HomeResourcesChurches Using Google Adwords Ad Grant Subject To Religious Content Restrictions

Churches Using Google Adwords Ad Grant Subject To Religious Content Restrictions



Unleash the Power of A.I. for Ministry on 6.27.2023

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Churches need to understand Google Adwords' Religious Restrictions when seeking to benefit from Google's generous Ad Grant for Nonprofits program. In this article, we will delve into the details of the Google Ad Grant for Nonprofits, specifically discussing the restrictions that come with targeting religious audiences.

The increasingly restrictive options churches have for utilizing Google Ads as part of their outreach strategy can change how valuable you see it as a part of your online outreach toolset. By understanding these constraints, pastors and church leaders can make informed decisions on how best to leverage their ad space while maintaining ad relevancy and visibility online.

Stay tuned as we unravel the intricacies surrounding Google Adwords Ad Grant Religious Restrictions and provide valuable insights for effectively navigating this powerful digital marketing tool.

Table of Contents:


What is the Google Ad Grant for Nonprofits

The Google Ad Grant Program for Nonprofits is a program that provides eligible nonprofits with an in-kind donation of up to $10,000 per month in free Google Ads advertising budget so that you can put ads on Google search result pages. There are several qualification factors including that your church must be a formally IRS-recognized 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. 

Churches can leverage the Google Ad Grant Program to reach their intended audience and inform them of their programs, activities, and offerings. Churches can also use this grant to create ads that will appear on relevant searches and help them reach potential donors, volunteers, and even their own merch stores for items that support their mission.

Fundamentally, Google Ad Grants is used to increase website traffic. Churches can create ads that link directly to specific pages on their website so that people searching for information about the church are directed straight to the source. It's important to create campaigns that not just drive traffic, but also think through strategically how to turn those visitors into prospects for future nurturing and conversations.

  • Promote events: Use targeted ad campaigns for upcoming events such as fundraisers or community outreach programs.
  • Raise awareness: Create ads highlighting your church's unique offerings, like youth programs or volunteer opportunities.
  • Connect with members: Use Google Ad Grants to reach out to both current and potential church members. You can create campaigns tailored to each group, featuring content that resonates with their interests and needs.
  • Welcome visitors: When someone visits your website, make sure they have a positive experience by providing helpful information or resources. Use Google Ad Grants to drive more visitors to your site and then use remarketing campaigns.

The Google Ad Grant for Nonprofits is an amazing opportunity to increase the visibility of your organization and reach more people. However, it's important to understand that there are certain restrictions in place when targeting religious audiences with this program.

What Restrictions Do Google Adwords Have for Religious Targeting?

Google has restrictions on religious targeting that can affect how churches use the platform. Google Ads policies prohibit ads that contain religious content or promote religious beliefs. This includes any ad that implies knowledge of or uses data on sexual orientation, political affiliation, trade union membership, religion, or other sensitive personal information. This means that churches cannot target ads based on these criteria and must instead focus on more general topics such as common felt needs, community outreach events and issues, and charitable activities.

The restrictions also apply to any content related to religious services, such as sermons or worship music. Churches must be mindful of this when creating their ads and ensure they are not in violation of Google's policies.  

1683556293 Screenshot 2023 05 05 at 3.07.04 PM

  • Targeting Restrictions: Specifically, Google states in the Google Adwords policy that religious belief in personalized advertising and targeting of personal religious beliefs is not allowed.
  • Affected Content: Examples include places of worship, religious guidance, religious education or universities, and religious products.

To navigate these limitations effectively while still reaching their intended audience with engaging content about church events and programs without violating Google's guidelines will require creativity from church marketers using the platform. This is where Google Ad Grants can be helpful. Google Ad Grants is a program that provides eligible nonprofits with up to $10,000 per month in free ad space. Churches can use this grant to increase their visibility online and promote their events and programs.

When using Google Ad Grants, churches must follow certain guidelines to maintain their eligibility. For example, they must have an active AdWords account with active ad groups and ad copy that is relevant to their mission and tax-exempt purposes. They must also use branded keywords and sitelink extensions to increase ad relevancy and improve click-through rates.

While there are restrictions on religious targeting in Google Adwords, churches can still use the platform effectively to promote their events and programs. By following Google's suggestions and using Google Ad Grants, churches can increase their visibility online and reach a wider audience.

Google Adwords has strict restrictions on religious targeting, and churches must take these into consideration when using the Google Adwords Ad Grants for Nonprofits. Understanding how to properly use this grant program is essential in order to maximize its potential benefits.

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What does this mean for churches using Google Adwords Ad Grants for Nonprofits?

Because Google​​ Adwords continues to impose a number of restrictions on religious organizations, the practicality of using the Ad Grant for church marketing is becoming much harder. For example, while it is probably understandable that ads cannot include terms such as “convert”, “save souls”, nor feature religious imagery of any kind, church leaders will find that much tamer content will be flagged and restricted. Even the mention of church or faith usually gets an ad disabled.

