At a time when digital and social marketing is becoming an essential component of overall advertising strategy, nonprofit organizations often struggle to convey their message and benefits due to lack of funds. Many nonprofits are unaware of a program implemented by Google that allows nonprofits to overcome this challenge by taking advantage of business suite apps and advertising at no cost: Google for Nonprofits.
Google for Nonprofits is a program for qualifying 501(c)(3) organizations that allows free access to many of Google’s paid business features including Google apps for nonprofits, the YouTube nonprofit program, and the One Today app. The huge draw is the Google AdWords nonprofit grant. The grant permits qualifying nonprofit organizations the opportunity to obtain up to $10,000 per month in free AdWords click costs.
For those unfamiliar, Google AdWords is Google’s pay-per-click (PPC) search engine marketing platform where advertisers will create ads to show in Google and pay for every time someone clicks through to their website. This is a tremendous advertising platform because it is instantaneous and free to use. Google never charges qualifying nonprofits for account ownership or setup (just click costs), and the ads start showing immediately.
The caveat to this advertising medium is that the click costs are based on industry competition and can range anywhere between $0.25 to over $100 per click. For-profit advertisers measuring return on investment (“ROI”) can easily spend thousands of dollars per month in AdWords click costs and justify it with hard profit and measurable ROI, but nonprofits generally only have a fraction of that budget to work with-if any at all.
The Google AdWords grant addresses this issue in its entirety by giving nonprofits up to $10,000 per month in free click costs. Thus, the true value of the Google AdWords grant is that nonprofits have the opportunity to compete for ad space with larger paying advertisers. Keeping in mind that Google AdWords is always free to use, this essentially gives nonprofits the opportunity to run free Google AdWords campaigns.
The great thing about Google AdWords is that you can focus on multiple marketing objectives at once — branding and organization awareness/visibility, as well as generating leads to the website in the form of donations, registrations, volunteers, and more. It’s simple to simultaneously promote upcoming event registrations and service offerings because the core audience for each is unique.
The only true limit is time that can be dedicated to the account. Money should not be an object of concern — $10,000 per month is generous, and most nonprofits will never come close to using the full amount on a monthly basis. Not only can you spend $10,000 per month in free advertising, you can also use, Google Analytics at no cost— allowing you to track goal completions on your website. These are conversion actions that allow you to measure ROI. Examples include event registrations, contact forms, and phone calls. Having this information will tell you exactly what ad content is resonating with your ideal audience and you can taper your strategy to drive more results.
To be eligible for the Google Adwords Grant, an organization must hold current 501(c)(3) status as determined by the IRS and not fall into one of the restricted categories: government entities, hospital and health care organizations, or schools, childcare centers, academic institutions, and universities.
The Google grant has specific guidelines that must be followed 100%, or Google can suspend the account. Once that happens, the decision is final, and that grant account is permanently lost.
Here are the guidelines grant recipients MUST follow:
- $10,000/month maximum limit
- $2.00 maximum cost-per-click for all account keywords
- The ads must be text only, with no display network, image ads, or video ads allowed
- The ads must be limited to Google search engine only and are not eligible to show on Google’s network of search partners
- The time zone must always be set to your current time zone, the country must always be set to USA, and the currency must always be set to USD.
Finally, and I cannot under stress enough, how vital it is to never add a payment method to the account, despite Google telling you to do so. It immediately negates the ad grant, and is also irreversible. The good news is that Google has a dedicated free setup and support line (1.855.607.0435) for Google AdWords accounts.
To optimize the value of a Google AdWords grant you need a dedicated (and knowledgeable) staff member to manage the account, or consider hiring a third party management solution. An experienced Google AdWords user will know how to setup and optimize the account to prevent issues from occurring, and there are professionals that offer cost-effective solutions for Google AdWords grant management.
The Google for Nonprofits program and Google AdWords Grant provides immeasurable value to any qualifying 501(c)(3) organization, regardless of scope of use. If you or someone you know is associated with a nonprofit organization, don’t hesitate to apply. It’s free, the application process is not time consuming, and there is no risk even if the organization is not approved. Start here -> www.google.com/nonprofits, and best of luck promoting your nonprofit organization to the world!
Jeff Rothe, MBA is a Senior PPC Strategist with Pam Ann Marketing, LLC, and provides consulting services to increase website traffic through search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising including Google AdWords.