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Written by Sam Yadegar on Jul 21 , 2020

How Google is helping nonprofits spread the word about their cause

Here, you’ll find:

  • How paid search marketing helps nonprofits
  • How Google Ad Grants works
  • Effective strategies for managing your campaigns
  • Expert PPC tools and tips to help you along the way

Nonprofit organizations make the world go round. These groups spend time, resources and money to further important causes and help those in need. But the most successful nonprofits know it’s equally important to invest in marketing to spread the word about their own organization to increase awareness and grow their donor base. 

When it comes to marketing, paid search (also called pay-per-click or PPC) is one of the most effective tactics used today. By following paid search best practices, having strong SEO, and leveraging an ad tool called Google Ad Grants, nonprofits can position their campaigns for maximum conversion. 

How paid search marketing benefits nonprofits

Many nonprofits limit their digital marketing strategy to just maintaining their website. Some also post organically on social media and send out regular newsletters. And sure, these tactics can be effective for engaging donors, showcasing your mission and cause, and running your campaigns. But without more of a digital presence, it’s difficult to expand your organization beyond those who already know about you. 

That’s where paid search comes in. These campaigns can do wonders to increase your donor base and spread your vision to a wider audience. Nonprofit paid search is the digital marketing tool that can take your organization to the next level. 

hawksem blog: nonprofit paid search

When Google approves your nonprofit, your nonprofit’s Google Ads account is allowed to spend up to $10,000 per month. (Image via Unsplash)

Making nonprofit paid search more affordable

We get it: Nonprofits have to be especially mindful when it comes to the cost of paid search ads. Luckily, a tool called Google Ad Grants can help. 

This tool allows eligible nonprofit organizations to spend $10,000 per month to advertise on Google’s search engine at no cost to the organization. Yes, you read that right: Google could give you a free $10,000 to spend on Google ads each month!

How it works

When Google approves your nonprofit, your nonprofit’s Google Ads account is allowed to spend up to $10,000 per month. The maximum cost per click (CPC) is set at $2. 

Once you hit your $10,000 advertisement limit, your ads automatically stop until the end of the month. The ads automatically continue to run again when the next cycle begins. This way, there’s no need to worry about going over your monthly cap and spending extra budget.

How to qualify for Google Ad Grants

Google’s acceptance for nonprofits depends on meeting the following criteria:

  • Must be a valid 501(c) nonprofit
  • Needs to have a functional website with enough quality content that clearly illustrates the nonprofit’s mission and purpose
  • Must be headquartered in the U.S. or anyone of Google’s eligible countries

The biggest hurdle to being awarded a Google Grant is the application process. It includes a writing section where you must specify how you will use the grant, the ads you intend to create, and why your nonprofit deserves the grant money.

The application process is no easy feat — it can take four to six hours to complete. And, of course, not all applications will be accepted. If rejected, you may have to wait months before you’re eligible to reapply.

Maintaining your Google Grant

If your application is accepted, you must maintain the following criteria to keep it:

  • Link your ads to only one website
  • Avoid linking pages where the majority of hyperlinks are to other websites
  • Must log in at least once per month
  • Must update ads at least once every 90 days
  • Only promote events, products, or services where 100% of the proceeds are going directly towards your cause
hawksem: nonprofit paid search blog

What makes Google Ad Grants particularly useful is its ability to set locations, keywords, and demographics to help you reach the exact audience that resonates most with your cause. (Image via Unsplash)

How Google Ad Grants can boost your paid search efforts

A large network user base

Google currently holds nearly 92% of the internet search engine market share worldwide. This makes it the most influential marketing and advertising platform on the planet. Google’s incredibly large user network base can spread your cause quickly, leading to up to 5,000 new monthly visitors to your website for free.

The ability to connect you with your target audience

With all those monthly users and activity, Google also has an incredibly diverse audience. What makes Google Ad Grants particularly useful is its ability to set locations, keywords, and demographics to help you reach the exact audience that resonates most with your cause.

An increase in your online visibility

If your nonprofit is relatively new or not ranking from keywords relevant to your cause, Google Ad Grants helps your organization get closer to the top of keyword search results. Being placed at the top of Google search results increases organic traffic and awareness for your cause. 

Even if your nonprofit is already ranking well in search queries, Google search ads allow you to show up multiple times on a page, which maximizes the chance a casual visitor clicks to your website.

How to manage your Google Grant

Although it’s possible to manage your Google Grant on your own, it requires a decent amount of time and dedication to have a noticeable impact on your nonprofit.

Once approved, it’s up to you or your team to take time crafting compelling and optimized content targeted to your specific audience and demographic. Likewise, Google Ad Grants holds high standards for its advertisement content. For example, all nonprofits must have a clickthrough rate of at least 1% to continue qualifying for the grant.

The takeaway

There’s no doubt that Google Ad Grants is an incredible nonprofit paid search platform. While the barrier to entry isn’t exactly low, the potential payoff means it could be worth exploring if your nonprofit meets the criteria and has the resources to maintain strong paid search campaigns.

Need more help with your nonprofit’s paid search strategies? Let’s talk. 

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

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