As you’re refreshing your nonprofit’s marketing strategy for the coming year, don’t forget about Google Ad Grants. (In case you haven’t heard, it offers eligible nonprofits a $10,000 monthly budget for Google Ads.) This free ad money is a pretty sweet deal for nonprofits using their 2020 marketing plan to expand an audience and aim for bigger goals.

Don’t already have an account? You’ll need to apply for Google for Nonprofits before you can set up your account and weave it into your marketing strategy.

Like any good nonprofit marketer, you know that strategy is the key to success. But how can you use all of this grant money to run ads that get your name out there and actually move your mission forward?

Google Ad Grant Strategy

Let’s walk through some of the key ways a Google Ad Grant can play into your nonprofit’s marketing plan. While some organizations might choose to create a whole strategy just for their ad grant, it can also be woven in fairly easily with the overall marketing strategy that you already have.

It’s likely that your strategy is broken up by big picture goals that your organization is working toward. To work Google Ads into your strategy, add this channel into your current plans for relevant goals.

Do Google Ads belong in the strategy?

These ads run on Google’s search engine, so your target audience will most often be people who are unfamiliar with your organization and searching for keywords related to it. Because of that, it’s not a great fit for goals related to retaining current supporters, clients or members.

Answer these questions before you decide to add Google Ads to your strategy for a specific goal:

  • Does the goal focus on expanding our current audience? Google Ads are not the best channel to reach your current supporters, who already know how to find you online.
  • Are people searching for terms related to this goal? There’s a good chance that people are searching for a “5k race” but probably not “annual fundraiser.” Use the Google Ads Keyword Planner to find out.
  • Are there key actions for visitors to take on your website? This should go beyond just online donations. Google Ads are great for driving actions focused on a real interest in your cause like email newsletter sign-ups, content downloads, event registrations and volunteer interest.
  • Do we have a good landing page on the website to send searchers to once they click on the ad? If not, this will need to come first in your strategy before you’re able to run the ad.
  • How long will the ads run? Short campaigns, less than a week or so, are not the best fit for these ads.
  • Can your team devote the necessary time to set up and manage new ads? We recommend spending about 10 hours a month in Google Ads. Consider capacity alongside any new strategy pieces.

Google Ads Can Help Reach Goals

Search ads are an awesome fit for goals that rely on attracting new folks to expand your current audience. If your nonprofit shares one of these common goals, ads may just help move it forward. 

Spread Awareness

This goal is where Google Ads shines. Within your marketing plan, be sure to mention your Ad Grant as an ideal channel to move this goal forward. You’ll be able to attract new visitors to your website at the exact moment they look (search) for you or a topic related to your cause.

It’s then up to the content on your landing page to convince potential supporters to stick around. Provide a key next step on the landing page, like downloading a resource or becoming an advocate.

Boost Volunteers

You can run ads for your whole volunteer program or even for specific volunteer opportunities that community members may be interested in. Create an ad group for volunteers to catch all those searching for new opportunities in your community. Bonus points if they can show their interest or sign up for an opportunity right on your site!

Membership Goals

Does your nonprofit offer a membership? Attract new members through Google Ads. Create a new ad group focused on highlighting the benefits of membership for those that would be a good fit, including keywords and ad text to reflect that.

Remember the landing page is where the magic happens! Send traffic to a page that highlights the benefits of membership, testimonials from members and a form to sign up.

Increase Donations

This goal can get tricky when it comes to search ads. It’s not an out-of-the-question inclusion to move this goal forward, but you’ll want to be especially strategic with the keywords and ads. For example, very few people search for “nonprofit donation” and choose to give to an organization based on that search. Keywords like “how to support [your cause]” or “give to [your organization]” are a much better bet.

Rather than using ads to specifically ask for donations, catching potential donors through search terms around your causes and then convincing them to give once they’re on your website is a much more common route. Google Ads can play a complementary role to your online fundraising plan, but, again, I would not put all of your eggs in this basket.

Individual Campaign Strategies

Have any campaigns in your marketing strategy? Whether it’s an annual gala, year-end fundraising or awareness campaign, it’s possible that Google Ads could play a role. Create an ad group to run during the campaign and make sure to pause that ad group at the end of the campaign.

It’s important to keep in mind that Google Ads might not be the best fit for every campaign you run. Before you add it to the strategy, be sure to run through the questions above.

Getting Granular With Strategy

While some nonprofit marketers can leave that “Use Google Ad Grant” bullet point under the goal and call it a day, others need a strategy with a little more direction. Sometimes, you’ll be creating a new ad group or adding on to or adjusting an ad group that already exists. You’ll want to specify this in your plan.

You might also mention things like:

  • Which campaign the ad group should be a part of
  • The goal of each new ad group or update
  • Potential keywords or ad text to use
  • The landing page ads should lead to
  • Notes on timing
  • Any additional work that needs to happen (like creating the landing page or conducting keyword research)

Google Ad Grants are a great tool for any nonprofit marketer, but only when they’re used strategically. I’ve seen my fair share of ads accounts without a plan, and both the results and ad management suffers.

The goal should not be to spend all of the money, but rather to spend it wisely to reach your organization’s goals. Working Google Ad Grants into your strategy ensures that the grant is going toward key goals and making the biggest possible impact.

Ready to update your nonprofit marketing strategy to include Google Ad Grants? Have questions about a goal or audience you’re hoping to reach? Want to chat Ad Grants strategy? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.