Nonprofit organizations are familiar with the process of grant acquisition. Since grants are often a necessary lifeline for programming, outreach, and even administration, organizations need to know what grants can help them achieve their goals. If a grant is contested, has rigorous requirements, or limited usage, it may not be worth the time and effort necessary to apply for it. Therefore, nonprofits need to be aware of grants that promise a high return on their investment.
One such opportunity is the Google Ad Grant. Over 100,000 organizations have used the Grant to increase awareness of their organization, drive traffic to their website, and engage with their audience. The Grant can be used effectively by nonprofits of any size. Finally, the grant is acquired for free and can be easily maintained by any nonprofit with a committed digital presence. At Nonprofit Megaphone, we help nonprofits achieve, manage, and utilize the Google Ad Grant. As experts on the subject, we’ve helped nonprofits of all sizes use the Grant successfully.
The Google Ad Grant gives eligible nonprofits up to $10,000 every month to spend on Google Ads. These sponsored links within Google search results are valuable because they bypass traditional search engine optimization algorithms, taking out much guesswork. Instead, Google Ads are assigned based on relevancy and website quality, which are much easier to control. Google Grant funds allocate automatically, and your spending does not affect your compliance with the Grant.
Instead, Google asks that you achieve minimum success with your Google Ads, ensuring that you’re using the Grant to improve your overall website performance. Considering the low costs of compliance, acquiring the Google Ad Grant can increase website traffic and sustainably promote your organization substantially.
Google Ad Grant 101
The Google Ad Grant is a program started and administered by Google. As their search engine gained supremacy, more businesses used their Google Ads platform to spread their message. However, as more organizations began to use the forum, competing for valuable space became more and more expensive. This eventually priced out many nonprofits, especially those with fewer resources. The Google Ad Grant was launched to give certain nonprofits the chance to use Google Ads cost-effectively.
The Grant is known for its affordability, making it an ideal option for any eligible nonprofit. Once acquired, your organization will have the Grant forever, so long as you maintain compliance with Google’s standards. However, these standards are clear, simple, and variable, depending on your organization’s size and scope. While organizations with more resources may meet them more easily, good management can result in stress-free compliance.
The Grant serves a valuable purpose as it gives nonprofits the ability to market themselves without tremendous financial risk. The primary function of the Grant is to drive traffic to your website. This is an essential first step in any marketing effort, but an organization’s overall success depends on whether they can convert that traffic into something of material value.
If your organization is interested in the Google Ad Grant, continue reading and take the following steps to confirm your eligibility and acquire the Grant.
Step 1: Determine Eligibility
Like any grant, the Google Ad Grant has specific eligibility requirements. Thankfully, they couldn’t be more simple. An organization is eligible for the grant only if they:
- Are a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.
- Are not a school, hospital, or government agency.
If your organization is eligible, you’re free to continue onto the next step.
Step 2: Create a Google for Nonprofits account.
Now you’ll need to confirm your eligibility with Google. This involves the simple process of creating a Google for Nonprofits account. This account allows you to interface with Google and will be the hub for your Ad Grant activities. After creating the account, you’ll need to confirm your eligibility. This is done by creating an account with Techsoup. Techsoup will verify your eligibility on Google’s behalf and will issue a token to you. You can then apply the token on your Google for Nonprofits account and officially begin the acquisition process.
Step 3: Set up your nonprofit website.
The first official step in the acquisition is ensuring that your site can safely and effectively use the Grant. These requirements are designed to make sure your site meets the minimum standards for compliance.
Install Google Analytics
Google requires that your site have a form of conversion tracking installed. A conversion is an action of value that a user makes on your website and is a significant indicator of success—as such, tracking conversions is a great benefit to your grant manager. The easiest way to track conversions is to install Google Analytics on your website. In addition to conversion tracking, Google Analytics will give you numerous other tracking tools, giving you a full suite of data analytics tools to evaluate the performance of your website.
Google Ad Grant regulations require that a nonprofit’s Employer Identification Number be placed on any page where a visitor may donate. However, we recommend that nonprofits put their EIN in the footer of their website. This ensures that it’s always displayed and won’t ever have to be adjusted if your website undergoes significant changes. Further, since the EIN is public information available via the IRS, this poses little security or privacy risk.
Google requires that your site have an SSL certificate to use the Google Ad Grant. An SSL certificate is a simple security measure that ensures your website is protected from common security risks. Further, SSL certificates are often provided free of charge from popular website providers or can be purchased at a meager cost. Website security is important to keep your organization and its users safe, so invest in broader measures if necessary.
After doing the previous steps, you’re ready to submit your grant application for approval formally! After submitting your application, Google will take a few days and evaluate your website based on the requirements above. If everything is up to their standards, your application will be approved, and you’ll be permitted to begin part 2 of the acquisition process. Part two entails setting up your initial Google Ads account and ensuring that the account can meet the minimum compliance standards.
Step 4: Set up your initial campaign in Google Ad Grant
After your initial application is accepted, Google will move you to the next phase of the acquisition process. This step involves getting into the Google Ads interface and setting up your account for long-term success. If done correctly, completing this step will make your organization ready to easily meet Google’s minimum compliance standards.
Google Ads accounts are required to have a specific structure in order to be successful and remain compliant. This structure starts with campaigns. Campaigns are the largest units within Google Ads and usually signify a broad category. Within campaigns, it is necessary to have at least two Ad Groups.
Ad Groups are more specific categories within a campaign. Further, each Ad Group must have at least two ads. Ads are what appear in Google searches and are specific to certain keywords. Having two ads within each Ad Group allows you to compare the performance between the two. This act of comparison is crucial to successful grant management. By tweaking underperforming ads, you can learn why some ads perform better than others and improve the success of your account over time.
Once your account is set up correctly, you’re free to submit the second part of your application to Google. After a few days, Google will respond to your application. So long as the structure is consistent with the guidelines, you’ll be approved and can begin using your account.
At this point, you’ve successfully received the Google Ad Grant. So long as your account remains in compliance, you’ll be able to create new campaigns, ad groups, and ads in accordance with your organization’s priorities. From here, the goal is to manage your account successfully, drive traffic to your website, and grow your base of supporters.
Landing the Google Ad Grant is a big accomplishment that can lead your organization’s long-term growth. As an easy, cost-effective way for nonprofits to market themselves, the Grant can be used to share your organization with a brand new audience. The acquisition process is designed to familiarize you with the basics of Google Grant management, helping even small organizations learn the basics.
Once your Grant is acquired, your goal is then to use it to maximum success. This involves learning more about successful grant management. In addition, organizations should continually invest in improving their website, ensuring that visitors have a plethora of high-quality content to engage with. With proper grant management and a high-quality website, you’ll begin to see increased traffic, conversions, and growth.
Grant Hensel is the CEO of Nonprofit Megaphone, an agency focused 100% on Google Grant Management for nonprofits. NPM is honored to manage the Google Grant for 370+ leading nonprofits worldwide and to be an inaugural member of the Google Ad Grant Certified Professionals community.