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Google Ad Grant Management Best Practices

Written by Fleur Ostojak on .
Wooden blocks spelling out the word grants

In the busy and rapidly changing world of digital marketing, information competes for attention. This is something that not only businesses find difficult when it comes to fighting for the top search results, but charities too. Charities and non-profit organisations must know how to effectively amplify their voice, introduce themselves to a wider audience, and secure vital donations and volunteers so that they can continue their work. A big challenge for these organisations is to achieve all of the above with very limited resources. Financial restrictions can make it difficult to achieve online visibility - especially when they are overshadowed by larger corporations with bigger marketing budgets.

These issues can be helped by Google’s Ad Grant Program. Since 2003, Google has been supporting charities and non-profits by giving them a voice using a monthly advertising budget that acts as a gift-in-kind to appear on Google’s platform. Although this can help charities massively, navigating Google Ad Grant marketing can be complex and time-consuming to fully understand. In this article, we are going to break down the best practices to manage your Google Ad Grant and use it to the best of your ability, so you can witness the transformation of your online presence and harness the power of digital marketing for your charity.

We will cover:

What is a Google Ad Grant?

google ad grants logo

A Google Ad Grant is a program devised by Google that provides charities and non-profit organisations $10,000 in-kind every month. This can be used to market online similarly to a normal Google Ad account, although there are particular guidelines and policies to follow.

The primary goal of using your Google Ad Grant for digital marketing is to use the power of search ads to increase your visibility, attract supporters, and achieve your company’s goals. The impact of this is that you can reach an audience that you would probably not be able to reach without the power of a strong digital presence. All it takes to make this happen is a valid charitable status, a well-maintained website, strategic campaign management, relevant keywords and good-quality, engaging content.

Who is eligible for a Google Ad Grant?

Before you apply for a Google Ad Grant, you must be aware of the eligibility criteria. To request an account, you must meet the following:

A charity or nonprofit organisation may be ineligible if it is the following:

  • A Government organisation
  • A healthcare organisation
  • A school or academic faculty

Google Ad Grant Policies

You now know if you’re eligible for a Google Ad Grant, but do you know how to remain compliant with it? This is a crucial element in understanding Google Ad Grants, as failure to remain compliant can result in losing your Grant entirely!

Look out for:

  • Click Through Rate (CTR): your Ad Grant must maintain an overall CTR of over 5%. If it does not reach 5% for two consecutive months, the account will face suspension.
  • Keywords: unless it is specifically related to your company, avoid single-word keywords. In addition to this, you must make sure that your keywords do not have a quality score of 2 or less. You can resolve this by setting up an automated rule to pause keywords if the quality drops to two or below.
  • Location: where is your audience located? Target your ads to the countries relevant to your organisation’s objectives who would want to find out more about you.

There are a number of areas of compliance. Becoming non-compliant on any of them could result in account suspension.

The best practices for Google Ad Grant management

Once you have been granted access to your Google Ad Grant, there are multiple practices to keep in mind to make the most of your budget allowance. These include:

Creating Campaigns for every goal

The best way to get started with your Google Ad Grant account is by creating Campaigns that represent a specific goal or objective. For example, your charity may host multiple events to encourage donations and awareness, so you can label the Campaign “Events”.

Within the Events Campaign, you can then make Ad Groups that fall under this category, such as “Oxford half-marathon”, “Virtual Walking Challenge” and “Big Sleep Out” but remember you must have at least two Ad Groups per Campaign. Break those Ad Groups up by event or keyword topic area in order to keep them as targeted as possible to your ad copy.

When you create your Ad Groups, ensure that you create relevant keywords and relevant text that match the motive of your Ad Group. It is vital that your landing page is appropriate to the Ad Group you are advertising, to help guide the visitor to what you would like them to see (sign up, share with others, or donate to the cause).

Use keywords to attract your target audience

Choose your keywords carefully! It can be difficult to gauge, but keywords play a crucial role in Google Ad Grant advertising because they serve as the foundation for targeting your specific audience. When a user enters a keyword into Google, the ads that are associated with those keywords should appear at the top of the search results. Use a maximum of around 12 keywords, otherwise you are at risk of losing your tight targeting. A great way to find out the popular keywords that relate to your charity is through Google Search Console. Another good research tool is the Keyword Planning tool in Google Ads itself. This will show you similar suggestions to the keywords that you enter, recording if it has a high or low search volume, and provide a rough idea of how much the keyword would cost per click.

Use match type options

Keyword chart

Match types refer to the ‘types’ of keywords you use, giving you the option of how closely a search query matches your chosen keywords for the ad to appear. The three match types are:

Broad match: your ad may appear for searches around your keyword, including grammatical errors and other related searches. It may receive impressions, but not exactly the targeted traffic you are hoping to find.

Phrase match: a phrase match can help you reach more searches with the same meaning as your keyword. It allows you to be specific whilst also allowing for a wider reach. For example, if your keyword was “clean water charity”, your ad may be triggered by searches such as “donate to clean water organisation” and “water relief organisations”.

Exact match: opposite to a broad match, an exact match means your ads will show only in searches with precisely the same meaning as your keyword.

Depending on the content, using a variety of these match types can help you attract the visitors you are planning to target. The critical aspect of ongoing work is in checking in on what searches are triggering the ads, and ensuring any irrelevant searches are added as negative keywords so further budget is not wasted on irrelevant clicks.

