Has your charity claimed its £8,000 of free online Google ads?
Does your charity or nonprofit advertise online for donations, fundraisers or volunteers? If you are currently paying to run digital ad campaigns and are not receiving the Google Ads Grant, then you are probably missing a trick.
Providing you are an eligible charity or nonprofit and can manage your free ads wisely, the Google Ad Grants programme will credit your account with $10,000 (approx. £8,000) of ad credit each month, leaving you or your marketing team to focus on creating the most compelling ad campaigns.
How easy is the Google Ad Grant application process?
The application process is pretty easy for most charities.
- Check you are eligible. For charities and nonprofits in England and Wales, this means you must be registered with the Charity Commission and/or registered with the tax office as tax exempt. You also need to get signed up to the TechSoup tt-exchange programme.
- Apply to join Google for Nonprofits.
- Once your application has been accepted, you can apply for the Google Ad Grants programme by submitting the eligibility form located in your Google for Nonprofits account. This takes around 20 minutes to complete.
Provided you are eligible, the whole process should be complete within 7 -10 days.
Is there a catch? Yes and No
Although Google's gesture is genuine (i.e. the ad credit is 100% free of charge), the company do expect you to put in the necessary effort to promote your cause; they are not just going to deposit £8,000 of advertising credit in your account and let it go to waste.
This means you should allocate some resources towards managing your Google Ads campaigns. You shouldn't have to spend too much time adjusting your campaigns to meet Google's conditions but if you take your eye off the ball you are likely to find your account closed.
One of the conditions you must meet is a 5% click-through rate (CTR). If your CTR falls beneath this floor over two consecutive months, Google will temporarily deactivate your account. This rule is applied at the account level so it is OK if some of your individual keywords underperform this metric.
You must also be using at least two active ad groups per campaign. These must connected to two unique text ads and make use of at least two different sitelink ad extensions.
You are also required to log in to your Google Ads account at least once a month.
Google are not out to punish nonprofits though. There is plenty of support available to help you meet these conditions and Google will reinstate your account once you pull your socks up!
Making the most of the deal
Most charities will naturally want to get the most out of their benefit. As with paid Google Ads, this means carefully selecting relevant keywords, writing a suitable advert and designing a high quality landing page for converting visits to donors or volunteer applications.
However, without a budget to worry about, you can afford to loosen up a little on your ROI. For example, you can be more generous with keyword matching and reduce the number of excluded keywords so that you can cast your net a bit wider.
You will want to hit as close to your maximum daily spend as possible because monthly funds do not roll over. Any unused funds will simply be topped back up to $10,000 at the beginning of the next month. Fortunately, since Google removed their Ad Grants cost-per-click (CPC) cap back in 2018, you are free to bid for even the most expensive keyword terms.
There are some restrictions on keyword choice though. For example, you are not allowed to bid on brand names (apart from your own), single non-branded words or overly generic keywords. It goes without saying that all standard Google Ads policies apply.
Can you manage your grant in-house?
Managing your Ad Grant can be time consuming and difficult. Smaller charities may find it particularly hard allocate sufficient staff time to manage the grant. As well as time concerns, not all teams have the skills in-house to craft succinct, persuasive text ads, and choose keywords and phrases to attract the right audiences?
When applying for a grant you should bear in mind that you will either need to up-skill a member of your team or hire a Google Ads professional to setup and manage your campaign.
If you go for the latter (the most realistic option in many cases) you'll need to ensure that that person/agency is delivering ROI. Make sure you have solid reporting setup so that you can track the revenue and other non-financial benefits generated from your ads. Ultimately you should be able to determine the cost of each acquisition both in ad spend and in ad management costs.
If you decide to go for the in-house option, be sure to factor in plenty of learning time for the member(s) of the team who will be managing the ads. As well as up-front learning, the ad manager should also keep reading up on the latest Google Ad changes and innovations. And never rule out calling in a pro to tune up your campaign.
At Eyes Down we do not manage Google Ads, but we work with plenty of charities who use the grant and we'd love to put you in touch.