty to provide a resource to our community and allow for aid in the growth of their economic state.

As a community, we can surface resources for refuge to seek the silver lining in unprecedented times. One such refuge for small businesses comes from none other than technology giant, Google.

Google search bar with the ask, "How can we help you?" above it
Giving Good Causes a Marketing Budget

Google has expanded the Google Ad Grant program, typically reserved for non-profits, to SMBs affected by COVID-19. The new COVID-19 Google ad credit offering equips organizations with tools to increase web traffic, drive sales and increase lead conversions. Google is allotting qualified organizations $10K in ad spend per month for paid search campaigns designed to build brand relevance and grow businesses.

As an integrated marketing agency focused on building people-first cultures and communities, JUST has shared our Google Ad Grants expertise as a pro-bono service for various non-profits throughout the years through our JUST Cares program. We now aim to share the best digital marketing strategies within this program to help small and mid-sized businesses flourish.

Relevance, Control and Results

Google Ads are known to be built around three principles: relevance, control and results.

Google Ad’s can be utilized to expand your business through driving online, in-app and over the phone sales as well as increase leads by boosting conversions while encouraging people to take actions, increase website visits and influence consideration through distinct messaging and targeting in your paid search advertisements.


There are a few things to keep top of mind for optimal utilization. One being that when using a Google grant for paid search efforts, you will be granted a bid of no greater than $2.00 CPC. Another being that a CTR of 5% or higher must be in place should the Google Ad Grant account remain active. A lower CTR would cause for deactivation of the Google Ad Grant account. With correct strategy and alignment one can use the tools available to increase their relevance and drive success in the digital landscape.

One such company that has successfully generated positive outcomes with the use of the Google Ad Grant paired with JUST’s strategic approach is the American Brain Foundation. The American Brain Foundation is a non-for-profit organization allowing access to the best and brightest minds to source the most high-risk and high-reward research cutting across various diseases of the brain. The American Brain Foundation focuses primarily on fundraising and providing educational services to the greater community.

Upon review, it was shown that the American Brain Foundation was spending less than $200 / month and achieved a CTR of 2.53% account-wide, which put ABF in jeopardy of losing the Google Grant.

mobile phone displaying a companys google ad reporting dashboard
Relevant Keywords and Ad Copy

After onboarding with JUST, the team moved quickly to reconstruct the American Brain Foundation campaigns for optimal use by providing additional keywords and creating new, relevant ad copy. Additionally, the JUST team launched a DSA campaign to focus on targeting web pages instead of keywords to drive additional traffic. The team also focused on increased campaign spend by 8x with room to continue to grow and most importantly, achieved its primary purpose of saving the account from deactivation and increasing the overall CTR to 5.56%.

image of google dashboard to select branded keywords

Similarly, another JUST pro-bono account,, received a dramatic expansion in reach and clientele by optimizing their Google Ad Grant to serve their business. BRIDGEGOOD is a 501©(3) nonprofit organization (also supported by that holds the goal of revolutionizing design and advancing technology by preparing the next generation of students for these fields.

The mission of BRIDGEGOOD is to provide diverse, emerging designers with the professional resources to discover and secure meaningful creative careers. Through, businesses and nonprofits receive essential design services helping students thrive while improving diverse local economies.

Know Your Audience

Before JUST, BRIDGEGOOD struggled with getting their paid search ads to attract traffic to their site. With review and consideration, JUST analyzed the current strategy and expanded on audiences resulting in a significantly broadened scope while attracting the valuable users to their website. JUST was able to successfully identify areas of improvement for the keyword targeting as well as ad copy for the new goals outlined. The JUST team further developed these goals through guiding BRIDGEGOOD on website recommendations from a conversion perspective as well as speaker planning for their ongoing virtual events.

photo of phone with non profit search results

The JUST team then collaborated with BRIDGEGOOD to accurately identify the value associated with their conversions. Upon review it was shown that the conversion goal focused on directing users to access the free online portfolio through the BRIDGEGOOD website to help bolster young professional’s design careers. To hone in on that learning, the JUST team pivoted away from a broader audience targeting and focused on bringing quality users to the BRIDGEGOOD site through updated ad copy that reflected key features including the online portfolio. JUST also focused on using the most relevant and top converting keywords to develop a brand campaign, ensuring BRIDGEGOOD would appear at the top of searches, even when users were searching for BRIDGEGOOD’S previous company name, Oakland Digital.

Stay on Top of Trending Searches

After updating the campaigns to better reflect the most recent changes within BRIDGEGOOD, the JUST team then looked at the ad copy and keywords to ensure they stay up-to-date with current events. During COVID-19 and the 2020 Diversity and Inclusion conversations, the JUST team included additional keywords and ad copy in the search campaigns to capture people who fall in this category and are looking for new opportunities during this time.


It is in times like these that the humanity present within business endeavors must be keenly recalled and placed into action. No longer can we afford to see ourselves as individual entities, we must bring forth solution and solidarity for each other as we walk through each day in this new way of living.

You can learn more about SMB’s qualifications for Google ad credits in the San Francisco Chronicle or by visiting Google’s Ad Grants page, COVID-19 Ad Grant Resources and additional Support Links for more helpful tips.

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