Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising on search engines such as Google and Bing can be a great way to drive traffic to your website in order to obtain more enquiries. However, as the name suggests, it comes at a cost – for every visitor you receive as a result of one of your adverts, a small fee must be paid to the search engine.
For non-profit and charity organisations, this may sound a bit daunting. While ‘sales’ may not be your focus, securing donations and volunteers certainly will be. However, with marketing budgets already likely to be stretched thin over a variety of areas, advertising on search engines as well may not seem entirely feasible.
Fortunately, Google offers a solution to charities in the form of Google Grants: a scheme that has been running for 10 years and that offers charities up to $10,000 (c. £6,600)* of advertising spend per month for absolutely free! So if you’re a charity with a website and are not currently enrolled on the programme, you could be missing out.
While I’d like to say “there is no catch” (and there isn’t really), there are certain rules that Google Grants advertisers must adhere to, as well as a few restrictions compared to ordinary Google AdWords accounts. These include:
- You must have a website, and your ads must link to a page or pages on that site
- The keywords that you target must be relevant to your charity and its offering
- Your website cannot display revenue-generating ads, such as Google AdSense or affiliate advertising links
- The on-going management of your advertising campaign is your organisation’s responsibility once your account is active
- A maximum monthly budget of $10,000 (c. £6,600)* per month, which is the equivalent of a daily budget of $330 (c. £220)*
- A maximum cost-per-click (CPC) limit of $2.00 (c. £1.33)*
- You can only run keyword-targeted campaigns
- You can only appear on Google.co.uk, though you can still target multiple countries and languages
- You can only run text ads – in other words, no image or video ads
- A representative from your organisation must act as an “account contact”. The individual “must be responsive to email requests” from Google, and log in to their account “at least once per quarter to review campaign performance and make updates” (source)
* Please note: $ to £ conversions based on the current exchange rate at the time of publication.
Setup help: Even though checking in on your ads once every quarter is not a big ask, the initial setup and creation of the relevant AdWords campaigns, ad groups, ads and keywords can be a big job. Fortunately, Google gives its blessing for grant recipients to work with search engine marketing companies should they require a helping hand.
These companies can help in two ways:
Account management: we’ve previously blogged about the benefits of outsourcing PPC – more than anything this would give you a chance to concentrate on other areas of marketing and advertising without having to worry about making on-going changes and updates to your AdWords account.
Training: if you’re somebody who prefers to make changes yourself but simply isn’t familiar with the workings of Google AdWords, PPC training tailored specifically to the running of a Google Grants-configured AdWords account will ensure that you’re able to manage the account efficiently and effectively.
While PPC is an effective form of advertising, especially when Google Grants is providing the budget, not all searchers click on these ads. Indeed, organic listings (influenced by Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO) can account for over 75% of clicks from the search engine result pages (SERPs).
It’s important, then, that if you really want to conquer the search engines, you should also consider making SEO improvements to your site. Doing so could mean maximising your website’s chances of appearing in both the organic (SEO) and ad (PPC) sections of the search results, increasing the chances of potential donors and volunteers landing on your website.
Don’t forget too that SEO and PPC activity doesn’t just have to focus on targeting people searching for your organisation’s name (also known as branded searches). Depending on what your charity offers, you might be able to also target people looking for general donation and volunteering information that isn’t necessarily specific to your organisation; providing you with a great opportunity to make sure you’re the charity that searchers find and end up helping.