Advertise for Free with Google Grants

Posted by on March 22, 2013

Advertise for Free with Google Grants
Are you a nonprofit organization that would like to get into the whole advertising thing, but don’t have the budget to do so? You’re not alone. There are are dozens of nonprofits out there whose causes go unrecognized simply because they don’t have the big advertising budgets that for profit corporations have. But did you know that Google runs a program called “Google Grants”, which allows non-profit organizations to advertise for free on their AdWords service? Through this service, Google grants these organizations up to $10,000 a month worth of free advertising, allowing nonprofits to take full advantage of their services without cutting into their budgets too severely.

The Grants program was created in 2003, but surprisingly few organizations actually know about it. Eligible parties include any 501(c)(3) organization, and once you’ve been accepted into the program you get up to $10,000 a month to spend on search ads. Google does run a “Grantspro” program, where certain eligible members of the Google Grants program can get up to $40,000 a month worth of credit, but they are not currently open for applications. Its not known at this time whether Google has plans to open it up again.

As far as the application process is concerned, its pretty easy. Previously, you could apply using your Employee Identification Number, but now Google requires that you register with “Google for Nonprofits” before applying to the Google Grants program. Approval time takes up to one month.

As mentioned earlier, there are a few restrictions for Google Grants participants, taken straight from their “Details” page:

  • A daily budget set to $330 USD, which is equivalent to about $10,000 per month
  • Only run keyword-targeted campaigns
  • Only appear on Google.com
  • Only run text ads
  • Run for as long as the organization remains actively engaged with their Grants AdWords account
  • As of January 28, 2013, Google Grantees may bid up to $2 USD on keywords. This is an increase from the previous CPC bid cap of $1 USD and may allow your ads to enter auctions previously unavailable at the $1 bid cap.
  • To balance the interests of businesses who pay to advertise on Google search, your ads will now appear below the ads of traditional AdWords advertisers.

Furthermore, there are requirements regarding your website and the keywords you use:

  • You must have a website and your ads must link to a page on your website.
  • The keywords that you target must be relevant to your program and services.
  • Your website cannot display revenue-generating ads, such as Google AdSense or affiliate advertising links, while participating in Google Grants.
  • The ongoing, active management of your advertising campaign is your organization’s responsibility once your account is active.

Finally, accounts made by participants must be active, or they are subject to cancellation by the Adwords team.

What you can do with it
There are a few ways a nonprofit organization can utilize AdWords either to focus on brand, drive participation and awareness in existing campaigns, or to collect data. Let’s take a closer look at each of the three.

Brand Focusing
Organizations can use Adwords to help further their brand through the use of PPC ads. However, the $2 maximum bid might pose a problem depending on the keywords you’re targeting. This is where good keyword research using the AdWords Keyword Tool comes in handy. If your average cost-per-click turns out to be lower than $2, then you’re set, but if its higher than $2, you’ll have to settle for a lower ranking on results pages, or if you have some cash to spare you could open a second Google AdWords account.

Accounts under the Google Grants program aren’t allowed to deposit any money into their accounts to pay for higher PPC ads, supposedly to make it easier for them to manage. By opening a second account and placing funds in it, you could then bid on keywords that are more than $2 without having to sacrifice the benefits of being part of the Google Grants program. This is something that Google explicitly allows, so don’t hesitate to take this option if you can afford it.

Increase Participation and Awareness
You can use the help Google Grants gives you to further your organization’s goals. Using the PPC ads will allow you to do more than just improve your brand. You can also raise awareness for your cause by driving traffic to educational pages, or you can drive them to a landing page that will solicit donations. You can also use PPC to attract people to fill jobs and openings within your organization.

Collecting Data
Lets say you have a few ideas on how to improve existing campaigns, but you don’t have the budget to actually try it, nor do you have the data to show management that can justify spending that money in the first place. You can use the budget Google Grants gives you to test out your ideas, allowing you to gather data and build a case for a bigger budget.

Conclusion
With more and more people turning to the internet for their information, these days, no organization can afford to stay offline. Understandably, building an online presence isn’t easy, but with the help of programs Google Grants, all organizations, big and small, have the chance to build and take advantage of a solid online presence.