We all have more demands on our time than we can keep up with. And that's why, it's always valuable to get some advice and learning, every now and then, from a seasoned professional on a topic that might be incredibly important, but isn't necessarily in our wheelhouse. Here are some tips and lots of good advice from someone who clearly understands Google ad grants. 


Your Roadmap to Google Ad Grant Success
By Mary Gross

Getting your nonprofit approved for a Google Grant is an awesome first step towards building awareness about your organization and cause. With up to $10,000 per month in free digital ads, the power is in your hands to leverage this exposure to do great things.

Unfortunately, for many nonprofits who are approved for a Google Grant, big plans quickly turn into big disappointments.

It turns out that running a successful Google Ads campaign isn’t as simple as it sounds.

It’s not incredibly difficult, either, but it does require considerable time, effort and digital marketing knowhow to achieve the results you’re after.

To help you get started, here are some of the most valuable keys to Google Grant Success.

Understand and follow the Google Grant rules

Google gives away $10,000 each month in free ads to your nonprofit for one reason. They want to see your organization succeed!

Which is why they also set a stringent set of guidelines to make sure their gift is being put to good use.

Follow the guidelines and your campaign is more likely to succeed. Ignore them, and not only will your goals go by the wayside, Google will suspend your account and pause your Google Grant.

This isn’t meant to scare you away. Just to emphasize how important it is for nonprofits to understand and adhere to the system of boundaries Google has set for the program.

Here are some examples of the types of rules we’re talking about:
•  Maintain a 5% CTR (click-through rate)
•  Ads must use geo-targeting
•  Keywords must have a quality score higher than 2
•  Do not target overly generic or off-limits keywords
•  Ads must only point to your approved website
•  Your website must be high quality and functional
•  Maintain a minimum of two active ad groups per campaign each containing a set of closely related keywords and two active text ads plus a minimum of two sitelink ad extensions

Effectively structure your account

One of the biggest mistakes newly approved nonprofits make with the Google Grant program is to run the same ad copy for all of the keywords they are hoping to target.

The most effective ads will be those that are extremely relevant to the end user. To run relevant ads, you’ll need to create ad clusters, which are themed ad groups related to similar but slightly different keywords.

Similarly, you’ll want to separate these ad groups into campaigns so you can better divide out your budget across the different topics that are most important to your organization.

Structuring your account into campaigns and ad groups isn’t just an effective way to ensure you’re running relevant, better targeted ads for specific keywords, it also makes it easier to raise/lower budget allocation for specific campaigns in any given month.

Write effective ads

Just like a for-profit advertisement, you’ll need to create compelling ad copy to convince users to give your ad a click. Fortunately, writing effective ads isn’t as hard as it sounds.
•  Keep it simple
•  Use short sentences
•  Avoid jargon, acronyms and abbreviations that are not commonly known
•  Pinpoint the most unique aspects of your organization or service and lay them out in plain English
•  Make sure ads are related to the targeted keywords

Write 3-5 compelling ads per ad group that are relevant to the keywords in that ad group. The ads will rotate and prioritize the ads that are performing better than others in the ad group.

Always include 3 to 5 unique ads per ad group for best results. Ads will rotate to track performance and then prioritize those with the highest CTR.

Pro Tip: Be sure to learn about ad extensions to add useful links below your ad that both add extra characters to your copy and help your ad get noticed.

Select the right keywords

Think about which keywords you would use to try and find your organization online. Then, plug them into the keyword planner to find related keywords that you can cluster together for each ad group.

Be aware that unformatted keywords will be shown to a very broad audience and this is exactly the type of thing that you want to avoid. For example, say your nonprofit provides wheelchairs to people who cannot afford them. It naturally makes sense to target the “wheelchair” keyword – but without formatting, you could also wind up getting clicks from users searching for wheelchair ramps, wheelchair parts, wheelchair purchase and so on.

Learn about all the different ways you can format keywords to refine your audience and make sure you’re showing ads to the right people.

Pro Tip: The use of negative keywords is one of the easiest ways to eliminate false positives when it comes to search strings. Looking at our example above, adding a negative keyword for “ramp” would mean that anyone searching for a contractor to build a wheelchair ramp for their location would not be shown your ad.

Leverage Google Analytics

Convincing someone to click on your ad is just the beginning. True Google Grant success is all about conversions: Getting people to donate, volunteer, sign up for your newsletter, utilize your services, etc.

Browsers to your website are great but it’s important to keep your eye on the prize and track every click to your page to see what people are doing there. Google makes this easy to do. Check out their conversion tracking guide to learn how you can keep track of what exactly users are doing on your website after they’ve clicked on your ad.

Automate bid setting to save time and maximize conversions.

Maximize your conversions by implementing a Smart Bidding strategy. Automate bids up to your max of $329 per day for best results.

Test, test, re-test and test again

Running a successful Google Ads campaign is not a passive, set-it-and-forget-it activity.

Repeat. Running a successful Google Ads campaign is not a passive, set-it-and-forget-it activity.

No matter how well you’ve optimized your campaign from the get go, it will always need tweaking and improving. Ad copy goes stale, your message may not resonate the same all year long, newcomers come to target your same keywords, and on and on.

Don’t make the huge newbie mistake of setting your account up, activating your ads and then thinking it will run itself. You must stay on top of your campaigns. Nonprofits that do not actively manage their campaigns are likely headed on a path towards Google Grant suspension.

Consider a paid ad account to complement your grant

Way up there in the Google Grant guidelines, we mentioned that certain keywords are restricted by Google when setting up your grant-funded campaign.

So, what do you do if some of these restricted keywords are EXACTLY what you’d like to target?

You go ahead and set up a paid ad account and use this account to target these keywords. Don’t worry, it’s easy to set a spending cap and turn ads on/off to make sure you never go over budget on paid ads.

Promote products and services your nonprofit offers

Google Grants can be used to promote products and services your nonprofit charges money for as long as you meet the following criteria:
•  Commercial activity cannot be the primary or prominent purpose of your website
•  Your website cannot resemble a business page
•  Your organization must serve the public in some way and not only those who pay for your service
•  Your organization may not promise to deliver results only after a purchase
•  All commercial activity, products or services must support your mission
•  Your website must clearly explain how the funds from the sale of products/services are used

Watching nonprofits face reinvention this past year spurred nonprofit/digital marketing professional Mary Gross to create a new company to help small to medium size nonprofits strategically maximize the use of the Google Ad Grant.  Her team from Advertise My Nonprofit is focused on ROI, she says and adds that with a small monthly investment, nonprofits can yield great benefit. If you found this article valuable, read more about Advertise My Nonprofit.