The Google Ad Grant offers eligible nonprofits $10,000 per month in free advertising credits, but what exactly can those credits do for your nonprofit?
If you’re thinking about applying for the Google Ad Grant, knowing how it can be used can help you decide whether or not it is worth your time.
If you’re already a grantee, reading through these 6 common ways that organizations leverage the Grant can provide you with new ideas and strategies, and show how the Google Ad Grant can increase its tangible impact on your nonprofit—both on and offline.
1. Raise Awareness Through Informational or Educational Content
Google Ads opens your nonprofit up a whole new audience to inform about your cause and the good work that you do. If your goal is get your message out to more people and increase the volume of traffic to your website, setting up awareness campaigns is a simple and effective way to do this.
First, let’s go over how Google Ads works. The goal of a Google Ads campaign is to send users to a specific page on your website. Once you choose a page to promote in your ads, you will build a list of keywords that are highly relevant to the content on that page.
Google acts as the matchmaker: A keyword can trigger your ad to show when a user searches for related terms.
To build a keyword list for ongoing awareness campaigns, research broad terms and phrases related to your cause that a high volume of users are already searching for.
An organization dedicated to fighting climate change, for example, might want to drive awareness about carbon footprints. Their keywords might include: “carbon footprint”, “ecological footprint”, and “reduce my carbon footprint”. If a user searches for “what is a carbon footprint” on Google, your keyword “carbon footprint” may trigger your ad to show:
- Don’t bog users down with dense paragraphs of content. Bullet points, graphics, and quick facts are a better way to hold attention and get your point across.
- Take advantage of awareness traffic by encouraging users to take action after they’ve read your informational content: Can they sign up for your newsletter? Donate to your cause? Sign a petition?
- Google Ads can also help you leverage spikes in searches about current events by adding keywords related to trending topics. The climate change organization example above might have incorporated: “green new deal” or “youth climate strike” keywords into their account when those events first made front page news.
2. Build Your Email List
Email marketing can be one of the most powerful tools for driving audience engagement with your nonprofit. But to truly unlock the power of that email marketing, you need to build your email list.
By using Google Ads, you can get in front of a new audience and convince them to click through to your website. Once they’re there, your website can close the deal by asking them to sign up for your email newsletter to receive email updates about your cause.
A different, more creative approach is to use Google Ads to promote a free asset (like an educational PDF, guide, checklist, or poster) that users can download by providing their email.
Free downloads are a great way to gather high quality emails, since the users who end up taking action demonstrate a high level of interest in what your nonprofit does.
- Build a designated landing page that highlights a single call to action to sign up to your email list, boosting your conversion rate.
- Set up an automated “Welcome” email to new email subscribers to re-introduce yourself and stay fresh in their minds.
3. Generate Interest In Events & Increase Signups
If you’ve ever run an event for your nonprofit, you know that generating interest and securing signups is key to the success of the event. Google Ads can be a fantastic way to drive traffic to these events and give people that final push they need to register.
Approach your ad campaign from as many angles as possible.
For example, say your organization is hosting a virtual art workshop for kids. Build your ad groups by breaking down your target audience into different search intents: Parents who want to entertain kids at home (at home kids activities, fun projects for kids), parents looking for educational online activities (online classes for kids, e-learning sites for kids), and parents who want to get crafty (art lessons for kids, easy childrens art projects).
The more search intents you identify, the more opportunities you create to drive signups.
Your ads should include bold calls to action like “Register Today” and “Sign Up Now,” along with phrases that demonstrate your event’s value, like “Limited Spots Available,” or “Free & Accessible.”
- Use countdown headlines in your ads to create a sense of urgency and give a final push for signups.
- Make sure you set an End Date for your campaign so that your ads are not running after the event date.
4. Connect With Volunteers
Volunteers are the powerhouse behind many nonprofits. Their support and service help keep the organization running and give valuable help to nonprofit staff who are often stretched thin. The Google Ad Grant can connect you with the right people who are ready and eager to volunteer.
