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a guide to Google AdWords grants

Get your charity advertising for free on Google with our simple guide to Google AdWords grant accounts, written by our friends at UpriseUp

the basics of Google ad grants for charities

Search engine marketing is often considered the holy grail of advertising, as it only targets users actively looking for a particular product or service – and only at the time they are looking for that product or service. It therefore enhances user experience, rather than being seen as a nuisance as with more traditional advertising.

Google is by far the most dominant search provider, with 93% of the market share worldwide. The good news is that Google offers ongoing AdWords grants for charities and not-for-profits of $10,000 per month (or $329 per day). This amounts to a sizeable £7,500 in pounds sterling each month to be spent on Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising. The grant is available to any registered charity that fits Google’s rather wide selection criteria, regardless of size.

Google PPC ads (whether paid for by a grant or not) appear on Google search engine results pages at the top and bottom of the normal (organic) listings:

Google Ad Words charity grants

Put simply, the benefit of such advertising is huge, enabling charities to promote themselves quickly and easily to targeted searchers – from potential donors to campaigners, and job applicants to volunteers.

getting started

The Google Ad Grants grant is open to registered charities in many countries, including the UK. Google reserves the right to turn charities down for any reason, including the organisation’s politics, and does not accept hospitals, health care providers or schools. However, the vast majority of charities are accepted.

In order to access the Google Ad Grants, you need to:

  • Join Google for Non-Profits – this includes either registering with TechSoup (who verify your charitable status for Google) or providing a ‘verification token’ if already registered with TechSoup
  • Await your Google for Non-Profits verification email
  • Sign into Google for Non-Profits and enrol in Google Ad Grants

From there, you’ll need to decide what you want to advertise and set up relevant ads, bids and keywords.

how to make great charity PPC advertising campaigns

The key is to look at what your charity and does and work out what people may be searching for that is the same or similar. Here are some ideas for what you could promote:

  • Details of your services and information: this includes your charitable work, online resources, and any other information or services you provide. For example, World Cancer Research Fund has an interactive Cancer Health Check tool, Streetwise Opera offers regular singing workshops for homeless people, and The Fostering Network has lots of information about how to become a foster carer.
  • Information about your beneficiaries and how you support them: this is also very important for certain charities, especially where appeals or issues are being reported in the media. For example, our client Care International regularly responds to crises around the world, meaning that people researching a particular country’s crisis online could be potentially valuable supporters/donors for the charity.
  • Volunteering opportunities: whether you need people to assist with a particular project/event or have ongoing opportunities to fill, advertising for volunteers (with ads targeting your location and the specific roles available) can be very effective.
  • Upcoming events: with the $2 maximum bid, it’s hard to promote more popular events (such as the London Marathon), but campaigns around more unusual fundraising or awareness-raising events such as a mountain walk in Snowdonia or local toddler activities are often able to generate interest.
  • Donation opportunities: by aiming at niche search terms, you may be able to attract people who want to make a charitable donation. Try to be as specific as possible with your keywords – for example, try ‘donate to a child autism charity’ ‘make child charity donation’.
  • Advocacy and campaigning: if there’s a story in the media about an issue you’re addressing, or you’ll lobbying Government to make changes, campaigns targeting people searching around these issues can help raise awareness of and garner support for your work.

developing your Google AdWords grant account

Whether and how high up your ad is shown on Google’s search results page is decided by how well your organisation scores when compared with other advertisers who want to appear in the same spot. The score that Google compares uses the following (simplified) formula:

Bid amount x Quality Score

As the maximum bid amount is limited to $2 for grant accounts, your Quality Score (QS) is of key importance. The exact method by which Google calculates QS is top secret, however it’s Google’s way of determining the relevancy of your web page to a user’s query.

Important factors for determining QS include:

  • Click Through Rate (CTR), which is how many times your ad is clicked on once seen – charities need to be achieving at least 5% on this
  • Whether the language in the ad matches the keywords and search query
  • Whether your charity’s destination/landing page also matches the keywords and search query
  • The account history ie. how relevant an organisation’s ads have been over time

Google has been incredibly successful as a search engine because it ensures that it provides the most relevant information to users. Therefore, the most important tip we can give is for you to be as obsessed by detail as Google.

Ad text needs to answer a user’s query directly and demonstrate that your website is what they are looking for. If people either don’t click on your ads or are clicking and then turning away, this will have repercussions on your account history and thus your QS.

Keywords need to be carefully selected in Google AdWords to ensure that all possible search options relevant to your page are covered. You should also block negative/irrelevant keywords that could result in irrelevant clicks. For example, a mental health charity working only with children might introduce the word ‘adult’ as a negative match keyword to filter out people only interested in adult mental health.

Importantly, make sure to keep monitoring your account and checking progress. For each group of keywords, test two or three ads at a time and collect data on their performance. Then stop any poorly performing ads and trial either variants on the successful ads or completely new ads. Keywords need to be monitored too; keywords performing poorly with either a low QS or CTR should be stopped. By doing this ongoing optimisation, you will accrue positive account history which benefits the performance of all your campaigns.

For more assistance with Google Ad grants, promoting your charity online or maximising your website performance, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.