The truth is that most NFP's do not even know that Google even offer this. Okay, I’ll be straight with you... it’s not as simple as I’ve made it sound, but the principle is fundamentally the same.
The fact is that Google does indeed offer many non-profits an in-kind grant of potentially up to $10,000 every month, for use on their Google AdWords service. Of course, there are certain criteria that have to be met, such as applicants cannot be governmental entities or organisations, hospitals or medical groups, schools, childcare centres, academic institutions or universities (though philanthropic arms of educational organisations are eligible). However, millions of charities across the world do qualify, so until they apply they’ll never know! Then, if successful, there are certain other limitations, such as a maximum keyword or phrase bid limit of $2 and daily budget limits of $329. But hey, let’s not look gift horses in the mouth!
OK… time for some perspective on all of this. It is estimated that there are, on average, 3 billion searches every single day on Google. So whilst there may be certain restrictions on your Google sponsored campaigns, that’s still a huge amount of free and currently missed opportunities. And those 'opportunities' mean greater visibility for your organisation and many more new visitors to your website - estimates currently being offered by Google are, on average, between 10,000 and 40,000 additional visits!
This is something that charities such as UNICEF, Festivals House, Fighting Blindness and others are already successfully reaping benefit from. Not only are they raising awareness, they also reaching out to a world of new members, supporters, donors and volunteers.
What are Google AdWords and Google Grants?
Every day we all use Google to search for all manner of material, so much so that most of us now actually use the proper noun “Google” as a verb! Want to find out how to tie a bow tie? Google it. Or perhaps you want to find out where your nearest hairdresser is? You guessed it… Google it.
As you’ve “Googled”, no doubt you’ve also see the ads that sit neatly beside, above and below your search results. Put simply, these are adverts that are placed and paid for by the advertiser through the Google AdWords program. Every time a user clicks on them, they pay a fee – so no click, no charge to the advertiser; hence its name “pay-per-click advertising”.
When you do a search Google matches your search words and phrases to those bid for by the various advertisers. So, for example, if you search for information about a specific car brand, don’t be surprised to see relevant ads from those trying to sell you that brand of car, or services related to it. Those advertisers, in effect, bid for clicks from you on their ads in an effort to compete equally with the organic listings on searches you make every day within Google. Then, depending on how much each advertiser is prepared to spend for your click, as well as their ads’ and linked-through pages’ relevance to your search phrase, Google ranks each ad higher or lower in your search listing. Click bidding can range from a few pence (or cents) for low-demand phrases such as “IT Jobs on the Isle of Man”, to several pounds or dollars for more popular search terms, like “Cheap Flights”.
Time to introduce Google Grants. As I've already mentioned, Google Grants gives qualifying charitable status organisations the opportunity to become, free of charge, the advertisers. How? Through an in-kind grant offered by Google, with a value of up to $10,000 (approx. £6,000) per month. Quite some gesture I’m sure you’ll agree. And when coupled up to Google Analytics, you have at your disposal a free and yet powerful toolset to effectively promote, monitor and enhance your not-for-profit or charity’s website and associated supporter programs.
Getting the most from Google Grants
Organisations that, upon successful application, get the chance to take advantage of the Google Grants program, then have a three-way choice on how they wish to manage their account. Some choose to manage themselves using existing in-house resources, whilst others will specifically employ a dedicated PPC (pay-per-click) specialist. Many, on the other hand, choose to outsource their PPC programs to an experienced third-party or digital house. Needless to say that all of these options have their advantages and disadvantages, which will all be primarily based around the organisation's available resource, experience, cost and program objectives.
Whilst resources and experience are generally things that are black and white - i.e. your organisation either has available or not - the case for knowing or defining your program objectives and associating an overall cost to them are, in many cases but not always, a little more ambiguous. This cocktail of uncertainty typically drives many organisations to put their faith in third-party expertise. That way they can ensure that they get the best possible return, with minimal risk and the ultimate reassurance of third-party accountability.
Outsourcing your PPC Google Grant application and management
There are many digital marketing companies that provide pay-per-click marketing expertise. Yet, surprisingly, there are also many who are still unaware that the Google Grants program even exists! Those that do should be able to guide you through the process of application, advise you about whether or not you will meet the prerequisites set by Google, and even complete the application for you without charge. Why? Well, they will, of course, want the opportunity to manage your account longer term. So whilst the application should be free, understand that they will probably want some form of ongoing commitment should the application be successful. That commitment will be probably something like a definitive obligation to manage your Google Grant funded PPC program for, typically, an initial year’s contract.
You, as their potential client, should therefore seek initial reassurances for a return on your investment. If you’re paying a monthly fee for the management of your account, you need to be sure that your chosen vendor will use your grant to provide what you consider to be an acceptable fiscal return – be that through donationor legacy value, a membership increase, or some other metric. Any PPC agency worth its salt should be able to clearly demonstrate, track and deliver this! Furthermore, they should be able to provide you with monthly reports detailing their progress.
Finally, it of course helps if your chosen vendor has a solid background and experience with not-for-profits. After all, given the nature of the whole Google Grants in-kind initiative, you’d want to at least know that they know how to communicate and successfully instil a conviction and final action from those wanting to potentially associate themselves with your charity, membership or nonprofit.
Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising and Google Grants are both covered in more detail in our latest NetXtra Insights podcast - Podcast No. 3 - Pay Per Click Marketing and Google Grants, and is available to download from the Apple iTunes Store and Stitcher.
If you'd like to find out more about how NetXtra can help your organisation with its digital strategy, why not call us on 01787 319393, or send us a message via our Contact page.