And what's more, if an advertiser continues to violate Google’s religious policy, they won’t be able to target any non-Google audiences. This includes First Party, Third Party, Similar Audiences, and Customer Match. They will be limited to Google-based audiences, such as In-Market and Affinity audiences. This limitation will reduce the audience size for Display and Video outreach campaigns and make digital marketing options limited. This policy particularly affects all religious institutions, including churches.

This effectively means that churches' ability to use the Ad Grant is coming to an end.

As the restrictions on religious targeting in Google Ads become more stringent, churches must adapt their marketing strategies to continue reaching their target audiences effectively. This means finding alternative methods of promotion that do not rely solely on the Google Ad Grant program.

  • Social media campaigns: Churches can leverage platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok, and Twitter to engage with their communities and share updates about events or services.
  • Email marketing: Building a strong email list allows churches to communicate directly with members and visitors alike. ActiveCampaign, Keap, and other email platforms provide efficient methods to manage email campaigns.
  • Content marketing: Creating engaging blog posts, videos, podcasts, or other forms of content can help attract new visitors to a church's website while providing valuable information and resources.
  • Paid advertising: Although losing access to free ad grants is disappointing, investing in paid ads through platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Spotify, Pinterest, etc. Advertising may still be an effective way for churches to reach potential donors and attendees.

But while exploring these alternatives, it's crucial that churches remain vigilant about adhering to any existing policies related to religious content in advertising. By staying informed about changes within the digital marketing landscape and adapting accordingly, ChurchTechToday‘s community of pastors will be better equipped than ever before when navigating the challenges presented by shifting online regulations.

FAQs in Relation to Google Adwords Ad Grant Religious Restrictions

Can Churches Use Google Ad Grants?

Yes, churches can use Google Ad Grants as long as they meet the eligibility criteria set by Google for nonprofits. Churches must be registered and recognized nonprofit organizations in their respective countries to qualify for this program. Learn more about Google Ad Grant eligibility.

What Are the Limitations for Google Grants for Nonprofits?

Google Grants have several limitations, including a maximum cost-per-click (CPC) of $2, daily budget capped at $329, text-only ads on Search Network only, and specific keyword targeting rules. Additionally, religious content cannot be used to target individuals based on religion or exploit sensitive issues. Read Google's guidelines for more information.

Grantees must also maintain an account with good standing by following all required policies, such as having at least two active ad groups per campaign and maintaining a 5% click-through rate (CTR). Failure to comply may result in suspension or termination of grant benefits. Check out performance requirements.

What Is the Difference Between Google Ads and Google Ad Grants?

The main difference is that while both platforms allow advertisers to create online campaigns using keywords targeting users searching on google.com, Google Ad Grants is a program specifically designed for nonprofits, providing up to $10,000 per month in free advertising credits. Unlike regular Google Ads accounts, grant recipients must adhere to specific guidelines and limitations.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, the Google Ad Grant for Nonprofits has been a great opportunity for churches to increase their visibility online. But because of the increasingly strict need for adhering to specific religious targeting regulations as mandated by Google, it will force churches to think creatively about how to publish non-traditional content that will interest people in your community, one or two steps more removed from a direct explicit introduction to your church. With the current direction, there is a distinct possibility that the Ad Grant will not be a viable option for churches to use it in the not-to-distant future. 

If you're interested in learning more about how to maximize the Google Ad Grant for your church under this new restrictive environment, let us know in the comments, and if we get enough questions and interest, we'll explore more topics about how to use Google Ad Grants for Churches today.

CTT Staff
CTT Staffhttps://churchtechtoday.com
ChurchTechToday is the #1 church technology website for pastors, communicators, and leaders. With the goal to provide insight into a variety of topics including social media, websites, worship, media, mobile, and software, ChurchTechToday aims to shed light on how church technology can empower and position churches for impact and growth.


  1. Thanks for publishing this article. I have some follow-up questions…

    1) You mentioned “increasingly restrictive options.” Do you mean that Google recently changed the rules to make them “increasingly restrictive” (if so when)? Are they increasing their enforcing of old restrictions? Or have they been “increasingly restrictive” for years?

    2) Are you saying churches cannot run ads promoting church services?

    3) Are you saying churches cannot target their ads to “church” keywords?

    4) Are you saying churches cannot run ads promoting sermons?

    5) Can you provide examples of ads that violate Google’s guidelines and alternative ads that would not violate Google’s guidelines?

    • Google’s “enforcement” has been anecdotally increasing regarding disapproval of ads that have been running for awhile. We know of multiple accounts where ads have been disabled / disapproved because of the religious content issue in the last couple of months.

      As of now, it seems that the terms technically does not allow advertising of church services and sermons through AdWords Ad Grants.

      Much like how Facebook has removed targeting based on religious behavior / followers of religious leaders and organizations, Google seems to be restricting the ability to use explicit church-related keywords.

      Are you seeing something different?


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