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In prior articles about Google Ad Grants, I’ve primary shared technical advice, particularly in light of new compliance requirements. Yet for nonprofits that aren’t as familiar with Google Ads, there’s an opportunity to take a bigger picture view.
Google Ad Grants gives you up to $120,000 per year on the world’s largest advertising platform, which allows your organization to send users from Google’s search engine to your website when they search for a term that’s relevant to your cause.
Given this basic function, how can your nonprofit use this tool? Start by amplifying your strategic initiatives.
As a nonprofit, you exist to do some good in the world. And you need outreach to make your mission successful.
Children’s Eye Foundation uses Google Ad Grants to spread the word to parents that many eye conditions thought to be permanent can be treated if they’re caught early enough. With the Google Ads that link to this page on the foundation’s site, more people all over the world can learn how to treat their children’s eye conditions.
Volunteer, job, and board positions
Use a Google Ad Grants campaign for your open positions for volunteers, jobs, and board. The tool is especially useful for taking your job listings nationwide for people searching with terms like “nonprofit jobs” or “Membership job.”
Selling products or services
The most common use of Google Ads is to sell. To qualify for Ad Grants, Google requires that your nonprofit website be mission-focused, but they don’t ban commercial activity entirely. If you do sell products or services online, such as textbooks, set up ecommerce tracking in Google Analytics so that you can see the data on the web visits that lead to sales, and improve future sales by appropriately informing the maximize conversions bidding system.
Maximize Conversions Bidding is what Google calls a “smart bidding” strategy. Instead of setting a specific maximum that you’re willing to pay for a click, you instruct the machine to bid what it thinks is necessary to get more conversions (the desired action that you want a person to take, such as a purchase, an email list signup, or a contact form submission). Valid conversion tracking is mandatory for any accounts enrolled after January 1, 2018, for it to be compliant (older accounts were grandfathered in).
Similar to sales, Google Ad Grants can promote auction items. Creating a Google Ad Grants campaign for your auction item is the digital version of attracting more buyers in the auction hall. Getting more bidders in the game, particularly those who are searching for the item you have, will help you sell that item at a higher price.
Many nonprofits will sell one unique item as part of a fundraiser, such as a football signed by an NFL player.
This one is a bit tricky, since most people don’t often search for how to become members of a nonprofit. However, if there are member benefits to joining your organization, bid on Ad keywords related to the benefits your provide.
For example, a Friends of the Library keyword might be “discount books” and a member benefit would be 10% off at the store or an invitation to a members-only pre-sale.
“Things to do in NYC” gets searched 135,000 times a month. Take advantage of web traffic in your geographical area by promoting your events to generate more revenue.
Classes and videos
Another thing you can promote is a class, whether in-person or online. If your class isn’t behind a paywall, you can embed the video on your site and set up pre-roll ads for the video. Google has forbidden Grantees from using AdSense ads, but have not restricted video ads, at least at the time of this publication. If you do pre-roll ads, be sure to monitor compliance rule updates, as Google may take further steps in restricting other types of advertisements for Grantees.
A common misconception is that Google Ads are great for getting donations. Though you can and should build campaigns for your donation page, a better development strategy is to use Google Ad Grants to build your lead list and actively pursue those leads.
Those who access your site through Google Ad Grants are likely visiting for the first time. Expecting them to donate as a first-time visitor is the digital version of bumping into a stranger on the street, making small talk, and then asking them to support your nonprofit. If you’re looking to use digital marketing for fundraising, check out my recent article on Facebook’s Giving Tuesday promotion.
Go beyond these recommendations
Don’t feel limited by this list. If there’s a project or strategy unique to your nonprofit, go for it. Though there are a variety of circumstances that will affect your level of success, Google Ad Grant campaigns can be created to raise the visibility of any page on your website.