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Guide to Google Adwords charity grants


As digital marketers, we know the potential in Google as a marketing platform. We work on a daily basis to improve exposure on search engines for not only for our clients, but for our own businesses…practicing what we preach.

The real value in Google is not only that it equates to over 80% of all digital search traffic, but it is that those using it to search for a product or service, are directly interested in the results. Relevant search results lead to a high click through rate with consumers looking to buy, learn or read what the site has on offer – increasing their digital experience and leading to higher conversion rates online. This is has been a game changer in the marketing industry, with many traditional methods perceived as a nuisance by those it had targeted as potential customers in the first place.

For charities, Google are now offering grants towards PPC (Pay per click) marketing campaigns worth $10,000 per month, to use on their Adwords advertising platform. Ok this is in $$Dollars, but a simple conversion tells us that this is a whopping £6,470 every month, for free! The benefits of such a grant are potentially huge for charities and could equate to an additional 500+ targeted site visitors a day. Imagine what you could do with new visitors who are actively involved in donating, campaigning, looking for charity work or volunteering.

What does it take to be involved?

Well the Google criteria is fairly wide and is not limited by size. This offers a great opportunity to any registered charity looking to increase their exposure and donations. Let’s take a look at how to get started.

Getting Started

Firstly, Google requires all applicant charities to be registered as such, that includes UK charities. They are not required to accept all applications and some political aspects may be considered as well, but refusal is unusual for genuine cases. The application process will require some basic form filing and submitting what the grant would mean for the charity and how it could benefit the causes they are involved in. Bear in mind, the process is not a fast one (as with anything that is free) so allow 3-4 months for a decision.

Google has calculated the $10,000 value as $330 per day and the charity will need to create sample campaigns to demonstrate their understanding of Adwords and that they will then see value from the grant. A campaign will need to show evidence that the grant is being used appropriately and efficiently, with any signs suggesting ineffectual use seeing them rejected. The most effective method to ensure a successful Google Adwords campaign using a Google Charity Grant, is to enlist PPC experts to support you along the way.

At Capsicum Technologies, we offer to help charities submit their applications Pro Bono

Once everything has been successful with the application process, Google will provide the charity with everything they need to get started. This can be quite overwhelming to those without digital marketing experience, but it is well worth a read to try to understand the basics. Your ads will feature in the Adword advertising platform and appear in the traditional positions for Google Ads, be that the top of the page, in the right hand sidebar or at the base of the listings.

There guidelines from Google on the type of ads that can be used, the maximum bid available per ad (currently $1) and the locations available for the ads. For full guidelines, take a look at the Full guidelines on Google Adwords grants.

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The Google Adwords grant is no doubt an easy decision for charities to make, but it gets better…

Google also offers a gigantic $40,000 PER MONTH grant to charities that are running successful adword campaigns with their initial $10,000 grants. That equates to £25,880 per month in digital marketing budget, just by using the original grant effectively.

What equates to a successful campaign to qualify for an increased budget?

Well a successful campaign is one that has added $9.5 in value in any 2 months from 12. This is a big number, but it is achievable by a skilled PPC team, usually within the first 6 months of a campaign. The charity will also be required to be tracking conversions, using a platform like Google Analytics (but not limited to) AND have someone from the charity pass an online exam and submit a new application. Fear not, Capsicum Technologies will again be on hand Pro Bono to help charities through this stage of the process to ensure the most effective results are achieved.

It is absolutely essential to follow the Google guidelines and rules at every step of the process or charities risk losing their grants. Their grant offer is a fantastic one, but all charities must play by the Google rules, it’s just the way it is. Losing $40k a month is not something any charity wants to go through. Always look for the best advice available to you throughout any campaign.

The goal with Google Adwords is to rank as high up the front page as possible and above your competitors…this can be judged as a successful campaign. In order to do that, Google calculates value based on two things (remember that the maximum bid value is $1):

Bid Amount x Quality Score (QS)

Google always keep their cards close to their chest, so no-one truly knows how they calculate a quality score, but we can predict using some digital marketing common sense:

Important factors for determining QS may include:

  • CTR (click Through Rate), This is a percentage of how often your ad will be clicked when seen in search results online. An effective ad should be looking at 3%+ for charities.
  • The text used within the ad will need to be relevant to the search term and the landing page the ad leads to.
  • Users who land on your landing page (the URL of a page assigned to the ad link) and then ‘bounce’ from your site and research for their query. This effectively means your site has failed to offer what your ad has suggested and the user needs another solution.
  • The effective history of the Google Adwords account – Has it been used efficiently and effectively with its past campaigns.

How do we optimise our ‘Landing Page’ for adwords?

Although PPC is a different digital marketing technique to SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) it also requires very similar skills and techniques in order to be successful. Google is extremely clever and has spent many years perfecting its algorithms to ensure that its search service is as optimised as possible.

