How to receive & make the most of this free $10,000/month advertising grant from Google
Am I Eligible?
If you’ve never looked into the program before, this is probably the first question you will ask.
Ad Grants is one of the most widely available grants available for nonprofits and is unique in that if your organization is eligible and willing to complete everything Google requires, acceptance into the program is almost guaranteed.
Thus, there are two things to consider before pursuing this grant:
- Is my organization eligible? (Easy to answer!)
- Is this the right program for my organization right now? (Requires a little more thought)
To get a quick answer to both of these questions, take this short quiz.
If you are eligible and interested in pursuing the application, a quick search will show that there are many guides to how to apply to Google Ad Grants – this is one of them.
The application process takes 3-5 hours total, spaced over the course of about two weeks (for example, you will complete one step, then wait for Google to review & approve before moving to the next).
Best Practices to Get Your Campaign Started Right
Rather than spending more time on how to get into the program here, which is covered by the guide above, we want to help you succeed with your first campaigns.
Here is a list of steps to take, best practices to ensure you start your ad campaign on the right foot. The steps are not exhaustive, and in fact, will not explain every sub-step that you will need to take. However, they should give you a high-level overview of what to do as you get started.
1. Pick Audience
Pick the audience you want to target. Do you hope to be found by potential customers or clients who need your services, by volunteers, or to grow supporters/donors? There may be other categories to consider, as well.
For the purposes of giving examples in this article, we will assume you hope to find new supporters of your organization by growing your email subscriber list.
2. Determine Goal
Determine what your goal for this audience is: is it for them to become subscribers (leads), customers, clients, etc? Whatever your ultimate goal is, find the smallest step this audience can take toward that goal, and set that as the first goal to achieve.
Here are some examples:
- If you want to grow your donor base, your first goal won’t be to get them to donate but to discover your mission, see/hear/read stories about donor impact, and get them interested in learning more. Ideally, you have (or can create) a resource that they can access by subscribing, or you can get them to subscribe to hear more impact stories after they’ve seen some. (Alternatively, you can encourage them to volunteer, donate, and more, but new visitors are more likely going to take smaller steps.)
- If you are running a campaign to increase supporters, donations, or in preparation for an online fundraiser, your goal for the campaign should probably be email subscribers. This is because (naturally) you want to continue reaching these people even after they’ve visited your site for the first time. If they felt your story, mission, or resource was compelling enough to subscribe, you can now use inexpensive email marketing to continue sharing your story and building a relationship with them.
- If you want to help clients find the services you offer, you can either direct them straight to digital resources you provide to download (i.e. becoming leads), encourage them to come to an event, or encourage them to make an appointment.
3. Start Research
Do keyword research and focus on:
- Keywords this target audience will be searching for related to your organization
- Keywords related to your first goal
- Keywords that your (top) competitors are already targeting (use a tool like Spyfu, SEMRush)
The more relevant your goals are for the top keywords you found during the research, the better. If your keyword research revealed that very few people are searching for keywords related to your goal or that your audience would search for related to your mission, you may need to re-think who you wish to target or your goals.
4. Choose Page
Once you’ve found the keywords with the most search volume related to your audience and goals, you need to pick the right page on your site, or build a specific landing page, that leads the visitor toward the goal you chose in step #2. If you already have such pages on your site, you merely need to note them now. If these pages are not yet built, or if you need to create digital resources or put together more stories to get new visitors excited about your mission, you need to take the time to do that now.
5. Add Keywords
Start by adding 100-200 of the keywords that you researched to your first campaign. Continue adding at least that many each month, until you are using a lot more (or all) of the Grant available to you. Remember that for Grants accounts, you cannot target single words (a keyword you select much consist of two or more words).
Group these keywords by theme, in very small ad groups – no more than 3-4 keywords (/phrases) each.
7. Write Ads
You will end up with many ad groups this way, but each ad group should have a unique 1st ad headline that matches those keywords as closely as possible – this helps increase how relevant your ad is to the keyword(s) the user searched.
However, so you don’t have to write dozens of unique ads, and to quickly test your ad copy, a good strategy is to only use two headline #2 variants and two descriptions for all the ad groups across the campaign. Here is an example:
Ad Group A:
Headline 1 (matching keywords): Stories of Helping African Kids
Headline 2 (general): Extra Shoes? Put Them to Use
Headline 3 (general): 1 Amazing Way You Can Help
Description 1 (general): If you have too much stuff, you can help those who don’t have enough. Watch these stories!
Description 2 (general): See stories of a program that’s helping people worldwide while reducing junk in landfills!
Ad Group B:
Headline 1 (matching keywords): Provide Shoes to Kids Without
For the rest of this ad, you would use Headline 2, 3, and Descriptions 1 and 2 from the top ad.
8. Ad Settings
After you have written your ads, make sure your location targeting is correct in your campaign settings (i.e. city, region, nation?), and use the campaign bidding strategy Maximize Clicks or Manual CPC (set to $2, which is the maximum). At the same time, create an Experiment to test this same campaign but with the Maximize Conversions strategy. This allows Google to test both bidding strategies to see which is the winner.
Since you’re testing the bidding strategy clicks vs. conversions, for now you need to define a “conversion” the same as a click – i.e. a simple page view/landing page visit. A true conversion for your campaign will be the first goal that you set in step #2 above (someone fills out a form, makes an appointment, completes a purchase, calls your organization, etc).
Instead of defining conversions the way you ultimately want to, your goal for now is to find out which bidding strategy will be most effective, so set up conversions to be merely getting people to your website (or landing page).
Once the Experiment has run a few days, you’ll discover the winning bid strategy: turn off the bidding strategy that’s losing and keep running the strategy that’s performing better. I encourage you to set up new Experiments to test out new strategies this way.
9. Refining Results
Once you’re starting to get more traffic, you can slowly change what you measure as a conversion from visits, to people who stay on the site longer than a certain amount of time (for example, 7-10 seconds), to interacting with a form or certain buttons on the site, to finally completing a form, phone call, purchase (whatever your first goal is).
10. Follow up
At this point, you will move to a different channel – likely email – to continue building a relationship with these new subscribers/clients, etc. There are many guides out there on how to use email effectively to tell your story ask for donations, and this article is not one of them!
Nevertheless, this last step hopefully gives you context for how Ad Grants can bring relevant visitors to your site so that you can start introducing them to your organization.
If you determine your nonprofit is eligible for Ad Grants, and it looks like this program could help, start applying as soon as you can. If you have questions or just need a few pointers, feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com, and we will be happy to do what we can to help!
Chris Barlow is the father of 6 kids, is trying to raise them bilingual with his German wife, and is the Director of Beeline, a marketing firm focused exclusively on helping nonprofits further their mission and grow their supporter base through Google Ads.