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7 Essential Strategies for Maximizing Google AdWords Grants

Does your nonprofit utilize Google AdWords to drive traffic to your site, increase donations, and promote your cause? With Google Grants, your organization can receive $10,000 to spend on Google Ads every month. Those funds can result in a major boost to your marketing efforts if used effectively! 

Unfortunately, many nonprofits receiving Google Ad Grants simply aren't making the most of their grant money.

Why? In most cases, these organizations just don't have the experience or expertise needed to supercharge their AdWords strategies, leaving them with money left on the table or spending money on tactics that don't deliver a positive ROI. 

To help your nonprofit achieve more through your Google AdWords account, we've got 7 clear strategies you can rely on:

  1. Set goals for your Google Grant account.
  2. Create a strategic keyword list for your Google Grant account.
  3. Target your Google AdWords ads to specific landing pages.
  4. Test different versions of your Google AdWords ads.
  5. Utilize geotargeting within your Google Grants account.
  6. Optimize your Google AdWords ad copy.
  7. Work with a consultant to develop a Google Grant account strategy.

With these tips in mind, you'll be better equipped to use your Google Grant money—and use it well!

Before we jump in, make sure you're well-versed in the basics of Google Grant management. If you're still shaky on what successful AdWords management looks like, read our full guide first! Then, you'll be ready to learn the best ways to take your knowledge of Google Grants to the next level.

Set goals for your Google grant account!

1. Set goals for your Google Grant account.

As you get started with your AdWords account, one of the first steps will be developing your ad campaigns as well as the associated ad groups and keywords for each one.

Rather than creating one general campaign and ad group, be strategic and set up multiple campaigns based around the different goals of your organization.

For example, a community development nonprofit might have ongoing projects related to housing, children's after school programs, and adult education. As this organization puts together its Google Grant account strategy, they might create campaigns related to each of those categories to target distinct audiences and promote specific initiatives.

If you don't know where to start or have a wide range of projects at your nonprofit, consider choosing only a few key areas to devote all of your AdWords funding to building up those projects. For instance, if you're trying to expand or jumpstart a new program, you might want to devote more of your AdWords strategy to developing those initiatives while your general marketing budget goes to ongoing support of other, more stable efforts.

You should also set up clear ad groups that correspond to various goals within the campaign, such as:

  • Financial donations.
  • Volunteer support.
  • Advocacy initiatives.
  • A downloadable educational resource.
  • Events or ongoing peer-to-peer fundraising.

By being forward-thinking with your AdWords goals, you can create ads that correspond to your objectives as a nonprofit. 

Create a strategic keyword list for your Google grant account.

2. Create a strategic keyword list for your Google Grant account.

Beyond your campaigns and ad groups, your nonprofit will be responsible for selecting keywords that your ads will target.

There are some limitations on the keywords you can choose, including a $2.00 maximum bid amount per keyword. That means that you'll be unable to choose exceptionally high-traffic keywords because you'll be outbid by businesses without the constraints of Google Grants. 

For example, a nonprofit clothing store might want to include generic keywords like "online consignment shop," but will almost certainly be outbid by for-profit stores advertising for the same audience, as you can see in the Google search below:

In this example, see how keyword choice can affect your Google AdWords potential.

Google will provide a suggested bid amount for each keyword so you'll have a general idea of which keywords are in the realm of possibility.

In addition to abiding by Google's restrictions, for best results you should also optimize your keyword list by choosing terms that are:

  • Relevant to your cause. Not only will Google shut down any terms that aren't related to your site, but using misleading terms will also confuse users and result in fewer conversions.
  • Varied so that you capture as many potential supporters as possible. Consider variations of your keywords or use the Google Keywords Tool to see what synonyms, alternate spellings, and phrases are most popular.
  • High quality according to Google's Quality Score column in your account's Keywords tab. This score can give you an idea of how likely your keywords are to perform well on a scale of 1-10, so aim to fill your list with only keywords scoring a 5 or higher.

It's important to view your keyword approach in conjunction with the rest of your nonprofit strategy. If you're not sure how your Google Grant fits in with the rest of your fundraising and marketing efforts, it may be time to seek the help of an experienced cross-functional nonprofit consultant—more on that in Section 7!

Target your Google Adwords ads to specific landing pages.

3. Target your Google AdWords ads to specific landing pages.

Ads that drive users to your homepage are great for broadly educating potential supporters about your nonprofit, but unfortunately, a homepage link won't usually inspire users to do much more than click around, learn a little bit, and then abandon your website altogether. 

A better strategy is to drive users to a specific landing page on your website that lines up with their search query. That way, their question (or interest) is addressed as soon as they land on your site, and they don't have to figure out the best next steps to take all on their own.

For example, let's say your nonprofit is an animal shelter targeting the keywords "adopt a dog." Rather than driving traffic to your homepage, which likely has links to your adoption pages as well as many other resources and content, you should send users directly to the most relevant page on your website—in this case, likely a page with information on dogs currently available for adoption.

Another way to direct users to the right landing page is to include sitelink extensions within your ad. Sitelink extensions are additional links underneath your main ad copy that drive traffic to subsets of your site. 

Here's an example of how the ASPCA uses extensions to send searchers to different areas of their site:

The ASPCA uses Google AdWords sitelink extensions to drive users to complete different goals on their site.

Notice how each sitelink goes to a landing page that corresponds to a different goal. That way, you give users options for how they engage with your organization right off the bat!

But don't forget—targeted ads won't go very far if you don't have high-quality landing pages to back them up. Make sure you're creating website content that's optimized both for search and user experience. (Hint: a web consultant can help you get your landing pages in tip-top shape!)