What does this mean?

Well Google wants everyone using them to search online, to find what they need, to give them the best answers to their queries or put them in front of the right products.

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How does it do this?

Well it learns about web pages prior to ‘ranking’ them and positioning them where they think they deserve to be based on the information they have to offer. It looks for keywords, content based on those subjects and the quality of the site, can it fulfill the users needs or is it broken? etc

What do we need to do?

Well across the board, you site must be relevant to your subject matter and provide sufficient information and resources for users to make the best use of. If Google can successfully navigate your site and learn about what it is about, then it will most likely be happy to send searchers to it, although in most cases it takes its time to make sure you are sticking around.

How do we ensure our ‘Landing Page’ is suitable?

Well your PPC campaign is only as good as your site. Your ads may well send plenty of users to your site, but if the place they land after clicking the link does not fulfill their requirement, they will move on. This harms your Quality Score and can cost you up to $1 for the privilege. To get your landing page suitable, it must be relevant, ideally with a clear CTA (Call to action) for the user, be that a ‘Donate’ button or a ‘Read more about leaving a legacy gift’. Always seek experienced SEO support and allow them to work with your developers to create the most effective landing page and to optimise your site for SEO in general. It is best to keep Google happy where ever possible.

Do we need specific landing pages?

In most cases, yes you should consider having specific landing pages designed in line with SEO advice, offering the best conversion optimisation of the page and consider A/B testing to get to the most effective layouts, colours and CTA’s possible. Small outlays along the way are essential to get to the most effective campaign, with the rewards outweighing any initial costs and running costs the charity may incur.

Efficient Adword Campaigns

As with most Adwords campaigns, there is a risk that they will not be optimum enough and the spread of keywords will be too wide. This will see searchers landing on your page when they are not specifically looking to do so and do not have an interest in being there = high bounce rate, lower QS and a decline in effective ads. Every campaign will see keywords or ads that are not doing what they should and as long as these are monitored and removed/updated as soon as possible, the effects can be reduced or removed completely. Adwords campaigns that are left un-monitored, will not be successful.

Focus on what you do and what your likely advocates will be searching for!

It’s as simple as it sounds, so try to think like your target market and how they will use Google to land on content they are interested in. Take a look at some examples below:

  1. How do you help, and what services are available, to beneficiaries? It is and essential part of your website and digital marketing activities as a whole, but it will form a base for your Adwords as well. Educating those with concerns, needing support, suffering or looking for guidance within your charitable sector. Digital content needs to be effective with its direction, ie A Cancer charity may have beneficiaries looking to read up how your charity can help them with the support they need or looking for events or those in a similar position to them. Your content, blogs, news, can all offer some answers and support.
  2. Give more details on the beneficiaries for those looking to provide support and fundraise. By sharing the work that is being done with specific examples and case studies, it allows users to engage and connect with the work your charity is doing, increasing the likelihood of a conversion.
  3. Using Adwords to promote upcoming events is a great way of increasing footfall of fundraisers or even growing the funding pot based on exposure of what is happening and why. For large scale events, such as nationwide activities, can be extremely difficult to get results with the $1 maximum bid, so for anything such as the London Marathon, consider a paid Adwords campaign using the same marketing team that understand your needs.
  4. Advocacy Campaigning functions. The media may be covering topics that are of huge benefit to your charity and its activities in that area, possibly lobbying for governmental change. This will lead to an increase in online search and a targeted ad campaign here can bring an increase in results, so always be prepared to be dynamic.
  5. Always be relevant with keyword queries. With the $1 bid limit always limiting the overall impact of your ads, you can still get donations with great targeted ad configurations. If you are a military charity, dedicated to helping veterans, then rather than looking at ‘military charity’ you may consider ‘military veterans charity’, reducing your exposure and impressions but increasing on the quality of the clicks and the likelihood of a conversion.
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What should we do once we are up and running?

The most important thing to do is to not leave your ads un-monitored. If you are using an external agency, make sure you have a reporting system in place with them and have a deal in place that allows for regular maintenance, this will result in ROI. Ads should be tested for short periods across groups of ads and keywords, with bad performing ads dropped and new ones created, whilst most budget can be pushed to areas of success.

Analytics are wonderful and tell a story to a digital marketer about users behaviour and how that directly affects the performance of your digital marketing strategy, and most importantly, your Adwords. Understanding Analytics is an art in itself, but experienced marketers will be able to report back easy to understand and highly valuable data that will become essential for your charity and hopefully lead to an increase to the higher grant, £25,880 PER MONTH!

If you would like a free, no obligation, consultation on your digital marketing activities, SEO, PPC and more importantly, your Google Adwords grant application, then we are here to help. We are experienced digital growth experts, actively working with charities across various mediums and subject areas, including PPC, SEO, Web Development, Digital legacy donations and legacy gifting. For more information, you can Contact Us.