Whether you live in a small town or a huge metro-area, it’s more than likely that you are surrounded by an array of nonprofit endeavors. These organizations assemble themselves under 501(c)(3) tax status and operate to help a wide variety of needs and causes. They provide important services where the need is greatest, yet these venerable organizations are among the most needy themselves. They often struggle to recruit volunteers and money is constantly in short supply. Add to that the fact that most are far behind the technology curve and you end up with a dire situation. However, one of the biggest businesses in the world is actually ready to help.
The Google Grants program is a little known offering by the search giant that is extremely generous and useful for nonprofit organizations. Although the criteria are rather specific, the program offers qualifying organization up to $10,000 a month in free search advertising to promote their missions and initiatives through the AdWords system. This is a great opportunity for these organizations to get in front of web savvy contributors and volunteers. It also presents a golden opportunity to begin the process of reorienting efforts to a more web-centric approach. There are some restrictions for using Google Grants. Daily budgets are set to $330.00, Costs-Per-Click are limited to $2.00, campaigns can only be keyword-targeted and ads can only be text ads. The full list of restrictions and limitations can be viewed here. While these do narrow the usage they still provide plenty of latitude for qualifying organizations to benefit from the program.
AdWords Can Only Play a Single Part
Here’s the BUT. Advertising is a process and the free AdWords offered by Google are but a single step in that process. Successful advertising is based on campaigns and you need to have an infrastructure in place to to execute an online advertising campaign effectively. First and foremost, you have to have a website designed as a marketing tool. This is the point at which many nonprofit organizations will have to pause and reflect on their position. Many have volunteers, who operating under the best intentions, develop a website for them. These are often unsuccessful and rarely include the elements needed for effective online marketing. For a website to be an effective marketing tool it needs to specifically and intentionally portray your brand while capturing a visitors attention and helping them navigate to the information they are looking for. It also needs to guide them to the information you want them to see or take action upon. This is your baseline Call to Action (CTA). You can see some of the elements that help accomplish these website necessities in What Makes a Website an Effective Marketing Tool? . Without these in place, leveraging the Google Grant program to send people to your site will provide very diminished returns. But this is an incredible opportunity as well. How often do you encounter a scenario where an organization is willing to hand you $10,000 a month of in-kind services? So if you look at it as the organizational impetus to begin an online marketing program you can wrap the investment in a professionally developed website into the benefits that can be derived which makes for a very compelling case for radical change in the way a non-profit organization looks at marketing and sustainability.
Using AdWords for Nonprofit Campaigns
Let’s say you have the elements in place to leverage the Google Grants program, you may ask yourself; What would we have to advertise? While many would default to an appeal for donations the reality is that search opens a much broader opportunity. Search marketing is all about providing the answers to questions. So from the perspective of nonprofits, look at what solutions you provide as a way to build relationships. Some examples would look like:
Donate _______ to charity – People are looking for ways to connect their needs to charitable opportunities. Car donations are popular way for many people to dispose of their old cars but this approach can be used for many items. Clothing, food donations and any number of other items where surplus can converge with a charitable donation are opportunities to answer search queries and develop a campaign.
Things to do in __________ – Consumers are always looking for things to do. Nonprofit art and performance centers are terrific candidates for answering searchers quest to find events. You can attach your town or neighborhood to the search or a phrase that qualifies the type of event like â€œwith kidsâ€ to further advance the campaign.
Volunteer opportunities __________ – Part of adjusting a nonprofits outreach to a more web-centric orientation is accommodating the changing demographics of volunteers as well as donors. Many students are required to volunteer as part of their educational requirements. Making it easy for them to find a cause they are interested in will bring a welcome stream of labor and energy to your doorstep. Inserting a location for students into your keyword target will help guide volunteers to you.
These are just a few examples. However just as the challenge of developing an effective website merits professional attention, so too does the management of an AdWords campaign. With thousands of dollars of free ads available, contracting an agency to administer a campaign is a cost effective approach to maximizing the benefit. With a potential ad budget of $120,000 per year, hiring an agency to manage your account for $500-$700 a month is a drop in bucket against the possible benefit.
The Effort is Worth the Investment
The shift to web-centric marketing was adopted by larger nonprofits long ago but many smaller organizations still struggle to shift their paradigm. Tools like Google Grants are great ways to begin the internal discussion because of the value they offer. Once you can get stake holders to see a reason to make a shift to web marketing and outreach, you can begin to build a comprehensive plan that will pay for itself many times over.
How to Apply to the Google Grants Program
What Makes a Website an Effective Marketing Tool?
Successful Advertising is Based on Campaigns