Are you a nonprofit looking for ways to maximize your advertising budget while earning a free nonprofit grant? Or perhaps you’re struggling to find success in the online marketplace with limited resources. Let me introduce you to the magical opportunity of Google AdWords advertising through Google Grants and Google Grantspro.
What Is Google Grants & How Do You Get It?
Google Ad Grants is a program offered through Google that, if you meet its qualifications (i.e. hold valid charity status in your country), allows your organization to receive $10,000 in free AdWords advertising every month — that’s $120,000 annually.
Don’t have an Ad Grants account set up yet? See if you’re eligible.
Keep in mind that once you establish your AdWords Ad Grants account, you need to continue to meet certain specifications in order to keep it.
Google Grantspro Status
What is even better than $10,000 a month in free advertising? How about $40,000 a month?! By meeting specific criteria, you can upgrade your monthly advertising budget four times over with Grantspro. Here are some of the main requirements from Google, which are more advanced than regular Ad Grants:
- Setup conversion tracking and successfully track at least one conversion
- Spend $9,900 USD or more per month for at least two months in a six-month period
- Note: Keep in mind that is your entire monthly budget, except for $100
- Average click-through rate of 1% or higher over the past six months
- Abide by all program policies and guidelines
- Actively manage your account (internally or through a third party, such as an agency) at least bi-weekly
- Note: This means making beneficial, strategic changes in the account, not just a small budget reallocation or bid adjustment and calling it a day
- Submit the extensive online application on how you will use the additional advertising budget
- Complete annual survey and agree to share impact/conversion data
You Want the Free Nonprofit Advertising, But…
I am sure you want to go to your boss and say that you can get your organization $40,000 a month in free advertising on Google AdWords (I know I would). However, it is not as simple as knocking bullet points off a checklist. While the prospect of free advertising dollars is an opportunity you should still take advantage of, recent changes made by Google, the increasingly competitive paid search landscape of AdWords and existing limitations for Google Ad Grants accounts mean getting the utmost amount is an uphill battle. While that is challenging, it is also worth the fight.
New & Existing Challenges
Google SERP Ad Layout Changes
In February 2016, Google confirmed a major change to ad layout on search engine result pages (SERPs) – instead of three ads shown on desktop above organic search results, there would be four. Additionally, all right-hand-side ads were removed. This change has meant:
- Less impressions and ad positions overall, as right-side ad positions no longer exist
- Organizations need to be committed to improving ad position since right-side ads are gone and past bottom-of-the-page ads likely show less or have dropped off altogether due to competition
- Same (or more) competition with less available ad space, which can drive up costs
- Potentially higher average cost-per-click (CPC)
Our VP recently went over these changes in detail, specifically for how they are affecting non-profits. I encourage you to read that article to get more insight into the severity of the aforementioned challenges that have arisen due to the recent SERP changes.
Existing Bid Limitations
With a Google Grant/Grantspro account, keyword bids are limited to $2 or less. While this may be fine for certain keywords, it will likely cause issues for others. Your overall impression share will likely be less since you won’t be able to bid as competitively and will, in turn, limit potential clicks. The recent SERP changes also put a greater strain on these bid limitations, as the reduced number of ad positions means more competition and the potential for a continued increase in overall costs.
Marketing Mojo Google Grant clients have seen an average cost-per-click increase of 12% YTD and average impression decline of 27%. Branded terms aren’t much better. For the first time ever, we have started to see “Below first page bid estimate” notices for our clients that can only bid $2 – and that’s on brand name terms! While none of these changes are ideal, there are strategies and management techniques you can employ to help combat bid limitations and rising CPCs, including bid management, bid modifiers, ad scheduling, etc.
*Note: if we’re lucky, Google will decide to raise the bid limitation or remove it all together in order to help out 501(c)(3) organizations. However, there is no word on that happening.
Time, Resources & Strategy Challenges
Dedicated Team Member (or Third Party)
- In order to reach the $9,900 spend requirement, a member of your team (or an outside party you hire) needs to devote a significant amount of time to building out relevant campaigns. A wide variety and depth of campaigns is likely needed to reach the spend threshold due to the aforementioned bid limitations, SERP changes and regular challenge of spending more than $9,900 in one month
- Note: That’s $333.33 a day, and you can’t spend $600 tomorrow to make up for your $150 spend today
- You need to be sure someone is logging in monthly and making a strategic change to your account at least once a quarter. If you aren’t already meeting this requirement, you are not only ineligible for Grantspro, but you could lose your $10,000
- After you achieve Grantspro status, someone needs to login and make changes on a bi-weekly basis. Have this figured out upfront, so that you don’t put in the time and work to get Grantspro just to have it taken away because you don’t meet this one requirement
You’ve built out your account with relevant keywords and are reaching your max budget every day, but your click-through rate is well below the required 1%. How are you going to increase that metric? Is your dedicated team member prepared to devote time to ad-copy testing, developing new sitelink extensions and applying other optimization strategies? They’ll have to be; otherwise, the $40,000 will be unattainable.
Slowly but surely we’ve worked one of our client’s click-through rate up to 4.59% – but as you can see, it took quite a while to reach that milestone (and we’re still working to make it even better). Keep in mind that not only will you meet the 1% requirement for Grantspro, but the better CTR you have, the more clicks you’re getting per total impressions, and the better it is for the success of your organization’s paid search advertising, website traffic and bottom line.
You’re Going to Go For It, Right?
I know the last few sections of this post have been doom and gloom. But it is still $40,000 in free AdWords advertising available to your organization that would be indispensable to the cause your organization is supporting, increasing awareness of or working to end. One of our clients has seen an average revenue increase of 27% from their Grantspro account over the last five years by taking advantage of this free nonprofit grant opportunity. Think about all the good you could do with those extra donations and product/service purchases!
So what are you waiting for? Get going! Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter or below with questions, and the Mojo team is also available to help you get those extra advertising dollars if you need us.
How Other Nonprofits Have Made the Most of Free AdWords Advertising
Want to get fired up by others who achieved Grantspro status or made the most of their free nonprofit grant money? Explore our success stories.
- GuideStar sees increase of 40,000 paid search visits
- No Kid Hungry increases paid search traffic by 73%
- Nonprofit increases donations by 500% with Google Grant
Author’s Update: Google recently updated their Grantspro Overview & Eligibility page to state that the Ad Grants team is no longer accepting Grantspro applications . This has happened in the past, with the submission of Grantspro applications eventually being reopened. There have been reports that the change is due to streamlining the process, as well as a potential backlog of applications. Ad Grants free advertising at the $10,000 per month level is still available for qualifying organizations.