Google grants free AdWords advertising to selected charities

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Google grants free AdWords advertising to selected charities

Before you embark on your next marketing spend, I’d like to let you in on a little known scheme that is proving to be quite a useful tool in many charities’ sheds in Birmingham and around the world.

It’s called Google Grants and it allows any registered charity to spend up to £26k on Google AdWords (Pay Per Click) advertising for free. Just to confirm that isn’t a typo, it will cost you absolutely nothing (except the time it takes to apply).

What is Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising?

Some of you will understandably recoil in fear of abbreviations like PPC to help your charity, but worry not, it’s actually very simple. Let me explain exactly how it works.

The type of advertising scheme employed by Google AdWords is called “Pay Per Click” or PPC. You’ve probably noticed paid ads on Google which appear at the top of the search results with a pale yellow background, and also in smaller form, down the right hand side.

Normally, you pay an amount set by you when someone clicks on your ad, hence “Pay Per Click”. With the Google Grants in place, they limit you to $1 (60p) per click, but of course you don’t pay this.

Who the ads display for is theoretically controlled by you by assigning “keywords” to each ad. So if you have a charity which supports families looking to adopt a child in London, you might add “child adoption in london” as a keyword phrase. You can also control where and when your ads appear.

What is the Google Grant scheme?

The Google Grants scheme is an in-kind donation programme that was setup to support selected charities. Google are true believers in supporting communities so they put together a team of volunteers to manage the scheme.

At first Google offer a budget of $10,000 per month which equates to about £6,000. If you then show that you consistently make use of that budget, they can offer up to $40,000 per month, roughly £25,000.

Your charity will need to be registered with the Charity Commission and have a website with no revenue-generating advertising. The application process can take up to 6 weeks, but with the help of a digital marketing agency that has experience in helping charities to obtain Google Grants (such as Passion Digital) you can increase your chances of success and also potentially decrease processing times. Having managed many Google Grants accounts, Passion Digital have a 100% success rate and have had applications completed within 48 hours.

How can Google Grants help your charity?

PPC advertising is one of the most efficient ways of advertising these days. We’ve found it’s had a very positive impact on our clients’ website traffic, cause awareness and most importantly increased donations, which isn’t bad for something that’s free.

Managing your Google Grants account

This is where a little bit of time spent getting to grips with PPC can really pay off.

An important part of the process is keyword research. With the vast amount of people using Google, they have a pretty good idea of how competitive each keyword is and this affects the Cost Per Click (CPC).

As mentioned, with the Google Grants scheme there is a limit of $1 CPC per keyword so research is necessary to make sure you aren’t assigning keywords that cost over $1 to your campaign otherwise your ad won’t be displayed to anyone.

Have a good think about what you might type into Google if you were searching for your charity or cause. Use Google’s Keyword Tool to see how competitive your keyword is and how much the estimated CPC will be. In our adoption example, keyword phrases like “adoption agency” and “best adoption agencies” are more competitive than “how to adopt in london” or “adopting a child uk”, therefore they are more expensive.

When writing your ad copy, include your keywords where you can. If a user then searches using those keywords, they will be in bold within the ad. Evidence suggests this improves Click Through Rate (CTR).

Of course, this work can be tricky for some, and time-consuming for others, so that’s where getting in specialists who manage Google Grants accounts professionally can be really useful.

Supporting your Google Grant with a paid account

In our experience, 90% of keywords fall within the $1 limit, however, there will be a small amout of keywords that are too costly so we at Passion Digital recommend running a paid AdWords account alongside the grant to capture that audience too.

Monitoring your campaigns

Unfortunately, running an effective PPC campaign is not a one hit wonder. You have to monitor your campaigns closely. If a campaign is underperforming, set yourself little optimisation challenges.

The great thing about Google Grants is that your CPC will always be $1 so changing the bid isn’t an option. You’ll have to be more cunning to increase CTR, perhaps come up with some funky ad copy, or research your keywords further.

As with learning anything new, it will take a bit of practice but one you get into the swing of things, you may soon be seeing results for your charity.

Special offer for Charityzine readers

We’d like to offer our advice and guidance to the Charityzine audience as we think it’s such a great site. Until the 31st November 2012, we will process Google Grant applications for free. Just mention that you have read this article and we’ll be happy to help you and your charity out.

This article was written by Mike Grindy who runs Passion Digital in London and has worked in digital marketing for charities for over 8 years. He and his team manage Google Grants accounts for QUIT, TACT and Charities Aid Foundation.

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