Write engaging ad copy with a call to action

Think about the main reason you are using digital marketing for your charity - for conversions and to raise awareness! These include driving traffic, increasing newsletter sign-ups, encouraging donations and volunteer registrations to name a few. None of this can be achieved without engaging site content and a clear call to action. Not everyone will know about your organisation, so your language must speak to those who need to know more. When you create your ads, ensure that you are giving the visitor enough information about your charity’s objective and why they should care enough to click to find out more, using your relevant keywords to support it.

This is when headlines and descriptions come into play. Headlines are generally the first thing the user will notice when looking at your ad, so ensure that you provide a concise and impactful introduction to your message, that reiterates the keywords of the Ad Group and so the relevance of your ad to the search. Support it further with an attention-grabbing description that provides more information and entices the click. Use all 15 headlines and all 4 descriptions to explain the purpose of the Ad Group you are advertising, as well as your company’s goal and drive. Failure to create compelling content can result in a lack of clicks and ultimately, low conversions.

Direct users to the targeted landing page

If your ads do not take your visitors to the correct landing page, you can expect a high bounce rate and a quick drop in interest. Sometimes your Ad Groups will require you to direct the traffic to your homepage, but other times when you are talking about something more specific, such as why you need volunteers, make sure you are sending the visitors to the relevant content, ie./volunteering-with-us. Directing your visitors to a landing page that isn’t especially relevant to the search term that triggered the ad will limit both your visibility and your conversions as the content will not provide the necessary information indicated by the ad. When you point an ad to the right landing page, you are more likely to see conversion rates increase, bounce rates drop and improved visibility, as Google perceives your ads to be of good quality (and ultimately, users are their priority, so knowing that they’ll have a good user experience is key!)

Optimise your Ad Groups

Ad type table

You want your ads to be of the highest quality because you are competing with a multitude of other organisations, and ultimately, it’s competition to the top! To ensure your ads are optimised effectively, carry out the following:

  • Write engaging ad copy in title case
  • Include ad extensions with at least four sitelinks per Ad Group
  • Ensure you reflect your keywords in both the headlines and descriptions of your ad copy
  • Work to achieve an “excellent” status on your ad strength
  • Add images, business name and logo to showcase your organisation and boost your credibility
  • Point your ad to the most relevant landing page
  • Add negative keywords to your Ad Group to exclude searches that you do not want your ads to appear for
  • Work on Google’s recommendations to get as close to 100% as possible (do be careful with some recommendations as they are not specifically tailored to Ad Grants and so some may not be relevant).

Track your metrics and conversions

In order to be compliant, it is essential that you measure ‘meaningful conversions’. The best way of doing this is by importing GA4 data that has been set up to measure things like donations, downloads, sign-ups, clicks to call and email, and so on; anything that shows good engagement with the charity’s site. Google Ad metrics can also provide valuable insights into what is doing well and makes it quite obvious when data drops so you can be reactive in fixing any issues.

Monitoring metrics such as your clicks, impressions and click-through rates helps you analyse the overall performance of your ads, and how effective it is in reaching your target audience. In addition to this, you can assess your cost-per-click data and cost-per-conversion to control your budget. Budgets can be assigned for each Campaign or as a shared budget across Campaigns. They are set as a daily ad spend, so $329/day. If you are not using your full $10,000 each month, you can adjust your spending by increasing the budget to a Campaign that you would like to spend more on, in order to appear more visible in Google. For example, if your Campaign is doing well in a particular season, you could increase the Campaign’s daily spend to maximise the conversions you could get.

You can also change your bid strategy type, dependent on whether you would like to focus on maximising clicks or conversions. It is advised that you keep a close eye on the data provided to gain a better understanding of how your account is performing and get to grips with the “why” if something does not appear right.

How digital marketing professionals can help

On top of so many other requirements and responsibilities in your nonprofit organisation, it is not always possible to manage a Google Ad Grant account. Where possible and affordable it can be ideal to acquire a digital marketing professional or digital marketing agency to look after the account for you. Google Ad Grants are not the same as Google Ad accounts, so when looking for a professional, ensure they have experience specifically working with charities on their Google Ad Grant accounts. Hiring someone with professional expertise in this area can help make an incredible impact on the performance of your ads, and aid in driving meaningful conversions by working on the following:

  • Strategic planning: a digital marketing professional can develop a strategic plan to leverage the Ad Grant in alignment with your organisation’s goals.
  • Keyword research: they will be able to spend more time conducting thorough keyword research to see what keywords perform well, and what keywords your competitors are appearing for, finding ways to rival this.
  • Regular optimisation: regular monitoring and optimisation of the Campaigns are essential. A professional digital marketer can monitor and analyse the actions that align with your goals, such as donations and calls.

Do you need help with your Google Ad Grant?

Beyond Your Brand is a proud Google Partner, specialising in high-quality digital marketing for charities. We take pride in building brand awareness and helping organisations grow.

We can offer help with:

  • Google Ad Grant Management - getting the most out of your $10,000 monthly ad spend.
  • Online fundraising campaigns
  • Google Analytics and tracking
  • Social media

To push your organisation to reach new heights with digital marketing, contact us.

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