Start with general interest keywords like: “volunteer opportunities”, “community service”, and “volunteer near me”, and then drill down to capture users specifically interested in your cause. A nonprofit tutoring organization might use “volunteer with kids”, “volunteer with students”, and “volunteer teaching”.
Here’s an example of an ad triggered by a user searching for “places to volunteer with students”:
Are there ways for volunteers to help your nonprofit virtually, like calling donors, writing for your blog, or managing social media accounts?
If so, include virtual keywords like: “virtual volunteering”, “online volunteer opportunities”, and “virtual volunteer roles”.
- If you’re looking for in-person volunteers, make sure your geographic targeting is set to the local areas where you accept them.
- Not looking for volunteers at the moment, but might need them in the future? Set up a landing page that encourages people to leave their contact information for future opportunities.
4. Fundraise By Connecting With Cause Donors
Donations are the lifeblood of nonprofits, and while government or grant funding are great assets, building a strong base of donors can provide more long term security.
When used creatively, the Google Ad Grant can be a powerful tool to connect with potential donors. General “donate to x cause” keywords have lower search volumes and can be highly competitive, so we recommend using cause-based keywords to capture the attention of users who show an interest in what you do.
It’s important that your donation ads send visitors directly to a donation page, and that the page has high-quality content.
If a user who doesn’t know your brand is met with a donation form and no further information, chances are they’ll leave the page without donating. Show users why they should donate to your organization and what their dollars will go to support.
Not only will your keywords get better quality scores (which means more traffic), but your page will be more engaging and convincing.
- When running a donation campaign, add a donation call-to-action to your brand campaign ads. People who know or have heard of your brand are the most likely users to donate.
- Setting up eCommerce to track individual donations will give you an exact number for the value that Google Ads is generating for your nonprofit.
5. Reach More Of Those You Want To Serve
If providing a service that helps people is your nonprofit’s focus, your Google Ad Grant should be used to reach those people in need.
When building out your keyword list, think outside the box about the search terms that potential clients might use to find help. “Food banks near me”, “best food banks in [city]”, and “find a food pantry” are all great keywords for a food bank, but adding keywords like: “free hot meals”, “meal subsidies”, and “how to get food stamps” might connect you with even more people struggling with food insecurity.
Your ad text is critical here. Give users as much relevant information as possible so users know exactly how they can access your services:
- Use ad extensions to provide more information: Call Extensions make your phone number more accessible, Sitelinks can direct users to your Hours & Location page, and Structured Snippets give you a way to list all of your service offerings.
- Add negative keywords to prevent your ads from showing to irrelevant audiences.
6. Raise More Fund Through Online Sales
Many nonprofits rely on sales to fund their mission: Nonprofit theaters sell tickets, museums sell memberships and exhibit tickets, mental health organizations offer counselling services, and charity thrift stores sell clothes and home goods—to name a few.
If your nonprofit sells products or services online, the Google Ad Grant can help you increase sales.
For example, a nonprofit museum wants to sell tickets for their upcoming exhibit. Their list of keywords includes “local museums” and “museums near me”. Google Ads can promote the special exhibit to users searching for related terms:
Tracking your eCommerce data is crucial to growing sales through Google Ads. Knowing which keywords led to a sale and how much revenue they generated (and which keywords aren’t working as well) can help you tailor your strategy.
- About half of all eCommerce transactions are made on a mobile device. Make sure you have ad variations that are optimized for mobile with shorter headlines and descriptions.
- Use ad extensions to your advantage. Callout Extensions can promote discounts and highlight your unique selling points, Sitelink Extensions can give users more product options to click, and Call Extensions give them an easy way to reach you.
Get Started Today
The Google Ad Grant is an incredible resource for nonprofits. In addition to boosting your nonprofit’s online presence and reaching more of the right users, the Grant can bring real, tangible value to your organization in the form of donations, signups, leads, sales, and volunteers. We’re huge believers in helping nonprofit organizations find and use available resources to improve their efforts online.