Introduction To AdWords And Google Grants


RICHARD TALBOT Head of Paid Search

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Everyone has heard of AdWords, Google’s online advertising system. But not so many people have heard of Google Grants and the benefits it provides to registered charities. If you are one of them and struggling to find online advertising budget, make sure to keep reading…

What is Google Grants?

Google Grants is Google AdWords for charities. It allows eligible and registered non-profit organisations to advertise on AdWords for free. If your charity is eligible for this, it means you could spend up to $10,000 a month in AdWords advertising without having to pay anything. It would be stupid not to take advantage of this as it would definitely help you reach more users, raise awareness, get more visibility, donations and volunteers.

Eligibility requirements

Of course Google is not going to give $10,000 a month to any organisation out there for their AdWords campaign, and in order to be eligible for this program you need to respect a few conditions:

  • You need to be registered as an official charity. In Ireland it means your organisation must be registered with ENCLUDEit, TechSoup Global’s regional arm. You also need to be registered with the Charities Regulator Authority (CRA), hold Sports and Games Tax Exemption from the Office of the Revenue Commissioners, or be a company limited by guarantee or other organisation operating on a non-profit basis for the public benefit.
  • The following organisations are unfortunately not eligible: government entities, hospitals and healthcare groups, schools, childcare centres and academic institutions and universities.
  • You must have a live website with substantial content.
  • You must acknowledge and agree to Google’s required certifications regarding non-discrimination and donation receipt and use.
  • Commercial advertising is prohibited. If you are selling products, 100% of the revenue must go to the charity.

Program limits

You also need to respect the following rules related to advertising on AdWords:

  • Your AdWords account is denominated in USD regardless of your operating currency
  • You can spend $329 maximum a day in AdWords.
  • Your max CPC bid can’t be higher than $2.
  • You can only advertise on the search network (excluding search partners). This means you can only set up keyword targeted campaigns with text ads. Image or video ads are not allowed with Google Grants. If you want to set up remarketing or display campaigns, you will need to create a separate AdWords account and of course you will need to pay for this extra advertising spend. However be aware that if you use the same keywords in 2 different accounts, there is a risk your campaigns might compete with each other and Google has a policy to prevent double serving (multiple ads from the same company appearing on the same search results page).
  • You can only use one domain in your ads, and it should be the same one that was approved in your initial application. If you want to build several micro campaigns, make sure that they are part of the same domain and that they are not leading to different websites.
  • Your ads can not offer financial products.
  • Your ads can not link to pages that are used to send visitors to other websites.

Your ads will appear on Google search results pages, in position below the ads of paying advertisers

How to apply

You need to apply to Ad Grants on this page:

Once your application is submitted, Google will review it and send you an email once your application is approved.

Set up your account and create your campaigns

When you set up your AdWords account for Google Grants, it is very important that you skip the request to add billing information. The warning will go away once the account has been approved for Google Grants.

You will also need to use US dollars as your currency, even though you are based in Ireland.

The same best practices apply for a charity campaign than for any other AdWords campaigns:

Create one campaign for each goal

You should have a defined goal for each campaign. If your non-profit organisation has several goals or projects, you should create a separate campaign for each one of them.

Structure your campaigns in ad groups

Your ad groups should be tightly themed for high relevancy. If one of your ad group contains more than 30 keywords, you can probably split it into more ad groups.

Find relevant keywords

It is probably obvious, but as one of your goal as a charity is probably to raise awareness, you should definitely bid on your brand terms and create one separate branding ad group or even campaign.

However, you should also expand your keywords list to more generic terms and use long tail keywords too, as you have $329 to spend a day, so you definitely need to have traffic. You should consider adding generic keywords such as volunteering or charity giving.

If you can’t think of any more keywords to add to your campaigns, here are a few tips:

  • Use the keyword planner. If you enter your current keywords, your landing page or your category, this tool will provide extra ad groups and keywords to add.
  • Visit Google Trends and see which terms people are looking for.
  • Use Google search engine to get new ideas using predictive search results.

Write effective ads

As for any other AdWords campaigns, your ads should be catchy and contain a call to action in order to grab people’s attention and get them interested in your cause. The use of numbers and statistics has been proved efficient in AdWords, and as a charity of course you should definitely create a sense of urgency and take advantage of the emotional pull. Emotions such as fear, anger, disgust and affirmation work very well to drive PPC results.

You should at least create 2 ads per ad group, so you can test them and see which messaging is working best.

Landing pages

Your landing page is as important as your ad. The people who click on your ads should land on the most relevant page, whether it is a sign up page or a donation page.

Contact forms should be kept as short as possible. People are reluctant to share too much private information online. Limit the fields to fill in to email address, and eventually first name and name.

Maintain your account

In order to keep your Google Grants account active, you need to log in at least once a month and make at least one change every 90 days. Otherwise Google might pause or suspend your account. That’s why it is crucial that you manage it closely.

With a max CPC limited to $2, your non-profit AdWords campaigns might be harder to optimise, and you also might struggle to get a good position on the search results page.

You also might find it hard to spend $329 a day in AdWords. The following optimisation recommendations might help you:

  • Negative Keywords

Don’t add too many negative keywords to start. Remember, you need to spend $329 a day, and even though you don’t want your ads to show for searches that are totally irrelevant, you don’t want to struggle to reach your daily budget.

  • Search query report

Download your search query report on a regular basis as it will be a good source of inspiration to find new themes or keywords to add in order to increase traffic.

  • Match types

You shouldn’t use too restrictive match types in order to spend your budget. Broad match modified will bring you a lot of impressions and potential clicks, so you should start with it and then progressively add the other 2 match types (phrase and exact) in separate ad groups as they might bring you other opportunities and attract different kinds of audiences.

Get Help from Google

Google Grants account holders can contact customer support from Google as any other advertiser can, so don’t be afraid to reach out to the team here. As part of their program, Google recruit volunteers from among their AdWords employees to optimise Google Grants accounts, particularly those of bigger charities and ones spending up to their $10,000/month limit. As this is a volunteer program, turnaround times on optimization work can be long, but don’t be afraid to ask your “account manager” for advice and support in this area.

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RICHARD TALBOT Head of Paid Search

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An experienced digital marketer with 8+ years of industry experience, Richard has worked in client account management at both Google AdWords and Microsoft's Bing Ads in Dublin. He now leads the Paid Search & Display Advertising team at Tinderpoint delivering successful campaigns for a portfolio of diverse national and international clients across many industries.