Test different versions of your Google Adwords ads.

4. Test different versions of your Google AdWords ads.

As part of your AdWords account maintenance, you should continually check how your ads are performing in order to find ways to improve your Google Grant strategy.

One easy way to test the effectiveness of your ad copy is to create multiple versions of the same ad and test their performance against one another. You can do this by enabling Experiments within your Google AdWords account and setting up a split campaign, a tool that allows you to run two (or more) ad versions to different percentages of your audience.

You can use the split test (or A/B test) experiment to see how any of the following elements affect your ad's performance:

  • Landing page.
  • Call-to-action.
  • Language.
  • Ad schedule (time of day).
  • Keywords or negative keywords.

And more! With this strategy, you can truly fine-tune your ads to the fullest extent.

As you're creating different ad variations, make sure you're running each one through Google's Ad Preview Tool. This feature (found in the Tools tab of your account) allows you to quickly see how your ads display on a Google search. You can even view your ads in different geographic locations or languages to make sure they're exactly as you want them for all potential viewers.

Utilize geotargeting within your Google grants account.

5. Utilize geotargeting witHin your Google Grants account.

A new requirement for all nonprofits participating in AdWords Grants, geotargeting allows you to concentrate your ads to a specific geographic location.

Since Google has made geotargeted ads mandatory, geotargeting isn't much of a strategy in and of itself. However, knowing how to most effectively geotarget your ads can play a major role in your AdWords success!

Setting a target geographic area for your ads is just the first step. Once you've got that covered, you might also consider bidding on location-specific keywords, which are less competitive (and therefore, expensive) than broad keywords.

For example, if your organization is a wildlife sanctuary located in Florida, you might already have terms like "exotic bird sanctuary" or "wildlife rescue" in your keyword list, but what about adding search terms like "wildlife rescue Miami" or "wildlife volunteer programs Florida"?

Keep in mind that geotargeting is particularly beneficial when your ads relate to location-based programs or campaigns, such as:

  • Fundraising events or in-person programs at your organization.
  • Volunteer opportunities taking place in your location.
  • Educational resources specific to your location (such as a guide to Florida wildlife, if we continued our example above).

Remember: the more specific your ads, the more likely you are to drive highly qualified traffic! Just make sure these keywords aren't too niche, as the downside of specificity is potentially limiting broader searches. 

You should still rely on Google's Keyword tool and continually test your geotargeted ads to ensure they're performing well. If not, you may need to expand or shrink your target location.

Optimize your Google Adwords ad copy.

6. Optimize your Google AdWords ad copy.

So far, we've given you plenty of tips for optimizing your AdWords strategy, but what about the ads themselves?

Since your ads are the crux of your AdWords success, it's vital that you put some thought into the ad copy you write. So what makes a good Google ad?

To write the best ad copy for your nonprofit, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does your ad effectively answer the user's search query? Make sure your ad is immediately relevant to the keywords a user would be searching for, and that your ad responds to the interest they have or the question they're posing.
  • Does your ad copy contain a clear call-to-action? Your ad should inspire a reader to do something, whether it's learning more about a topic or contributing to the cause directly.
  • Is your ad copy simple and straightforward? Now's not the time to flex your thesaurus skills! Your ad should be easy to read (or scan) for readers of all ages and education levels, and your tone of voice should be friendly and clear. 
  • Does your ad copy include keyword variations? Include terms that are similar or related to your target keywords to re-emphasize how the user's search relates to your landing page.

Keep in mind that the audience for these ads is typically not existing supporters. (After all, your current donors and volunteers have already become familiar with your website!) Instead, your ad viewers are often brand new prospects who are interacting with your organization for the very first time.

Make sure your ad copy is informative and personable so that these users feel interested in getting to know your nonprofit! 

Though it's usually a good idea to include sitelink extensions that link to your donation form, peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, or volunteer sign-up page, it's equally important that you include links to download educational resources or view relevant on-site content before asking the user to pull out their wallet or get involved right away. 

Work with a consultant to develop a Google grant account strategy.

7. Work with a consultant to develop a Google Grant account strategy.

We know that all of the tips above (plus all the other important tasks your nonprofit has to get to on a daily basis) might have your head swimming. But don't worry—developing and implementing a stellar Google Ad Grant strategy doesn't have to be your full-time job! You might just need a little help along the way.

Luckily, there are qualified Google Grant management consultants who can help you outline an AdWords approach that fits in perfectly with the rest of your fundraising and online marketing strategy.

Your Google AdWords consultant can help you:

  • Assess your nonprofit's fundraising and outreach goals.
  • Apply for a Google Grant (if you haven't already set up your account). 
  • Develop a Google AdWords keyword strategy.
  • Write (and test) ad copy for optimum impressions and clicks.
  • Conduct Google AdWords reports and interpret the data for your team.
  • Maintain your account each month in accordance with Google policies.

Most importantly, your Google Grant management consultant can help you analyze your strategy and find ways to improve your approach so that you're getting the most return on your monthly grant funding. 

With so many other important efforts to keep track of at your organization, you probably don't have the time or energy to become a Google AdWords expert. But that doesn't mean you can't have an expert-level strategy! Get started with an experienced Google Grant consultant and see how your Google ads can impact your nonprofit (minus the stress).


There are a million ways to spend your Google Grant money each month, but these 7 strategies should give you a starting point for making the most of your $10,000. 

Find out more ways to improve your online marketing and fundraising strategies by reading these additional resources:

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