Google Grants – $10,000 of Advertising Per Month For Non-Profits
The Google Grants program is one of the biggest missed opportunities in the non-profit sector. As a pay per click marketer, Google Grants accounts are also some of my favourites to manage as they’re challenging but incredibly rewarding. Whenever I speak to a non-profit organisation, I find it amazing that they’re totally unaware of the opportunity. Some non-profits I speak to know about the program, but found the application process way too hard or time-consuming to go through with it.
I’m here to tell you that if you’re a non-profit, then you’d be crazy not to take advantage of it! So, I’m going to address some of the most common questions and concerns I receive from non-profits about the Google Ad Grants program.
“What is Google Ad Grants?”
Google Grants gives $10,000 USD of ad spend to non-profits to promote their cause via the Google search engine. It utilises Google Ads, a pay-per-click ad system that allows advertisers to place their ads at the top of Google search results.
While normal advertisers pay for their clicks out of their own pocket, Google gives you $10,000 to spend instead. This is the kind of budget that businesses in the private sector would envy!
If you want to understand more about Google Ads, check out this post.
“Google Grants seems amazing, but I don’t think we’re eligible.”
You’d be surprised at how simple the requirements are for actually getting the grant. Many people think that you have to be a large charity with the most comprehensive charity and tax structure, but it’s simply not true. In many countries, you merely have to be exempt from income tax. You can find out the specific requirements in your country here.
“The application process is confusing. I’m worried I won’t do it correctly.”
Unfortunately, Google doesn’t make the application steps very clear, but in saying that, you shouldn’t worry. In most situations, it involves verifying your charity with TechSoup (or their partner in your country), answering some questions about your non-profit, and agreeing that you’ll use the grant properly. This might seem intimidating and I’ll admit that the first one I did took me longer than it does now, but you’ll make it. Trust me, the effort is worth it! I do know that it’s time-consuming for already time-poor non-profits, though – which is why I offer this service for free, just get in contact if you’d like help.
“What are the restrictions on Google Grants ads?”
Google is giving you $10,000 USD per month of free advertising spend, so it makes sense that they’d want you to use it honourably and effectively. This means that they have a few rules about what you can and can’t do. Here are the main ones;
- Only run keyword-targeting campaigns
- Run ads that promote your cause and boost your non-profit organisation (no commercial ads)
- Have a daily budget of $329 per day (this averages out to $10,000 per month)
- Only run text ads on the search results page (no video or display advertising)
- Don’t bid on keywords you don’t own (e.g. competitor names)
These restrictions do make it challenging to run effective campaigns, but not impossible! There’s lots of traffic available out there within those restrictions that could benefit your non-profit.
“We’ve got the Grant and we’ve set up our Ads account, but we’re not spending it.”
This is a really common problem for Google Grants recipients. The biggest reason was mostly due to the maximum $2 bid limit that Google Ads had placed on Grant accounts. A policy change on 1 January 2018 means that you can now bid higher than $2 CPC as long as campaigns are on an individual budget and use the “maximise conversions” automated bidding strategy.
Ads will rank your ad based on two things: how relevant it thinks it is, and how high you bid. For Google Ad Grant recipients, the maximum bid used to really restrict your rankings. Lower rankings often mean a lower click-through-rate. A lower click-through-rate means you won’t be spending as much of your awesome budget. Now, without the $2 limit, there is room to bid higher. However, you still need to keep the rankings in mind.
The best tip I can give you is to make sure you’re relevant. Google wants to show the most useful and relevant ads! Pair your ads as specifically as you can with your keywords. This also means using keywords that are well structured. Many Ad Grants recipients use completely broad keywords – instead, try using modified broad match, phrase, or exact keywords to help with your relevancy.
Another common reason is that non-profits underestimate just how many keywords are required to reach their budget. You might think you’ve exhausted all your possible keywords, but try to get creative. For example, during the Christmas period, I ran some campaigns that targeted keywords like “secret santa” and made the ad copy say “give a donation as a secret santa present”. This helped to boost visibility, increase donations and helped the Grants recipient reach their budget during the season. The Grants accounts I manage at the moment have thousands of keywords with hundreds of campaigns – trust me, there are always new opportunities!
“I’m a Google Ads rookie, I don’t have the time to manage it, and frankly, it all seems too hard.”
I hear you! I used to work for a non-profit and I know just how time-poor you can be. The best thing that you can do is to assign someone purely to manage your Google Ad Grants – preferably someone who knows what they’re doing and has experience. You don’t want to receive $10,000 of free ad spend and not use it properly. There are lots of Ads courses you can put people through. I would strongly suggest that if you do put someone on, that it’s their only job! Don’t just hand it off to your webmaster, they won’t have time.
Your other option is to outsource the management of your Google Grant. This is probably one of the better options as you can trust it to a professional and you can rest assured knowing that you’re getting results from your campaigns. It can be expensive to outsource, but it’s definitely worth it for the results you’d see out of it.
Again, I’m always happy to audit a Google Grants account and give you advice for free. For those of you who are considering outsourcing it long term, I heavily discount my rates for Google Grants accounts and I even take on one pro bono account per year. Feel free to get in touch if you’re interested!
If you’re a non-profit, you’d be crazy to not investigate Google Grants. It’s an incredible opportunity to reach thousands and thousands of people with your message. I’ve seen it increase volunteers, donations, contacts and help connect services with the people who need them.
Definitely give it a go!
Written by Gemma Renton