Warning: Google Grants can be seriously good for your charity's health

In the first of two articles, digital marketing expert Rob Salmon sets out how charities can benefit from the search giant's grants programme

Rob Salmon
Rob Salmon

If you haven’t heard of Google Grants, I promise that what you’re about to read is true, no matter how ‘too good to be true’ it seems. The programme can play a part in helping you achieve your aims. If you already have a grant, my second article explains how to make the most of it.

As part of its nonprofit programme, Google gives eligible charities $10,000 (£6,200) a month to spend on AdWords, Google's pay-per-click advertising system. Not only that, if you spend at least $9,500 (£5,920) in two months of the previous 12 and fulfil other criteria, you can also apply for Grantspro. If approved, that means that Google will give your charity $40,000 a month to spend. That’s a whopping $480,000 (£300,000) a year.

If questions such as ‘is my charity eligible?’, ‘how do you apply?’, ‘what is Adwords pay-per-click advertising?’ and ‘is this too good to be true?’ are popping into your head, please read on for the answers.

What is AdWords and how does it work?

- In Google’s words, AdWords is an ‘online advertising platform that can help you drive interested people to your website’. It is the programme you use to run a Google Grant

- The AdWords are adverts that appear above, below and to the right of the results when people search on Google

- As part of the Google Grants programme, you decide what keywords (words that describe what your charity does, the sector you work in, the fundraising activity you undertake) you want your ads to be shown for

- You decide the locations in which people will see your ads i.e. a city, country or worldwide

- You create the ads by writing compelling copy about your content

- You bid how much you are willing to pay Google (out of your grant money) when someone clicks through to your website (a maximum of $1).

There’s a useful video that gives you further info here.

Is my charity eligible for Google Grants?

To qualify for the programme, charities must be based in the UK and registered with the Charity Commission, the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator or Inland Revenue.

In addition, the following organisations are not eligible: governmental entities and organisations, hospitals and medical groups, schools, childcare centres, academic institutions and universities, political parties, political organisations, and lobbying groups.

You can read more on eligibility here.

How do you apply?

Just visit this link and click on ‘Apply Now’:.

What happens after you’ve applied? 

Your application may take three to four months to process, although some grants have been approved much quicker than this. Once your application has been reviewed, the person who submitted the application will receive an email. If approved, you’ll receive further information, such as how to create an AdWords account and guidance to help you make the most of your grant.

What do you do once you are approved?

You’ll need to set up your AdWords account, choose your keywords, create your ads, identify what actions you want people to take (i.e. donate, sign up, download) and then submit your account for approval – this can take up to six weeks.

Don’t worry if this sounds like a complicated business, Google take you through all the steps in this article.

What does Google ask for in return?

Not very much. The company asks that you ‘actively engage’ with the programme, which effectively means replying to any emails that come in and logging in at least once a month to see how your campaigns are performing. If you do not reply to emails or do not log in for three months in a row, your account could be paused or suspended, so it is worth doing what they ask on this one.

It shouldn’t be hard to meet these requirements as ideally you’d be logging in a lot more than once a month to optimise your ads and implement new campaigns.

Are there any restrictions?

There are a few restrictions compared with just setting up a paid-for account on Google AdWords.

You’re allowed a daily budget of $330, your ads can only appear on Google search results (you can target other sites using a paid account), you can only run text ads and you’ll have a maximum cost-per-click of $1 (some keywords will cost more than this but you should be able to find plenty of things to bid on with your grant).

In addition, your ads need to ‘reflect the mission of your organisation and your keywords must be relevant to your programmes and services’. There’s more info on this and the other restrictions here.

How do you make the most of your grant?

To make the most of your grant will require time. Dedicate time to learning about AdWords best practice. Link your AdWords account to Google Analytics so you can focus on what it is delivering.

If you really care for and nurture your grant, my hunch is that before too long you’ll be using up all your monthly budget. And remember, if you spend $9,500 in two months of the previous 12, you’ll be in a position to apply for Grantspro. There are a few more eligibility requirements but if you are approved your monthly spending limit goes up to $40,000 a month.

Is this too good to be true?

It might still sound too good to be true but the Google Grants programme is very real. If you haven’t got one and you meet the eligibility requirements my advice is to apply right away.

Read Rob Salmon's second article about how to make the most of your Google Grant

Rob Salmon is director of marketing at Torchbox. You can contact him on Twitter @rsalmonuk

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