Updated: Aug 26, 2020
The $100k gift from Google - and why you should register!
When I first started looking into working in the non-profit sector, I was unaware of just how many great tools are available to charities and NGOs - either free or very affordably. While some might argue that the charity sector is somewhat late to the party when it comes to digital - with 40% of charities feeling like they are underperforming in digital marketing, according to the Charity Excellence Framework - there are certainly tools out there to help charities get on board.
Hello Google Ad Grants
I thought I'd investigate these sector-specific digital tools further, as it dawned on me that there is a real opportunity for me to help out the charities that I'm working with and develop my own skills at the same time. After merely scratching the surface, I found out about Google Grants, which gives charities access to a whopping $10,000 in free AdWords per month, up to $100,000 per year. All registered charities are eligible for a Google Grant, and it's really easy to register. You just have to watch a short video so that you understand what it is and why you should sign-up. Registration takes a few days to come through, but once it's done, you're all set.
Even though I'd managed an AdWords account before in a previous job, it had been a while, so I figured that this would be a good opportunity to re-engage myself with it - I saw this as an amazing opportunity to reacquaint myself with Google whilst helping a couple of charities at the same time! There are two charities with which I'm currently volunteering that will benefit from my AdWords refresh: Leeds Castle and Cricket Without Boundaries - Both are very different charities that have very different objectives. Leeds Castle is a beautiful 900 year-old national treasure house in Kent which relies on visitor trade, weddings, golf club memberships, events and donations to keep going. Cricket Without Boundaries is a global, volunteer-run organisation which works with partners around the world to grow the game of cricket, while using the sport as a platform for health education and social change. In terms of the set-up, Leeds Castle already had an AdWords account which could be edited, while CWB needed me to set it up from scratch.
5 reasons you should register for ad grants
1. We're entering our worst ever recession, and you're going to need all the help you can get
Every single penny is going to count for everyone in the foreseeable future. Therefore, the way in which you recruit donors and volunteers and the way in which people can find you and your cause will be really important. You need to take advantage of every tool that is available to you. Given that everyone is online nowadays, you need to ensure that you're fully-functioning online too. When used correctly, Google Ad Grants allows your organisation to be seen first, when people are searching for things related to your cause.
2. It's [practically] free
If someone were to offer you $100k in free advertising, you'd take it right? This is essentially what Google is doing for your charity. The only thing that isn't free is the time that you will need to invest in learning how to use it. Once you have learnt the skill of Google Ads though, it's with you forever and you can take it around with you to different organisations.
3. It's surprisingly simple to use
The Google Ads interface is pretty straightforward and self-explanatory when it comes to setting-up your ads. It takes you through the stages step-by-step and ensures that you have everything you need to push your ads live. I would urge caution, however, because the system itself is set-up for paid ads - the interface is no different for charities than for normal, paid search accounts. With this in mind, you need to be aware of all the rules that you need to follow so that you can set the right budget and don't go for the wrong types of campaign.
4. Even if you are struggling, there are loads of resources out there designed to help you
Just hopping on YouTube and doing a quick search will bring up lots of videos on how to get the best out of Google Ad Grants. I would recommend spending a bit more time, and a small amount of budget in an online course which will not only teach you how to use Google Ad Grants, but will give you some materials that will help you plan and structure your ads. I found this course on Udemy which is designed specifically for people working in the charity sector.
5. It's an amazing opportunity to upskill someone on your team
As I mentioned, this is a free tool, but it definitely requires someone who is dedicated to constantly updating the account. This is a great opportunity for one of your team members to learn a new skill which will be very valuable to the organisation, but also to their own CV. Training can be really affordable and it's an important responsibility for someone who wants to step up.
For further tools and resources...
Take a look at the links below, these sites are also dedicated to helping charities make the most out of digital marketing.
Charity Digital exists to help charities 'be more digital'. It also offer a suite of digital products to help facilitate digital communications within the sector and has a jobs board so organisations can find the best digital talent.
This is where I found the course about Google Ad Grants, and it also has loads of free tools if you sign-up for updates. They focus on digital training and upskilling and connecting digital experts so they can network and share best practise.
This is a membership organisation for charity communications professionals. It champions best practice across the charity sector with a peer-to-peer sharing network. I'm a huge believer in using networks to improve your own skills but, more importantly help other people. Successful networking is 99% down to what you have to offer someone else. You will eventually get back what you give.