Google Grants: A Small Nonprofit’s Ultimate Marketing Weapon

Google Grants: A Small Nonprofit’s Ultimate Marketing Weapon

Julia Claire Campbell Marketing, Nonprofits, Online Advertising

Guest post by Jessica King at Getting Attention

Powering a small nonprofit requires you to make the most of every marketing opportunity, big or small. You want to promote your cause every chance you get, and Google Ads can be a great way to accomplish that.

Think about it: people search for anything and everything they can think of on Google. They use the search engine to answer their burning questions, find nearby businesses, and learn about causes they’re passionate about.

That makes the Google Ad Grants program a big opportunity for nonprofits — even more so for small nonprofits that need all the marketing power they can get! Perfect for organizations operating on limited budgets, the program provides free credits to spend on promoting digital content within Google search results.

While incredibly helpful, the program can initially seem intimidating, especially if you’re less tech-savvy. We’re here to help! This quick start guide will give you the foundational knowledge to dive straight in and get creative with your supporter outreach. Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • Understanding the Google Ad Grants Program
  • Preparing Your Website for the Google Ad Grant
  • Creating Ads With the Google Grant

We’ve seen how the grant enables small organizations to increase their digital presence and get their content in front of people who feel passionate about their causes. This guide will equip you with what you need to get started. However, we recommend working with experts to craft your Google Grants management strategy to maximize the opportunity. Let’s get started!

Understanding the Google Ad Grants Program

While once out of reach, nonprofits can now use paid advertising for free through the Google Grants program.

When accepted into the program, you can receive up to $10,000 monthly to promote your nonprofit’s web content with Google ads. Google strategically places these ads on search engine results pages, such as at the top. Most often, nonprofits promote engagement opportunities, donation forms, and other mission-related content. It’s the perfect addition to any nonprofit’s digital marketing strategy. 

While there’s a lot to learn about the program, here’s what you need to know at the surface level:

  • Eligibility: Unlike traditional grants, any eligible nonprofit that applies will receive the funding. You’re likely eligible if you’re a registered 501(c)(3) organization. However, governmental organizations, healthcare organizations, and educational institutions are automatically ineligible.
  • The Application Process: While relatively straightforward, applying requires several steps. Start by registering with TechSoup, an organization that works with companies like Google to provide discounts and free technology to nonprofits. After that, you’ll need to get started with Google For Nonprofits, fill out an eligibility form, and submit your Google Grant application.
  • Compliance Requirements: Participants must follow rules to stay eligible. For example, you’ll need to use high-quality keywords and maintain a 5% click-through rate. With this in mind, allocate time each month toward keeping your account compliant. A Google Grants agency can come in handy with ongoing management if you’re limited on staff time.

Beyond getting started, there’s much to learn about Google Ad Grants. After all, the program constantly evolves to ensure it stays valuable for participating nonprofits, web users, and Google itself.

Preparing Your Website for the Google Ad Grant

Not only will designing an organized and helpful website help you become eligible for the Google Ad Grant, but it’s what will drive conversions. Your website is the core of your Google Ad Grants strategy. With any ad you create, you’ll drive traffic to it.

That’s why we recommend refining your site by taking steps such as:

  • Create promotable content. The program aims to amplify content that prospects find valuable and will push your mission forward. Create plenty of pages for your ads. As a reminder, nonprofits often promote donation forms, volunteer opportunities, events, and educational content about their missions.
  • Secure your site. The last thing you want is to deter users with an unreliable website. Google requires nonprofits to install a secure sockets layers (SSL) certificate. This encrypts any data transferred on your site. For example, think about when someone donates. They share their full name, contact information, and payment details. An SSL certificate will automatically encrypt sensitive information like this.
  • Include mission details. This will help establish your organization’s validity to Google and visitors who click your ads. A few basic recommendations include putting your EIN in your website’s footer. Then, create an ‘About’ page describing your mission, activities, who you serve, and your location.

For a deeper dive into website optimization for your ads, explore Getting Attention’s guide to the Google Ad Grant website requirements. It explains every part of Google’s website policy, so you can get approved and drive real value through the program.

