How to Use Google Ads for Non-Profit Organizations

How to Use Google Ads for Non-Profit Organizations

Google Ads can be a valuable tool for non-profit organizations looking to increase their visibility and attract more donations. With the right strategy and approach, you can use this powerful advertising platform to connect with potential supporters and raise awareness for your cause. In this article, we’ll explore some tips and best practices for using Google Ads to benefit your non-profit organization.

One of the ways nonprofits analyze what is working for them is by looking at the return on investment (ROI) from the different actions they take. ROI refers to what you receive in return when you invest in a product or service. ROI is a performance measure that evaluates the profitability or efficiency of an investment.

So, for a nonprofit, analyzing ROI for a given expenditure would involve evaluating what they get in return and determining whether that return is worth the investment. ROI is measured as a percentage, calculated by taking the current (or returned) value of the investment minus its cost and then dividing it by the cost of the investment.

Luckily, many resources are available to nonprofits that help them amplify their reach and impact without high costs, thereby producing strong ROIs. One of the most valuable resources is Google Ad Grants. In this article, we’ll explain the Google Ad Grant and the ROI you can expect from it.

What Is Google Ad Grants?

Google Ad Grants—commonly referred to as “the Google Grant”—is a program that Google offers to nonprofit organizations. This program focuses on helping nonprofits reach a wider audience online by providing them with up to $10,000 per month in search ads on Google.

The Google Ad Grant is a marketing tool to create more awareness for your organization and reach new people online. This helps garner interest among and build relationships with these individuals, which can lead to them becoming involved in your organization, whether through volunteering, spreading the word about you, donating, or interacting with your nonprofit in any other way.

The Google Ad Grant is available to all nonprofits that are registered 501(c)(3) organizations and have a user-friendly website to use with their search ads. While maximizing the value of the Grant can be difficult, applying for it is relatively straightforward. Here are three main steps involved with acquiring the Google Ad Grant:

  1. Apply for Google for Nonprofits
  2. Activate Ad Grants
  3. Launch a Successful Ad Grants Campaign

Now that you understand what the Google Ad Grant is and how to acquire it let’s look at the ROI it can offer your organization.

What Is the ROI for the Google Ad Grant?

The Google Ad Grant is technically free, so that it may seem like no investment is needed. However, acquiring and maintaining the Google Ad Grant isn’t all that simple. Complying with the rules and requirements of the Grant involves a lot of work and understanding.

As the Grant is a tool designed for nonprofits to gain awareness, Google has (and frequently updates or adds more) compliance guidelines for what types of services can be advertised with the Grant and how organizations are allowed to do so. If you don’t comply with these guidelines, you can lose the Grant, and it can be more challenging to acquire it again later.

So, the investment required for the Google Ad Grant usually involves having someone manage it for you, ensuring compliance with the newest Grant guidelines and changes. While some organizations try to manage the Grant in-house, this doesn’t always work well, as it requires specialized knowledge of Google policies that frequently change. Gaining and maintaining this knowledge is exhaustive enough to take away time from a team member’s other responsibilities. Further, even if they manage to comply with all requirements of the Grant, many do not achieve the results they are looking for, as general best practices for Google Ads (Grant or otherwise) are a whole other area of specialization, but one integral to making the most of your ads.

The other option involves hiring a company to manage the Google Ad Grant for you. This ensures that you have a team of professionals who are experts when it comes to the Google Ad Grant and will put you in the best position to succeed with it. Depending on the company you hire, management can cost anywhere from $400 to over $1,000 a month, as there are many management plans that include add-ons to further boost the impact and performance of your Google Ad Grant.

If your organization takes this route, hiring a company to manage the Grant for you is the main investment associated with the Google Ad Grant and, therefore, is the investment you would use to measure ROI. However, doing so is not always simple and straightforward.

How Do I Calculate ROI for the Google Ad Grant?

The ROI from the Google Ad Grant for your particular nonprofit organization will depend on your specific goals and what metrics are important to you. As such, using Google Analytics to track users’ behavior after they see ads is the most obvious way to measure the return on investment for those ads.

Using this, you can track conversions and determine things like how many clicks, donations, member sign-ups, or other actions you are getting through Google Ads traffic. It is these actions that will tell you how much those ads are really worth, or how much they are returning on your investment: Are your Grant Ads leading new people to your organization? Are you seeing meaningful growth from your pre-Grant Ads baseline site traffic? By measuring the answers to those questions, you can determine the “worth” of your Grant Ads and whether or not they are producing a return on their investment.

Paid Ads vs. Google Ad Grant ROI

It should be noted that, as in-kind donations from Google, the calculation of ROI for your Grant ads is quite different than the calculation for “out-of-pocket” paid ads. Many marketing professionals are accustomed to calculating the ROI for their ads against the amount paid for those ads. An out-of-pocket expense of $10,000 on ads is the investment against which the ROI for those ads is calculated.

With Grant Ads, however, the (up to) $10,000 spent on ads comes from Google’s own capital, and has no real, transferrable value for your nonprofit, as it is an in-kind donation, and not a true donation that could otherwise be added to your budget elsewhere. As such, in traditional marketing, a lower spend on ads may increase your ROI by decreasing your investment, but with Grant Ads, the more important question is how much time or money you spend on Grant Management, not how much Google spends while displaying your ads.

This is a critical difference, as it can allow for very different, and more competitive, advertising tactics with Grant Ads than out-of-pocket paid ads. When you pay for each ad yourself, you’ll want to keep the cost down as far as possible to keep your ROI as high as possible. This means things like omitting bids on the most competitive, expensive keywords, and instead focusing on areas that will be cheaper to advertise, but less popular among searchers (search popularity being one of the greatest contributors to the price of a specific advertisement).

With Grant Ads, you are free to bid on the most expensive keywords without sacrificing your ROI. This is because, whether Google spends $10 or $10,000 showing your Grant Ads, your real investment stays the same. If you spend $700 on Grant Management, that stays constant no matter how much of the Grant Google “spends” on your ads. As such, rather than a part of the investment, any Ad Grant spend can be thought of as Google paying themselves in Monopoly money, the product of which is free to you (outside of time or money spent managing the Grant).

The ROI for Grant Ads is therefore calculated based on the relationship between real dollars spent ($700 in this example), and the publicity and expertise received, regardless of the cost of that publicity for Google via the Grant. $10,000 may be a concerning amount to spend out of pocket for paid advertisers, but, in the above Ad Grants scenario, that same $10,000 comes at a real investment of $700, and does not factor into ROI calculations. ROI is instead calculated by determining the value of the publicity received (clicks, conversions, shares, and the advertising expertise required to achieve those results), held against the $700 in real money spent to receive it.

At Nonprofit Megaphone, we’re Google Ad Grants experts who are focused on helping nonprofits thrive. We’ve helped hundreds of nonprofits achieve the results they want through the Google Ad Grant, with many results above and beyond what our clients thought was even possible. Explore our many case studies to illustrate just how much of an impact our Grant Management can have for your organization. Our Google Ad Grant management can yield valuable results for your organization and help you to get the greatest ROI from the Google Ad Grant. If you’re interested in experiencing similar returns from your Google Ad Grant management, please reach out to us today to get started!

google ad grants

Dom Lincoln

Dom is a Content Writer at Nonprofit Megaphone where he writes about a wide variety of topics for his clients. He is passionate about making the world a better place for everyone and furthering the crucial missions of nonprofits. Dom believes that sharing knowledge is one of the best ways to bring about change.

April 20, 2023

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