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Tara West

AdWords For Charities: Get $10,000 In Free AdWords Ad Spend!

16th Oct 2014 Paid Search, Google AdWords, Paid Search 5 minutes to read

charityAs a charity, you rely on getting your message out there about the great work you do, in order to encourage donations and fundraising activity. This means marketing is naturally important to you, but as a non-profit organisation you need to ensure you’re using your budget as effectively as possible.

Well how about if you could market your charity to a huge audience who are already guaranteed to be looking for what you want to promote, and it wouldn’t cost you a penny? With Google Grants, this is a reality.

What Is Google Grants?

Google Grants is a system whereby non-profit organisations can get $10,000 per month in AdWords ad spend absolutely free.

Who Is Eligible For Google Grants?

You must be an official charity and hold a valid charity status. In the UK this means being registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales.

Unfortunately, government organisations, schools and hospitals or medical groups aren’t eligible at this time. There is a separate Google Education scheme education organisations can apply to.

What Does The Grant Mean For Your AdWords Account?

search only

As the scheme is a grant, there are a few restrictions and requirements, but they do not outweigh the benefits of the free ad spend:

Search Only Campaigns

The grant can only be used on search campaigns. This doesn’t mean that your charity can’t use other advertising features such as Remarketing and Display advertising, but you’ll need to run them from a separate account.

Your Bids Are Capped

Bids are capped at a maximum of $2. This means that you can’t rely on upping your bids constantly to improve performance, so you’ll need to be even more effective with your account optimisation. You might want to consider working with an agency for the initial set-up of your campaigns and for ongoing optimisation, so you can ensure they are as well structured and optimised as possible and that your ads will be eligible to show as often as possible despite the capped bids.

Ecommerce Sites

If you’re selling products on your site, 100% of the revenue from them must go to support the charity program.

Advertising On Your Own Site

Sites that use Google AdSense are not eligible to use the scheme, so if you want to make revenue from showing ads on your site you’ll need to consider another ad provider.

ad sense

One Domain

Your ads can only go to one domain if you use Google Grants. This means if you would normally set up micro sites on separate domains, you’ll need to rethink this strategy. For example http://www.macmillan.org.uk/ might have wanted to use a separate website such as www.macmillancoffeemorning.org.uk for their Coffee Morning fundraising campaign. If they were using the Google Grant scheme this wouldn’t be eligible to have ads within their Grants PPC account. They actually use a sub domain for the Coffee morning campaign (http://coffee.macmillan.org.uk/), so there would be no problem to send ads to this if they were using Google Grants.

Regular Optimisation

Not only will you want to optimise your account regularly to get the most out of your free ad spend, but you’ll actually have to login at least every month, and make a change to the account at least every 90 days, otherwise Google Grants may revoke your Grants Account or stop ads running.

Another benefit of regular and professional optimisation is that you could be eligible for another $30,000 per month with the Grantspro if your account is performing well. You’ll need to be achieving performance at the levels outlined below:

  • Conversion tracking in place and tracking a substantial conversion such as newsletter sign up
  • Have a CTR >1% in the last 6 months
  • Reach an ad spend in the current grant of at least $9,900 for at least two months out of the last six months
  • You must log-in and ‘manage’ the account at least twice a week

How Your Charity Could Use AdWords

Now you know about the grant, you’re probably wondering how you might use AdWords to benefit your charity. Here are a few ideas:

Brand Name Bidding

Bidding on your brand name is a great way of using your ad spend. It makes sure your ads appear above anyone else that might be bidding on your brand, and is particularly useful if you have a generic brand name that you may not rank first for organically.

Tests have shown that bidding on your brand name actually helps increase conversions too, even if your organic listing ranks first for your brand term.

Campaign Term Bidding

Imagine how many more donations ALS may have got if they’d been bidding on the term ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’.

ice bucket








You can use PPC to bid on any campaign slogans, names or tag lines that are relevant to your fundraising events or campaigns.

This additional visibility can help raise more money and keep awareness up when people are searching for information about it.

Macmillan quickly started bidding on Ice Bucket Challenge when the craze took off (rightly or wrongly), so imagine how many searchers then assumed they were the original charity behind this campaign? If ALS had been bidding on the term first they might have managed to get more donations and stay visible when their competitors started using the Ice Bucket Challenge as a fundraising idea too.

Generic Searches

There are probably loads of search terms that are relevant to your organisation that you don’t rank for organically and may not have considered the importance of.

For example, the term ‘Charity Volunteering’ has a substantial monthly search demand. Your organisation could be bidding on this term and landing users on a page where they can apply to volunteer for your charity. There’s also search demand for terms such as ‘corporate charity donations’ where companies might be looking for local charities to donate to.

If you ran PPC ads for these terms you could be increasing your donations and support greatly, by marketing your organisation to an audience who are already actively searching for things related to your organisation.

Get Started Today!

To apply for Google Grants click here. You may also want to join this Digital Marketing Community only for Digital Marketers Working in Non Profit Organisations for helpful advice and tips.

For more information, don’t hesitate to get in touch today.

Image from Bigstock.

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