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podcast: Google Ad Grants 101 with Simon Choy and David Botwick-Ries


In this episode of the podcast, we’re talking about Google Ad Grants with David Botwick-Ries and Simon Choy from ConnectAd, an organization dedicated to assisting charities to obtain and manage free advertising through Google Ad Grants. Tune in to learn what Google Ads are (if you’re just starting out), how to get the grant, how to set up your account and ads, and how to optimize your ads so that you’re actually getting results.

what is a Google Ad Grant anyways?

Simply put, put the Google Ad Grant is an opportunity on behalf of Google to provide eligible nonprofits with $10,000 a month in AdWords credits - for life! Simon explained that the grant refreshes every single month with no end date, as long as you meet the compliance. Having lifetime access to free advertising using Google Ads can result in people learning how to get involved, become supporters, members, volunteers and so forth.

like all things, you need a strategy

It's really easy to throw some ads up there and HOPE that they run well. Simon suggests that having a strategy will help increase your success with your ads. The first step is to think about your goals - what do you want to achieve with your website? Once you figure out your objectives, you can start to create campaigns inside the Google Ad interface.

Think about who you’re trying to target - how might they be searching for you on Google? These ads use people’s google search keywords to serve up the ads they see, so you want to match your strategy with the words people are using to find organizations like yours.

You also need to make sure your strategy is cohesive from ad to website - so ideally you’ll have a specific page on your website that addresses the information people are searching for. For example, if your ad is for volunteers, it should take people to the volunteer page of your website, not the general home page.

what kind of information is available to us through Google Ads?

How effective are your ads? That’s actually pretty easy to measure.

The first step is to access Google Analytics, a free platform that you can use and you install on your website that tells you what people do when they get there. This can include how many people are looking at your website, what content are they looking at and how long they’re staying on your website. You need to connect it to your Google Ad Grants account where you can actually trace what keywords they’re using to get to your website.

In the event that you have these ads running and you’re not seeing clicks, you can troubleshoot by going back and looking at what keywords you’re using. Be sure you’re using keywords that have the greatest relevance to your audience. You can also use Google’s free Keyword Planner Tool which allows you to enter or search your keywords to get an estimate about how many people search for that keyword every month. It will also give you ideas for what words you may want to use.

Within Google Ads, you can also find your “quality score” which measures how relevant your ads and landing pages are to your keywords. If people aren’t clicking your ads, there is a disconnect between the keywords and ads. If they click but aren’t engaging on your website, there’s a disconnect between the ad and the landing page. If these things are not aligned, your quality score goes down and your ads will not be shown as much.

“that’s great but what do we get out of it?”

While this sounds great, you may be thinking “What do I really get out of this?”

For David, it all comes back to strategy. You could spend all of the grant money and have a great clickthrough rate. However, if you don't have that destination to send people to and you don't actually have a clear strategy of what you want to achieve then you may think that the ad isn’t working or that there isn’t any return on investment. You might find yourself staring at a bunch of KPIs without actually understanding how it translates to your organization.

Understand what is it that you want out of these ads. What are the actions that you want people to take? If you don’t have a clear picture of what success looks like, you won’t be successful.

how to apply for your Google Ad Grant

Simon’s first step is to register with Tech Soup Canada and receive a “textbook token” which allows you to apply for a program called Google for Nonprofits. Then you will need to create a Google Ad account and enroll in the Google Ads Program. In there you will have to set up your account and take a pre-qualification quiz. Don’t worry, this quiz just ensures that you understand the basics of how the program works. Then you’ll need to wait until they review and approve your application. Once you’re in, you’re in for life as long as you maintain and use it properly.

This grant is a free opportunity for nonprofits to take advantage of $10,000 in ads every month as long as you stay compliant. This means that you’re producing quality ads and that your quality score doesn’t reach one or two. If it reaches that score for two months in a row your account and your access to the grant suspended. If your account does get suspended, you can make the changes needed to be compliant again. Google will send you a compliance report every month so you can keep an eye out for their criteria and if you need to make any changes. Then you can resubmit to Google and wait for them to review and approve it. You definitely don’t want to get suspended as it can ruin your momentum and KPIs.

“so how do we know if our ad was successful?”

While we can only hope that people are searching up how to donate or volunteer at your organization, we know that they probably aren’t doing that. After all, they may not even know about your small nonprofit in the first place! What other conversions can we look for? Simon says that your email acquisitions are an awesome way to judge whether your ad was successful or not. With an email, you can engage them over time and develop a relationship with them to convert them into a supporter or donor.

With your free Google Ad done right, you can tap into actions that your target audience was already taking and things they’re already looking for. This opportunity by Google will allow your organization to produce Google ads for free for as long as you comply to their standards - meaning that you can’t just “set it and forget it.” Your ability to match up with what your audience is looking for and your ability to make their experience easy and useful is where you can see the growth and return on investment.

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Resources from this Episode

The Good Partnership Guide CharityVillage ConnectAd CharityHowTo TechSoup Canada Google for Nonprofits Google Ads Program Google Keyword Planner Google Quality Score

The Small Nonprofit is produced by Eloisa Jane Mariano


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