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Low Hanging Fruit: Make the Most of Your Google Ad Grant


This is the lowest hanging fruit for any and every nonprofit.  Let me rephrase – this fruit is lying on the ground, never goes bad, and is waiting to be picked up and enjoyed by each and every nonprofit marketer.

Qualified nonprofits may apply for $10,000 per month (to start), in free Google AdWords spend. Applications for the Google Ad Grant program can take up to six months to get approved, but this is too large of value not to be taken advantage of.

There are some restrictions to this to keep it from adversely affecting Google’s for-profit AdWords business. Here are the most significant ones:

  • $2 maximum Cost-per-Click bid
  • $329 maximum daily spend (this is how you get to $10,000 per month)
  • Text ads only
  • Keyword targeting only

The trick (or opportunity), however, is figuring out how to take advantage of the grant in such a crowded medium. Here are three steps to crushing your AdWords campaigns:

  1. Set objectives for your campaigns. No matter how good your ad placement and copy are, it means nothing if you don’t know what to do with all of those impressions. Showing off your snazzy new homepage rarely creates the long-term relationships needed for good donors. Do you have an advocacy action that you need? Event to sell out? Or can you provide them of something of value to start building that affinity? For what it's worth, donation campaigns using Google Ad Grants have been slow to perform for most of the organization's we've helped.

  2. Good cause keywords don’t necessarily translate into good AdWords keywords.  For example, a conservation organization may have a large initiative to combat erosion. Unfortunately, no one Googles your local erosion issues. Instead, try keywords that the thousands of visiting tourists might use – raft trips, hiking trails, etc.  Do your research with Google's keyword planner.

  3. OPTIMIZE. It will take some research and practice, but your goal is to use up as much of this money as possible. This opens the door to an even bigger grant. If you can efficiently and fully spend your $10,000/mo., you may apply to get a $40,000 grant. That’s right; without investing too much, you just earned a $480,000 yearly budget!

It is very difficult to learn how to optimize your keywords, copy, and spending to achieve all of this, but fortunately, it is a free path to get there. Surprisingly, very few nonprofits are able to take advantage of this. Master this system and your organization will never know how to thank you. Thanks Google!


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