One out of four nonprofit organizations has never heard of Google For Nonprofits and that’s a terrible shame. This free program for organizations that qualify, gives away premium services such as a $10,000 a month of in-kind Google ad credits. That $120,000 in ad spend can be the difference between success and failure for a fledgling organization. There are other resources at your organization’s disposal as well including:

  • G Suite For Non-Profits with shared drives and unlimited users
  • Google Earth and Maps apps which allow you to create donor maps and data visualizations to track and share your organization’s impact. It also gives you the ability to help people locate your organization’s programs and resources closest to them
  • YouTube for Nonprofits (U.S. only) which include videos with “giving features”
  • Google ads live chat

Though the biggest advantage is the Google grant, it does come with some caveats. In order to meet eligibility requirements your organization needs to be a registered non-profit.  Furthermore you will need to maintain specific performance metrics and meet certain criteria:

  • Your ads need to be entirely text-based search ads
  • No single-word keywords are permitted with the exception of your brand name as well as certain “approved” keywords (i.e. medical conditions)
  • No overly generic keywords can be used including terms like “ebook” or “free video”
  • Keywords with a quality score of 1 or 2 are not permitted
  • Must maintain a 5% click-through rate (CTR) each month
  • You will need to log into your Google Grant account at least once every two weeks to keep it active (but you should be doing so anyways!)
  • Google grant ads will appear below paying advertisers on search results pages

Tips to Optimize Your Ad Grant Campaign

Any successful campaign requires planning and strategy, and this is even more true for Google Grants as you want to keep donor funded marketing spend to a minimum. Here are some tips to help you optimize your google ad grant:

Strategic Keyword Research:

The right keywords can get you in front of the right donors or volunteers. They can also let people in need know about important programs and services. Use Google’s free Keyword Planner tool to research high volume search topics that will inspire users to your website and landing pages based on your organization’s value proposition, sets of services, and mandate.

Drive Users to the Right Types of Pages:

Let’s assume that your nonprofit supports families in financial distress. Your services may include a food bank, school book program and a children’s clothing fund. After doing your keyword research you craft ads driving users to your NGOs homepage with the hope of generating donations, but you may be sorely disappointed at the conversion rates. Driving potential donors to a one size fits all home page will not give them a clear path to donate to the program they are most interested in nor will it have the turnaround time you might expect. You are forcing them to “click around” without clear direction. On the other hand your conversion rates will be much higher if a user who clicked on the keyword “food bank donation” is driven directly to a landing page that provides the necessary information to help users learn about your unique food bank project. Key elements include a program description, videos, testimonials, non profit organization seals (like GuideStar and Charity Navigator), and an easy donate form that accepts all major credit cards. Also include site security seals to ensure donors that their credit card information is secure.

Capture email addresses for remarketing:

  • Ensure an enticing sign up form on your site in exchange for a white paper, research findings or your annual report.
  • Use a mobile friendly pop up and a/b test different call to actions and assets
  • Offer gated video or audio content like a podcast or vlog (preferably from an influencer in your space) on a related subject.
  • Run digital lead generation ads in Facebook where you collect email addresses from a targeted audience in exchange for gated content.

Message Match:

A simple but effective conversion rate optimization tactic called “message match” can help to increase donations dramatically. Message match refers to the practice of fine-tuning the landing page experience according to the context of the ad. The better the congruence between the ad and landing page (and search term, when relevant), the higher the likelihood of success.

For example, an NPO that provides support for those with cancer has chosen to run a hair donation campaign with the following ad and landing page. Message match refers to the practice of fine-tuning the landing page experience according to the context of the ad. The better the congruence between the ad and landing page (and search term, when relevant), the higher the likelihood of success.

There are a ton of free resources out there to help you get started and one excellent  source is Techsoup.  A nonprofit themselves, An international network of non-governmental organizations that provides technical support and technological tools to other nonprofits, their resources are high quality and very easy to use and they offer “great discounts on the tools” non-profits use most.

Google Grant Resources:

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