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July 15, 2013

Google Grants: Helping Nonprofits Market Online

Author: Valerie Baker

Running a nonprofit organization is a lot like running a for-profit business. Oftentimes, details of duties, expenses, and day-to-day operations overlap when comparing the two. That being said, there’s a question that’s often asked: should nonprofits aim to operate more like a for-profit organization?

This question presents an opportunity for discussion among nonprofit organizations in Southwest Florida and all over the country. Recently, it was the subject of an article written by Andrea Rumbaugh, a reporter for The News-Press. There are certain aspects of running a nonprofit organization that differ from those of a for-profit business. For example, while a for-profit business may set a goal of x revenue, a nonprofit organization may set a goal of helping so many families per quarter (varies on the nature of the nonprofit).

However, it’s important to note that while the goals themselves are different, they are still goals. That being said, I wholeheartedly agree with Dan Regelski, director of FGCU’s Small Business Development Center: “nonprofits need to have goals, show results, and meet milestones.

Increasing Awareness for Local Nonprofits

The same can be said for nonprofit organizations and their marketing. For a nonprofit to receive donations or to simply increase awareness among community members, there needs to be some plan of action for marketing.

More and more nonprofits are looking to get their messages out there – whether it’s through events, word-of-mouth, or any other form of advertising. And just like for-profit businesses, it’s crucial to see a return-on-investment and know which marketing activities are working and which aren’t.

Free Advertising Through Google

One of the most effective ways to market online is through Google AdWords. I talk about this a lot – I’m sorry :). It works extremely well, is measurable, and reaches all organizations’ targets (for profit or not-for-profit) EXACTLY at the moment when they’re searching for you or the problem your organization solves. We recommend this to most (if not, all) of our clients and is one of the least expensive and most effective ways to reach potential donors, volunteers, or participants (or customers if you’re looking it at from a for-profit perspective).

Google Grants, the nonprofit edition of Google AdWords, provides nonprofit organizations with $10,000 (yes, ten thousand dollars) per month for advertising services. To be eligible to receive this grant, Google puts forth a list of requirements (one of my favorite resources, The Search Engine Journal, also put together an awesome compilation of the Google Grants rules and guidelines).

  1. The organization must hold a current and valid charity status (meaning US organizations must have a current 501(c)(3) status).
  2. The organization must acknowledge and agree to the terms of use.
  3. The organization must have a functioning website with substantial content.

In addition, there are specific rules for operating campaigns within the Google Grants program:

  • Daily budget must be set to $329 ($10,000 per month).
  • Maximum cost-per-click limit of $2.00.
  • Keyword-targeted campaigns only.
  • Appear only on
  • Run text ads only.

While it may seem like a long list of restrictions, in actuality, they don’t do much to limit a campaign.

How Can A Nonprofit Advertise Online?

Part of the beauty of using AdWords for online advertising is the ability to target users by their location and the exact keywords they’re searching for. For example, one of our clients, Pickup the Ball, Inc. was recently approved and has started using Google Grants. Through targeting keywords such as “programs for youth” and “community youth program.” This means that those people who search for those keywords (among others) will see an ad for Pickup the Ball, and the cost will be 100% funded by Google.

Google Grants for nonprofit organizations provides an amazing opportunity for these organizations to benefit from the value that comes with free advertising. Similar to any other business, it’s important to get your message and goals out to the right people. And with Google AdWords for Nonprofits, it’s now easier than ever.

Valerie Baker

Valerie is the Support Lead here at Atilus. Her background includes digital marketing and web development. She takes amazing care of our clients and assists with overall website updates and development.

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