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Strategies to maximize your nonprofit’s Google Grant, Part II

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In the first installment of this article, I introduced the Google Grants program that offers free advertising to nonprofits through Google AdWords. In this second installment, you’ll learn how to maximize the Google Grants program for your organization, track results, and I’ll answer some frequently asked questions about the program.

The key to increasing exposure in any search-advertising program lies in research, strategy and creative thinking in keywords and ad copy. Most people won’t have any trouble developing the core list of keywords that come to mind right away developed from the core mission, program areas and the nonprofit name. Where many people tend to fall short is in thinking strategically and creatively about the related keywords that may fall on the fringe of core keywords.

As an example, let’s use a nonprofit whose mission is addressing climate change. This nonprofit discovers that anglers become interested in climate change issues when they understand how climate change impacts river levels in Montana. An AdWord program can specifically target people using Google to search for fishing guides in Montana —thus connecting that personal interest to the nonprofit’s mission of addressing climate change.

Tracking results and developing insights

The beautiful thing about search advertising is that it’s highly trackable. Google AdWords provides the ability to track impressions, click-through rates and an assortment of other statistics. Goals can be defined, providing the ability to track conversion rates for keywords and ads.

AdWords provides the ability to make immediate changes to keywords and ad copy, as well as run A/B testing to determine which variables are most effective in generating results. Beyond the benefits of free advertising, Google AdWords is also a powerful tool in developing insights about your audience and what they respond to. These insights can then be applied to other online and offline advertising efforts.

As you track results over time, look to AdWords for suggestions about additional keywords to target. Google will occasionally provide suggestions for related keyword opportunities. Also look to your website traffic reports for keywords that might provide additional opportunity in AdWords.

Sharing and questions

I encourage you to share this information with your friends in the nonprofit community.

If you have specific questions about applying for or managing a Google Grant, we’d be glad to answer them. Feel free to comment at the end of this article, or contact us directly. You will also find a list of frequently asked questions below.

Frequently asked questions about Google Grants

Q: How do we determine if our organization is eligible?

A: Make sure that you have current 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, and that your tax status and EIN number are updated in the online database. Here are the full legal requirements from Google.

Q: What types of nonprofit organizations get the greatest benefit from a Google Grant?

A: For small community-focused nonprofits it can be difficult to take advantage of the full grant. The amount of search traffic from a targeted geographical area can be limiting. However, for nonprofits with regional, national or international focus, the results can be very rewarding.

Q: Where do we go to apply?


Q: How long does it take to find out if we are approved?

A: We have noticed that it takes between four and six months for approval.

Q: We are approved for a grant! What do we do next?

A: Determine if you are committed to managing the program regularly in-house or if you should work with an experienced Google Grants consultant. Google puts out a simple ‘Ongoing Management Guide‘ to get you started.

Q: What kinds of tools are available to help us research and develop our keyword list?

A: There are a variety of tools available. The AdWords platform itself provides a keyword suggestion tool. As you input keywords that you’d like to target, Google will provide variations and related keywords. This tool also allows you to input a website and generate a list of relevant keywords. The Google keyword suggestion tool , along with other third party providers such as Wordtracker, offer a great way to see what kind of search traffic is expected for a given keyword.

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