Creating Ads With the Google Grant

Once you bring your website up to speed, here comes the fun part: creating your ads! You’ll want to consider a few elements when getting started, beginning with a basic understanding of your Ad Grants account structure.

Understanding Your Account Structure

Before writing your ads, know how your account is set up. Each Google Grant account is broken down into a few parts, including:

  • Campaigns: These are your account’s largest building blocks. Each campaign contains multiple ad groups and even more ads. For the best results, we recommend centering each campaign around a goal or theme, such as “Volunteering” with volunteer-related keywords or “Fundraising” with donation-related keywords. Sticking to themes will allow you to organize your account.
  • Ad Groups: Within each campaign, you can create multiple ad groups. Think of these as collections of ads that target specific keywords. For example, you may create an ad group focused on specific audiences or campaigns, such as “fundraising for adoption services.”
  • Ads and Keywords: Within each ad group, you’ll create multiple ads for your selected keywords. Ads are comprised of headlines, descriptions, and ad extensions to entice users to visit your site. For your keywords, think through the terms someone might search on Google to learn more about your cause.

By understanding the basic Google Ad Grant account structure, you can create targeted campaigns that reach your desired audience, drive traffic to your site, and engage supporters in your mission. This brings us to the actual creation of your ads.

Writing Your Ad Headlines and Descriptions

Now is when you let your creativity shine. Crafting your ads requires you to think through how you’ll infuse your mission into your ads and drive users to click through to your site. Here are a few tips for creating compelling ads:

  • Keep ads concise. Your headlines and descriptions are limited in length. Keep them short and persuasive.
  • Be relevant. Make ads relevant by incorporating keywords and using language that will resonate with your target audience.
  • Include a call to action. What step do you want users to take after reading your ad? Encourage users to take action by encouraging them to donate, volunteer, or learn more.
  • Use active language. Similarly, use action-oriented language to inspire action, such as “Join us in making a difference” or “Help us change lives.”
  • Test and optimize. Create multiple ad variations to find which one performs best. Google even offers a feature that automatically rotates through various headlines and descriptions to find the best combination.

We recommend working with an expert if you want to dabble in advanced techniques like ad extensions. Nonprofits Source’s Google Grants manager guide explains that achieving your advertising goals can take trial and error (AKA time). Backed by expert advice, you can harness the grant’s power with features that inspire more users to visit your site.

Using Targeting Features

As with any type of digital marketing, you’ll want to ensure your ads reach the right audiences. That’s why Google enables targeting features for nonprofits. Google Ad Grant accounts have access to a variety of targeting options, including:

  • Geographic targeting: Target specific geographic areas to reach users located near your events or affected by your work. For example, promote in-person events to nearby supporters, market services to beneficiaries, and fundraise in relevant areas.
  • Demographic targeting: Nonprofits can target specific demographic groups, such as age, gender, and household income. This can help reach specific sets of users who fit your desired audience.
  • Device targeting: Target specific devices, such as mobile devices or desktops. If you’re working with a limited budget, you might exclude tablets from receiving your ads if you notice these users have lower conversion rates. For reference, your conversion rate is a specific type of web engagement data that refers to the percentage of site visitors who complete a desired action, like donating, registering for an event, or joining an email list.

By using targeting features to your advantage, your nonprofit can ensure its Google Grant ads are shown to the right audiences. Ultimately, you’ll connect with motivated prospects, boost awareness for your mission, and drive users to act.

Getting Started

When you put thought into your ads, you can deliver your website’s most valuable pages to new prospects. Plus, you can stay top of mind for current supporters searching for your cause online. Whether you want to boost fundraising results or recruit new volunteers, the Google Ad Grant can help you get there.

Now, use the advice we shared to bring your website up to speed, apply for the program, and make the most of your Google Grant account.

About the author: Jessica King, Business Lead at Getting Attention

Jessica helps nonprofits acquire and manage the Google Ad Grant to expand their impact. Prior to her work at Getting Attention, Jessica worked in nonprofit and higher education organizations focusing on communication and digital marketing, and most recently in search engine optimization in the mission-driven sector. Jessica holds a master’s degree in communication from Virginia Tech. In her free time, you can find her reading, building furniture, and hanging out with her cats, Benny and Olive.