4 things I wish I’d known about Google AdGrants

Google Ad Grants pin.png

One late fall day (a busy time of year at any nonprofit), when I was trying to prepare communications for our #GivingTuesday campaign, our grants manager emailed me instructions for getting my Gmail authorized on our new Google AdGrants account. She had submitted the application and was awarded they money… and now I would be responsible for creating the ads so they would actually be effective and track of all of the new Google Ads’ special terms for nonprofits.

But $10,000. $10K in in-kind advertising dollars! That big boost looked great on our grants budget line. But I was instantly confused and overwhelmed. How would I manage a $10,000 grant when I was already completely inundated with all the one-person communications department responsibilities I already had?

Below is a list of lessons I learned along the way, mostly consisting of stuff I wish I’d known before I began! Getting a Google AdGrant is the easy part. Managing it is a lot trickier.

  1. You probably won’t be able to use the full $10,000 every month. 
    Unless you’re a big national nonprofit, or maybe if you have a lot of staff time dedicated to managing your Google AdWords, then you won’t even get close to using your full $10,000 allocation in a month. For a short time, when I had our ads geotargeted at the whole United States, we used about $2,000 per month. Since my director decided that we should only advertise in our state, we are using only about $200 per month (and only because I’ve learned many techniques to better optimize our ads since then!)
  2. You can’t just hand the account over to the youngest, most tech-savvy person on staff and expect them to be successful.
    I’m used to managing email, social media, the website, etc. but this was not a platform where I could just log on and figure it out along the way. Online resources have been easier to find as time goes on, but the person in charge of managing the ads will need to actively seek those out in order to start spending a meaningful portion of the grant. I was embarrassed when, in order to avoid losing the grant, we hired a consultant to work with me every month to give me suggestions and teaching resources. Looking back, I might not have needed paid help if I had known where to find the free training and some good ebooks just for nonprofits, which brings me to number 3…
  3. You should start Google’s Academy for Ads training before you even apply.
    And you should probably start this training before you apply for the grant (and lose it) so you understand what you’re getting into. If I had known about this when I started, I would have had everything I needed to prepare myself instead of avoiding digging into the daunting task of learning Google AdWords on my own for a month until I received a warning we would lose our grant if I didn’t increase our click-through rate.
  4. All of your nonprofit’s the Google Ads campaigns you create have to fit specific requirements.
    And you can get the grant taken away if you don’t comply. The requirements change over time, so you’ll need to pay attention to any important email updates from Google and news surrounding the subject. You can find the exact requirements in Google’s policies, but I’m going to break them down:
  • Your overall account must have an average click-through rate of at least 5% every month.
  • You must use geotargetting (and of course you should!) for your service area.
  • Each campaign must have two ad groups and each ad group must have two ads.
  • Keywords must have a quality score of two or higher.
  • Ads should have at least two sitelink extensions.
  • One-word keywords are a no-go.