How to Use Google Ads in 2019 to Power Up Your Nonprofit

March 14, 2019
8 minutes

You have a pretty good website, you do some email marketing, so you might be asking yourself, "Why do I need to do anything with Google Ads this year?" Fair enough. Our question to you is, "Do you currently have donors and supporters knocking down your doors?"

If not, you should listen when we say that $10,000 per month in Google Ads can bring in 5,000 new qualified website visitors each month, including potential donors, supporters, volunteers, and clients. We know what you're going to say next (and we can just picture your epic accompanying eyeroll): "We're a nonprofit; we don't have an extra $10K lying around!" To which we'll enthusiastically reply, "You don't need stacks o' cash when you can potentially qualify to get that amount fo' freeeeee each month."

Read on, good friends, read on.

Understand and Utilize the Differences Between the Google AdWords Networks

So, if you did have $10,000 to put toward Google Ads, how would you use it? Before we get into the big money talk, let's start with a couple of ideas for how to maximize your spend with Google Ads because all ads aren't created equal.

The first quarter of the new year is a great time to dedicate yourself to learning something new. This year, you should finally, really learn the difference between the Google Ad networks so you understand how to capitalize your marketing efforts on each network. As always, we're here to make it as simple as possible:

Search network: These are those text ads you see at the very top of the page every time you google something. This network allows you to place text ads within the search results that will appear at the very top of the page, right under the search bar, when someone types in the appropriate keywords.

Display network: Pictures! Nonprofit people know the value of pictures like no other industry, so this may be your jam. This network allows you to place display (graphic) ads across a wide network of sites—not on Google search results pages. Website owners make money by selling space on their sites to Google. Google places your ads on those spots, and then your ad is seen when your audience lands on those sites.

Google recommends that you use both networks for each of your campaigns, but in truth, you need to use each in specific ways.

For Search network ads, you gotta be superprecise when you choose your keywords so people can find you when they're in need of the exact thing you offer.

For Display network ads, it's a little opposite: your first task is to decide what kind of people you want to find. Because your ads are gonna interrupt them during their regular web browsing, your hope is to find an audience that's interested in what you offer even if they aren't actively searching for it. Target display ads based on context (Google-partnered sites related to your chosen keywords), behavior (your audience's browsing habits), or demographics (the actual person behind the keyboard).

To help get you started, below are some best practices when it comes to choosing the best keywords or keyword phrases as a nonprofit:

  • Choose keywords that relate to or describe your cause, or essentially explain why you exist. This allows individuals that share similar concerns to easily find you. Examples: "save the forests" or "helping the homeless"
  • Select keywords that explain the services your organization offers so individuals that are searching for those services can locate your org as a provider. Examples: "pro bono legal aid" or "how to adopt a pet"
  • Remember, you don't have to go it alone! You can consult with Facebook or LinkedIn groups, or online forums where other like-minded nonprofit leaders are discussing these important topics.
Illustrated ad on blue background.

Take Advantage of Remarketing

Let's break this down with a real world analogy. Compare remarketing to the following scenario:

A person walks into an animal shelter wondering about adopting a new furry member for their family. They do a little browsing and snuggle with a couple that have waggly tails, but ultimately decide not to go through with the adoption that day. They leave the shelter empty handed. Imagine if, periodically, you can set that shelter directly in front of them. Attract them with cute doggies in the window in case they're interested in returning for another snuggle. Remind them of their shelter experience and extend an invitation for them to return.

Remarketing is the digital version of the above scenario. Once someone visits your website, use the Google advertising network of websites and display remarketing ads to periodically remind them of their visit to your site and encourage them to come back for another look.

The advantage of remarketing is that you know someone was interested enough to visit your website. Chances are they may be continuing to browse for possible options, so you should definitely remind them that you're still a viable option.

Market Your Events with Google Ads

You may have noticed Funraise's exciting Events & Ticketing feature. Now that you can create online events and sell tickets, how are you gonna get the word out? We have a few ideas for you.

  • Take a few minutes to do some research to find the best keywords specific to your event.
  • Use bright, eye-catching images—something that'll grab your audience's attention even if it's a small ad. Choose simple but descriptive images, directly related to your event. Limit the amount of text you include on the ad image itself because you don't want to give out all the details in the ad, you just need to get that click on the ad.
  • Never, ever forget your CTA (Call To Action)! This should include a direct link to your event page so your supporters don't have to do any searching. Make it as easy as possible to find the info they need, and as quick as possible once they've decided to buy.

Apply for a Google Ads Grant

The #1 priority and probably first thing you should do in 2019 as a nonprofit is apply for the Google Ads Grant. What is that, you ask?

The Google Ad Grant is $10,000 of advertising money that Google gives to eligible nonprofits every month. Once you get approved, which can happen within a week, you can keep the grant as long as you maintain it and comply with Google's parameters. This literally works out to $120,000 a year in free ad spending! If managed correctly, the grant can bring upwards of 5,000 new, highly-targeted, and quality website visitors to your nonprofit’s website each month.

So, what are you waiting for? It's time to start leveraging the incredible power of Google Ads to boost your nonprofit's fundraising capacity.

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