Google Grants – Can You Use An Ad Grant?

Google grants are pretty great.  All those ads you see whenever you search for something? (Go ahead – google something – the listings up top in the shaded box and the listings on the sidebar – those are all paid ads.)  Google gives free ads (with a few conditions, but still) to their Ad Grantees…up to $10,000 per month!

Are you eligible?  Are you ready to maximize this powerful gift?

Google Ad Grants has their own website, where they lay all of this out very clearly.  They even have a video that explains the program.

But here are the basics:

  • You have to have current, valid 501c3 status (or whatever the equivalent is in your country).  There’s a little bit of a hiccup there – you have to not only have received your notification letter, you have to appear in the online database.  (If you’ve already waited the years that it currently takes for the IRS to approve non-controversial applications, this may seem unfair, to have to wait even longer…but it is what it is.)
  • You have to have a website with substantial content.  (This is one of their requirements…but you should also make sure that your definition of “substantial” means that you feel confident that the website represents you well.)
  • You can’t be a government entity, a hospital or medical group, or an educational entity.  (They’ve got a different program for educational institutions…)
  • What you’ll get: a daily budget of $329 USD in AdWords advertising, with maximum cost-per-click of $2.00.  Text only ads, keyword-targeted ads.  They have to promote mission based ads and keywords – e.g. “shop and fight cancer” instead of “buy gifts online”  They’ll help you strategize on how to meet their guidelines and your objectives.
  • To apply, go here and fill out the online application.

Here’s the bigger question.  SHOULD you apply?  How ready are you to take advantage of this particular gift-in-kind?  (Like every gift, it’s only useful if you can use it effectively to advance your mission.  Even a million dollar restricted gift might be more trouble than it’s worth, depending on the strings attached and what it unleashes.)

If you get the grant, you’ll be getting a budget to drive people from the web, searching for things that connect via keyword to your mission, to your website with a single click.  Here’s what you and your senior staff and/or board should be talking about:

  • Does your website make a good introduction to your organization?  If a total stranger were to ONLY know what’s on your website, would you be satisfied with their understanding of who you are?  Is there enough information, is it the right information, does the language feel good, does the design reflect how you feel about yourself, can people find specific information easily?
  • Take a dedicated look at the homepage, which will most likely be your landing page.  If they go no further and just see that single page, are you satisfied with that?
  • Who do you imagine as the person on the other end of the computer?  What are they searching for?  If you have a website, you are probably somewhat familiar with the term “SEO” – search engine optimization.  Start there for ideas and talk about what keyword searches you want your ads to pop up for.  Get into the head of that person – why did they type in that search?  What are they actually looking for?  Now extrapolate…why are you sure that what they really want is to see your website?!  What will that person do if they click through?  What emotions will you provoke for them?  What will they think about you after reading your website?
  • If someone clicks through, you’ve imagined their initial experience…what happens next?  That first phase is one goal: you’ve increased awareness of your organization in the general public.  It’s a very passive process for you.  Presumably, you have a second goal: Capture the folks who click through somehow, so that you can more actively connect with them, engage them directly.  How will you get them to give you their information or otherwise form an actual relationship with you?  Do they sign up for emails?  Do they subscribe to a blog feed or youtube channel or Facebook group?  Do they call you and talk about ongoing events and programs?
  • IS IT USEFUL TO REACH THE WHOLE INTERNET?  If you’re a very local group, you should be asking the question of whether it’s worth it to succeed.  Let’s say you are a breast cancer support group that only operates in two counties in Kansas.  What happens if you start getting web traffic from people with all sorts of cancer from all around the world, looking for support groups?  You get a major influx of emails with questions.  You start getting a couple of phone calls each day.  A few hundred people sign up for your newsletter, which bumps you to the next pay bracket with your email management provider.  So…part of this scenario analysis is a reminder that it’s critical to get the search terms specific enough to weed out some of the riffraff.  But you can hope for, and should certainly plan for, all the things that will happen when people click on your ads.  For some people, it’s more trouble than it’s worth, because you already have good ways to reach a small and specific audience. If you want to get your message out to as many people as possible, all over the world, these ads are extremely valuable.  Where does your organization land on that continuum?


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