Nonprofits and Google Grants | Speak Creative Digital Marketing

How To Expand Your Nonprofit's Marketing Budget with Free Advertising From Google

If you’re a member of a nonprofit, there’s one statement that is true: Budgets are limited.

No matter your industry, we understand that nonprofits regularly track every expense, and squeezing marketing dollars out of your total revenue can seem almost impossible. However, we also know that digital marketing is the biggest way to measure your ROI. Luckily, we have a tool in our arsenal that not many nonprofits are aware of that can stretch your marketing dollars further than you ever thought possible. We’re talking Google Grants.

Google Grants allows nonprofit organizations (organizations that are registered as 501(c)(3)) to qualify for up to $10,000 per month in ad spend.

No, that’s not a typo. Yes, $10,000 per month! Google’s grant program allows organizations to target their audiences and spread awareness of their mission through custom search ads. Could you use up to an extra $120,000 per year in your marketing budget? If so, you’re not alone, so keep reading!

So, what’s the caveat?

While we don’t view these items as ‘bad news’ persee, it’s important to know a few things before starting. These tips eliminate a lot of confusion later.

Before diving in, it’s important to note that $10,000 per month is a hefty spend - while it’s available, it’s not guaranteed that you will reach that each month. There are organizations that have been in the Google Grants program for years and regularly do not meet the $10,000 limit. While the budget is there, targeting the right keywords with the right mix of traffic while staying under the CPC (cost-per-click) cap can be a challenge, and what works in one part of the year might not work in another. There are many variants that can affect your ad spend, and doing it on your own can be costly.

The good news is that with plenty of experience with nonprofit organizations and the Google Grants program, we have a few tips up our sleeve that can help maximize reach and spend in a given month. As a Google Partner, we’ve also got a direct line to Google’s Account Strategists who can help us with keyword suggestions and find opportunities to help us maximize our exposure.

Another condition to keep in mind is that your organization must qualify for the Nonprofit Program. For many organizations, this is easy, and approval typically takes less than 24 hours. To get started, you must fill out the application (or have an agency representative do it on your behalf). This requires you to have a TechSoup validation token. TechSoup is a resource that helps validate non-governmental organizations (NGOs for short) and is used by Google to confirm nonprofit status.

Most organizations likely have a login already for TechSoup, but if not, it’s easy to sign up. It’s also easy to search for your organization and find out who on your team might have already enrolled your organization. Once we’ve gotten the proper access key, we’re on our way.

Additionally, a nonprofit must meet eligibility requirements for the program. These eligibility requirements are standards that Google has set in place that are in line with it’s global mission. To view the most up to date eligibility requirements, click here. 

Take me to the Google Nonprofit Application

Once the application is approved, it’s not just Google Grants that you’re eligible for. Free G Suite, Map validations, YouTube programs and more are all available to nonprofits who are approved.

How to Get Started with Google Grants

Once you have an approved nonprofit status, now’s the time to get strategic! Building out your account, doing keyword research and thinking about how you’d like to bring people into your site are all vital next steps.

To fill out your Google Adwords account, you’ll want to set it up carefully, as failure to do so can create a paid AdWords account that will not be accepted into the grant program. You’ll want to create at least one campaign, with one ad and your selected keywords, and set your budget. For more information on creating campaigns, see below.

Tip: Make sure you select “Search Network Only” – Display network ads or search partner ads are not eligible for the program.

Finally, do not enter billing information. If you enter a credit card, the account will be denied through the grant program. If for some reason you would like to do additional paid campaigns, you will need to set up a second AdWords account, and put payment information there.

Creating Ads That Convert

While you’re given a large budget to spend each month, Google does place restrictions on how you can use that budget. Throughout the program there is a $2 max cost per click. That means if you are a nonprofit such as a museum in a large metro area, it’s likely you won’t be very competitive bidding on terms like “Nashville things to do”, where CPC can go above $10 per click. You may fare better in more targeted terms, such as “Nashville museums” or “guitar museum nashville”. This is where your ads must be carefully crafted, so you can find the keywords that are both searched and that will bring in real traffic to your organization.

Once you’ve found the right keywords to go after, crafting your ads are important so that they stand out. Like with any AdWords or PPC campaign, you’ll want to create ads that will target users in their specific searches, and aim to be the solution to their problem. Making good use of ad extensions that allow a person to call you in one click or click into a specific page are a great tool, and creating copy that uses keywords in your headlines will help you to stand out.

Another thing to think about is your domain. If you have special subdomains for events or programs, they are not eligible for the grant program, only pages on your primary domain. This is important to keep in mind, because putting time and effort into your ads could lead to a big disappointment if your URL isn’t approved.

Google search - ads for your nonprofit business

Managing Your Account

As with any AdWords account, it’s important to monitor your ads performance over time; even though the ad spend isn’t coming directly out of your pocket, poor performing ads could be wasting precious grant money that could be leading to more donations, more volunteers and more activism for your campaigns.

In fact, to maintain your grant status, Google requires frequent logins (once a month) as well as changes each quarter. Often times, you will want to change more than that as you understand what is working and implement seasonal changes to your campaigns. It’s also important that you’re monitoring how users react to your pages once they’ve clicked on your ads, so setting up custom landing pages and monitoring user metrics on your site will help you understand customer behavior, and how it might be different than organic site users.

Management of your account requires time, strategic thinking and in-depth knowledge to ensure you’re getting the most out of the Google Grant as possible. Partnering with a digital marketing agency who has experience in strategizing and the technical know-how to make your marketing dollar go further will boost your marketing, and make the most out of your limited budget.

Are you a nonprofit, and want to learn more about how to get started with Google’s nonprofit program and Google Grants? We can help! Drop us a line in the chat box in the lower right corner, or fill out our form to get in touch with a Google AdWords specialist.

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Posted by Kindra Svendsen at 8:32 AM
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