Google Ads has a non-profits arm that distributes up to $329 worth of Google Ads spend a day to registered charities. The most recent client we helped with this was Arts Derbyshire, and so whilst it’s fresh in our minds, we are outlining the process for you here so you can get free ads money for your charity too!
The headline is that you get $329 a day for your charity. You never see this money of course, and it is “money” that is available to you as a budget in a Google Ads account that, although it’s less tangible than receiving ready cash for your charity, is a valuable way of helping you to drive traffic to your website to persuade website visitors to support your charity in other ways.
As well as campaigns aimed at driving people to your website to read about your activities or advertise your events to them, you can also set up donation campaigns. In this case, you might set up a donations campaign to ask for things that your charity needs. If you work for a charity that supports homeless people, you might have a regular callout for blankets and clothing – an ads campaign that is set up to capture these people and show them how they can get their donations to you would be really useful in this example.
We’ve outlined it here as simply as possible, but be warned there are lots of steps along the way where you will have to wait for something else to happen before you can proceed to the next step. So if you’re the one doing this, expect to be tied up with the task for a few weeks as you go through the whole process.
Once the budget is successfully claimed, you will have to set up the actual Google Ads account and the campaigns at the end of it. This is a specialist area where the right techniques, keywords and ads need to be written so you don’t waste your precious budget. If you are not confident in doing this, then consider hiring a professional to do it for you because it will save you money in the long run.
1. You need to sign up for a Google nonprofits account. This is essentially a “master” account that will control everything, including your Google Ads account. Ideally, you will set up a new account with a fresh Gmail that can be used for administering this whole process. If you already have something like Google Analytics set up, then don’t worry because you can hook up an existing Google Analytics account with a new Google Ads account if needs be.
Get started here and follow the on-screen prompts that are pretty straightforward: https://www.google.com/intl/en-GB/nonprofits/
2. Whilst you are going through this registration process you will be asked for your TechSoup token. This is a bit random at this point because you have no idea what a TechSoup token is! In a nutshell, you need to go and register your charity with Charity Digital Exchange and they will supply you with your tech token.
Again the process is lengthy but pretty straightforward, where you will set up an account and then add your charity (using your Charities Commission charity ID) to the account. You will need to also attach a copy of your letter from HMRC that confirms your charitable status to complete this part of the process.
At the end of this process, you will get a 22 character Validation Token that can be used for the following 60 days
3. Now you can put your TechSoup token into your Google nonprofits account application and proceed on with the process. At the end you will get a notification that you have been accepted as eligible for the Google for nonprofits programme and you will then be asked to ‘activate products’.
4. At this point you sign up first for a G Suite for Nonprofits account which is a free account that allows you to store files, run various email accounts and share information as an organisation through tools like Google Meet. An advantage is also that you can run your charity emails through Google through gmail, but – with a tag placed on your website – from your own domain name.
So for instance for our client Arts Derbyshire we were able to set up a series of firstname.lastname@example.org, admin@, <name>@artsderbyshire.org.uk emails that are free of charge for hosting within the gmail system, or that can by synched to your phone or desktop.
5. You will then be taken to verify the rest of the set up of your account through Google Admin Console. *After all this* you can then request activation of G Suite for Nonprofits.
6. You will also see an option to register for Google Ad Grants, so click ‘get started’ to get this process underway. The G Suite for Nonprofits request will have to have been verified first before you can get any further with this, so if you haven’t already been verified, wait for the confirmation email.
Answer all the questions on screen as part of your application and go through the training questionnaire before finally getting the chance to submit your application!
7. It takes about 3 days for verification of your application, most of which are successful. But when this happens, you aren’t done yet!
Now you need to accept your invitation to a payments profile and then you are free to sign up for a Google Ads account.
It is vitally important that you don’t add billing details to your Google Ads account at any point in this part of the process, even when you are explicitly prompted to by the interface. If you put billing details into your Google Ads account, $329 a day will be taken from your bank account.
8. Once you have successfully got your Google Ads account in place and you have followed all the instructions for filling out all the details, you can now go through the process of setting up campaigns.
How you set up the structure of your campaigns will vary according to what your charity does. For this example, we will imagine you are a charity that supports homeless people.
You will likely want to raise cash and will have mechanisms in place already for receiving donations. In this fictional example, you will also require volunteers to come and man your kitchens every weekend and for staffing the kitchens for your Christmas dinner schedule to feed people who are homeless over the festive period. As a regular part of the way you do business you will likely run regular fundraising events in a physical location as well as need a constant supply of clean blankets, shoes, clothing and toiletries.
Structurally, you want to make a campaign for each of the strands of activity.
So, with the above fictional example as our guide, we have four campaigns to set up:
If you take a list like the one above and remain mindful of the objectives of each of the campaigns as you are setting them up, you should be able to create campaigns and ad groups with matching keywords and adverts that are unique and highly focussed on the campaign in hand quite happily.
Be wary of broaching into other campaign areas whilst setting up campaigns, as you will effectively end up bidding against yourself and wasting money. To avoid this, ensure you don’t talk about donating blankets in the donating money campaign, and don’t mix up your fundraising event campaigns with your request for volunteers campaigns and so on.
Structurally, Google Ads starts with campaigns at the top under the account, and then underneath you create Ad Groups. The best way to grasp the concept of Ad Groups and choosing the correct structure for your campaigns is to look at the request for volunteers at this fictional charity’s physical kitchens as an example.
For your ‘request for volunteers’ campaign, you might have four physical locations where you open kitchens to feed homeless people. This means you would be best served with four Ad Groups that each focusses on the particular physical location in turn. In each Ad Group, all the keywords and the ad texts would concentrate on talking only about that location, so that people who are more physically located near to one of the kitchens as opposed to the others can look at the opportunity to get involved and sign up to help out.
The keywords in one Ad Group shouldn’t overlap with the keywords in another Ad Group so that one Ad Group doesn’t end up bidding against another. Once you have wrapped your head around this concept, the rest is pretty simple! You will set your ads live and off they go.
The only criteria to maintain your free Google Ads budget is that you keep the performance at certain levels. For instance, you will need to stay above an 8% click through rate which will require corrective action if you fail to meet this standard. So check in on your Google Ads campaign regularly to make sure it’s still matching with the basic requirements to continue to receive the grant.
Every now and again you might get emails about billing, and emails about how much value you have derived from Google Ads, so just file them and as forewarned earlier in this article, whatever you do *do not* fill out any billing details. Your Financial Director or Accountant might be interested in the information in these emails for accounting purposes, but since no physical money is changing hands there is no impact on your income and expenditure.
Due to the need to continue to maintain certain quality levels in the account, you will need to actively manage the account. It’s also a really valuable asset and so actively managing your Google Ads account is something you ought to be doing to get maximum benefit from your hard work in securing this funding so far.
Google Ads management is not easy once you are looking to get results from your campaigns and hone in on specific objectives, so whoever looks after your account will need to know what they are doing to make sure it continues to serve you well. You might consider hiring in a professional – like us! – to manage your account for you if you feel that the people in your organisation don’t have the skills set, or if you feel someone in your organisation would benefit from training, then invest in training (hey! We can do that too!) to keep the skills sets in-house for best costs-efficiencies.
We hope you found this guide useful. We’ve also put together some other articles on digital fundraising for charities that you might want to read:
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