If you were given $10k per month to help market your organization, how would you use it?
Well, here's the good news (and a twist). The Google Ad Grant, which is exclusive to nonprofits, does just that—but you have to use the up to $10k/month on Google's ad platform and there are a few other requirements.
But we will get into all those details below, right now let's just focus on the free (to you) ads cash, and where you should start!
The first step is to apply for and be accepted into the Google for Nonprofits program.
Once that's taken care of, your questions will probably start flooding in: where do I begin to promote our nonprofit's cause? How do I reach the right audiences? And how do I get the most out of the $10,000 per month?
These are all great questions, but let’s start with the most important one:
What is a Google Ad Grant?
Consider your Google Grant ad account as another marketing tool that helps your nonprofit get in front of the right audience at the right time. The Google Ad Grants program awards $10,000 to qualified non-profits to spend on paid search ads through Google.
Google Grant ads show your message to people who are searching for terms that relate to your organization. Your grant ads are served right alongside Google’s regular paid search ads. For example, when you search “patio furniture” you will receive links to purchase from home improvement stores and department stores. You were targeted because of the keywords you searched.
Search engine optimization (SEO) and your Google Grant account can work together to maximize your potential for increasing traffic to your website as well as generating leads and conversions.
Now that we know what it is, here are 5 tips to help your nonprofit get the most out of your Google Grant.
Tip 1: Create a paid keyword research report for your website that aligns with your SEO goals.
The Google Grant is a great tool to align with your SEO strategy by appearing at the top of search results for high-priority keywords. Conducting keyword research and creating a list of the keywords you want to target will help you align your paid ad strategy with your SEO goals.
For example, if you are an animal shelter, you might conduct keyword research around “animal shelter volunteering” or “donating to an animal shelter”. Both of these searches are keywords customers or clients that have an interest in your mission may use.
Or, maybe your nonprofit works to combat food insecurity. You may want to create ad campaigns around keywords like "food distribution near me" or "food pantries open today".
Whatever terms you choose, make sure that the keywords you select in the ad platform match the ad copy and are present in the copy on the webpage you are driving to.
Tip 2: Test to find your best-performing keywords.
Choosing the right keywords is key to maximizing performance for your Google Grant account. Just like SEO, you want to ensure you’re targeting keywords that have a large enough monthly search volume and also align with your nonprofit's content or programmatic offerings to get in front of the right audience.
Because the grant allows you to run these ads at no cost to your organization, you can target as many keywords as you want and learn what generates traffic to your website and drives conversions. Our best recommendation here? Test, report, repeat!
Not every ad campaign will be a winner—and that's ok. Keep testing and observing until you find your golden ad.
Tip 3: Make a list of your priority website pages.
Sorry to say it, but not every webpage is a great candidate to be promoted on the grant.
When selecting which website pages to create ad campaigns for, you'll want to start with your top 5-6 pages. These will be your landing pages for your search ads. In the beginning, focus on these top pages and test out a number of different keywords and copy pairings.
Consider pages that already have significant traffic like the home page, mission pages, any pages that already have significant traffic from SEO, key content or program pages, or pages where a supporter can request more information.
For many who click on these ads, these pages will be their first impression—so make sure it's your best foot forward and there is always some opportunity for easy conversion (ex - a form or newsletter subscription box).
Tip 4: Set up conversions within your Google Ad Grant account to monitor KPIs.
Best practice: only continue to run ad campaigns that perform for your organization.
This seems straightforward, but how do you track campaigns to ensure that they consistently convert?
The easiest way is to direct users to a separate "thank you page" after they fill out any type of form. For example, you have a grant ad campaign that sends people to a web page with a newsletter sign-up. After completing the form, subscribers are redirected to a new page that thanks them for signing up and gives them more content to explore.
By tracking the number of people who reach the specific thank you page, you'll be able to monitor conversions.
Tip 5: Once you launch your search ad campaigns, monitor Google Ads performance.
Did you know that the average nonprofit only manages to spend $300 per month of their Google Grant allowance? Yes...$300 out of $10,000.
It's harder than most nonprofits anticipate to spend even half the potential funds.
We recommend checking on your ad campaigns every couple of days for the first two weeks to ensure the ads are showing and spending. It will take some time for them to start to show (between 5 to 7 days) or sometimes longer depending on the keywords.
If the ads don’t start receiving impressions within the first two weeks, add more related keywords to the targeting list. Ensure that the ad quality score is marked as “Excellent” to maximize ad performance. Google will help guide you through this as you create your ad.
If your ad campaigns still aren’t spending the allotted $10,000 per month, or at least in the $2-4k range—send us an email with "SOS: Google Ad Grant" in the subject line and we can give you a few free pointers.
Get Going with your Google Ad Grant!
As your ad campaigns start to spend, it’s best to run a variety of campaigns throughout the year depending on what you want to promote. In order to maintain your Google Grant, your organization does need to report a 5% clickthrough rate.
However, if you keep these 5 tips in mind, you will set your Google Grant account up for success and generate a TON of free brand awareness for your nonprofit.
On average, Novus clients spend between $5-7k of their grant money per month. If you’re interested in learning more about the grant or need help managing yours, we'd love to talk. Click the button below to schedule a call with our team!