Google Ad Grants For Charities - The Ultimate Guide
Google Grants is an program helping non-profit organisations around the world share their cause, raise funds and recruit volunteers through Google Ads. Charities and NGOs are eligible to receive $10,000 or around £7,5000 in monthly spend on Google Search locally and across the globe. Display campaigns may be set up in a separate account, funded by the non-profit organisation or its donors.
While the grant can be one of the most valuable tools for non-profits and an excellent source of relevant traffic, there are certain account limitations and downsides to using Grants compared to standard, paid Google Ads accounts.
Depending on the cause and location, most charities usually spend no more than $300 per month when we take over their accounts, with over $9,000 of their grant not being utilized. Luckily there are multiple ways to improve spend and maximise account visibility and conversions.
At The PPC Agency we helped more than 10 charities so far, improving their visibility, increasing engagement and driving valuable conversions through paid search campaigns. In this post we are going to cover the basics of setting up a Google Grants account, best practices and pitfalls to watch out for.
Getting Started. To apply for Google grants, organisations must apply for Google for Non-Profits and hold a charity status in their registered country. No payment details are necessary, however just like paid accounts, Grants account owners will be required to verify their identity after new account is launched.
Account specifications. Using Grants means that that the organisations using it will face certain limitations when it comes to their bids, bidding strategy, campaign performance and campaign types.
For instance, Ad Grants ads appear only in positions below paid ads and there is a $2 maximum bid limit, meaning that paid accounts competing with grants accounts for the same terms will always win the auction. Google Ads accounts that are not exclusively using smart campaigns must meet certain performance and set-up criteria too. Accounts must maintain a 5% click-through rate and each campaign must also have at least two active ad groups per campaigns and two active, unique text ads. Campaigns must also have at least two unique sitelink extensions and conversion tracking. When it comes to bidding strategies, "Ad Grants requires that accounts created on or after 22 April 2019 ... use conversion-based smart bidding for all campaigns, unless using Smart campaigns. Each campaign must use either Maximise conversions, Maximise conversion values, target CPA or target ROAS bidding." Google will also take manual action, pausing keywords within accounts that have low quality score or are deemed irrelevant. Keyword research. As with any PPC campaign, we always recommend starting with keyword research. Find out how many times a keyword is searched on Google each month in a specific location, how competitive that keyword is and what the average cost per click is. The higher the cost per click, the more competitive the niche and the lower your exposure would be. The best way to do keyword research is Google's own Keyword Planner - it's free and has the most accurate data, compared to any other tool we have used. Other free keyword research tools can be found on Moz, The Hoth, Ubersuggest and WordStream. Start by thinking about how you want potential volunteers and donors to find your website and put those search keywords into the keyword planner. Google Keyword planner comes with many useful features, giving you keyword ideas based on a website's url or products and services. You can use your competitors' websites for keyword inspiration too.
You can also get search volume and other historical metrics, plus forecasts for how they could perform when using different bidding strategies and targeting different languages, locations and devices.
Once you have a good list of keywords, download them or add them directly to your existing campaigns. Our advice is to target as many relevant keywords as possible. Since Google Grants offers free ad spend, there is no need to add negative keywords or filter out low intent searches. However make sure that your selection of keywords is relevant to your organisation and target audience. Target your keywords in exact, phrase and broad match. You can read more about keyword match types and Google ads mistakes here.
Account & Campaign Set Up. As we mentioned above, conversion tracking is crucial to understanding how your keywords and ads perform and having conversion tracking is also a Google Grants requirement. Once your goals have been defined and conversion tracking has been set up, it's time to create your first search campaign. The easiest way is to create a smart campaign, however this type gives you almost zero control over performance, so we always recommend switching to standard search campaigns and converting your account to expert mode . Ad Grants requires accounts use conversion-based smart bidding - unless if it's a smart campaign, each campaign must use either maximise conversions, maximise conversion value, target CPA or target ROAS bidding. While Maximise Clicks has proven to be time and time again the absolute best strategy for Grants accounts, you would risk having your account disapproved for violating the Grants requirements.
Campaign Structure. Google Grants require each campaign to have at least 2 ad groups with at least 2 unique, active ads per ad group. At The PPC Agency we always recommend structuring campaigns around user intent with at least 3 ads per ad group. Think about it this way:
What are my future donors/volunteers searching for on Google? Use this approach to find relevant keywords and organise them into different ad groups in your campaign. Make sure that the keywords, ad text and your website are all relevant to the users' search. If the user is misled by ad copy and taken to an irrelevant landing page, which has little to do with what they searched for, this will harm your your account's performance and can even result in account suspension.
What ad text and calls to action would get the users to click on my website? Ad copy should be relevant to the users' search, as well as the landing page.
What happens after someone clicks my ads? How likely is it that someone immediately donates to your cause or requests to become a volunteer? Think about other ways to engage with users, by asking them to follow your organisation on social media, downloading a resource pack or by joining your mailing list. This way, you can keep them engaged after they left your website. Don't forget, landing page optimisation is essential to generating engaged users.
When creating your ads in your intend-based ad groups, include the search keywords into the ad headlines, path and ad descriptions, to help improve your keyword quality score and highlight the ad relevancy to the user. Take advantage of features like dynamic keyword insertion - this helps create highly relevant ad copy, guaranteed to provide better click through rate, helping you keep the account's CTR over 5%. Make the most of your text ads by utilising all ad extensions. They provide the user with additional information about your organisation, including images, location information, text and call options. Once your campaign is set up, you must keep an eye on its performance and make regular additions to your keywords list, update the ad copy and optimise your campaign.