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Google is just alright with me

Resource-limited nonprofits take heed, for Google hath bestowed a gift unto thee: the good of their advertising network… for free. The program is called Google Grants, and it provides nonprofits with thousands of dollars of free advertising each month.

Nowadays, people often head online to make a donation. This certainly holds true in international crisis situations, like the earthquake in Nepal or the Ebola outbreak that continues in West Africa. However, this is also true for local charities. Which means even smaller, targeted nonprofits, like animal shelters or food banks, need to have a strong web (and mobile!) presence, including search engine marketing.

This is where Google Grants steps in.

Founded in 2003 as an internal initiative to expand their ad program to registered nonprofits, Google Grants has been steadily expanding services across the globe (though not quite as far off the beaten path as their Google Earth). Now you can set up and manage campaigns within Adwords without paying for them. In fact, the monthly budget per nonprofit is $10,000, an incredibly generous amount for most businesses, much less a cash-strapped nonprofit.

Not quite enough? Google Grantspro, which is officially open after several rounds of testing, provides nonprofits with $40,000 per month as opposed to Google Grants’ $10,000.

To be eligible for Grantspro you need to:

  • Set up conversion tracking- Note that you don’t need a ton of conversions, but this capability does have to be in place.

  • Spend the money they’ve been giving you — must use at least $9,900 in two of last six months.

  • Achieve a higher than 1% CTR.

  • Be in good standing and follow their rules.

  • Check in actively on the account.

  • Complete a survey at the end of the year.

If this all seems too good to be true, pay attention to the limitations — ads will not appear higher than paid ads due to the $2.00 maximum CPC, you can only create text ads, and they will only show on Google searches, as opposed to the extensive display network. Additionally, you’re ineligible for Ad Grants if you are a government, health care or hospital, or school agency.

Given all these restrictions, the challenge with the Google Grant is how to use it for fundraising. It’s doing a great job driving traffic to websites and newsletter subscriptions, but leveraging these interactions into donations is a challenge. In this way, perhaps Grants is better suited for cultivating prospective donors instead of direct donations (as it essentially states in the rules and regulations of their service).

So yes, while these programs may ultimately just be a PR opportunity for Google, remember it is still free advertising your nonprofit can use. Whether it be driving traffic, gaining subscriptions, or angling for donations, it can help your nonprofit in a changing donor landscape.

Google saw all that it had made and, behold, it was good.

Source: Google for Nonprofits Blog

Laura Hamm

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Laura Hamm

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