Is the Ad Grant Worth It?

Are you trying to decide whether the Google Ad Grant is worth is then here are a few considerations for your cause.

Ad Grant - Is it worth it. Photo includes a woman looking extremely confused at her laptop, presumably after hitting an issue with her Google Ad Grant account

In the digital age, non-profit organisations have embraced various online marketing strategies to achieve their objectives, from raising awareness to soliciting donations.

One such opportunity is the Google Ad Grant, which provides eligible non-profits with up to $10,000 per month in advertising credit to use on Google Ads.

While this grant seems enticing, it is essential for non-profit organisations to critically evaluate whether the Google Ad Grant is worth it, considering their size, available resources, potential objectives, and the overall return on investment (ROI) it may generate.

Here at Digital Ninjas, we believe the Ad Grant should form a critical part of your marketing, communications and fundraising mix. However, it’s important to understand what you can achieve with the Ad Grant and what it might not be so good at. This way you can include other channel activity to grow your overall result and spread risk.

The Google Ad Grant, launched by Google in 2003, aims to empower non-profit organisations to reach a broader audience by running ads on Google’s search engine result pages. The grant provides a monthly advertising budget of up to $10,000, helping non-profits promote their causes, attract volunteers, and encourage donations. Its important to highlight that receiving the grant is not enough; charities need to manage their ad campaigns effectively to ensure success. You can read more about it here.

How Big Is Your Charity

Smaller organisations with limited funds may find the grant particularly attractive, as it offers a substantial advertising budget without additional financial burdens. You need to factor in the time and effort needed to set up and properly run the Ad Grant. We often see smaller, less well-known brands struggle to get direct fundraising results from the Ad Grant but reap huge benefits from spreading top-of-funnel awareness of their cause and impact.

A common mistake is charities that set up their Ad Grant, do a bit of keyword research and then leave it – we often see accounts spending $10-20 p/day when they could be spending the full daily budget. Successfully running an Ad Grant is not a set-and-forget exercise.

Larger non-profits with an established marketing budget, dedicated marketing teams and much higher levels of brand awareness are likely to see stronger fundraising results directly from the grant as it can be a really useful tool to mop up that bottom-of-funnel campaign and brand awareness traffic and send people directly to the most relevant landing page (if they find you via an organic search, they’re much more likely to hit your homepage and get lost, as opposed to going directly to your main campaign page).

Available Resources and Expertise

Implementing and managing a successful Google Ads campaign requires time, expertise, and resources. You need to consider whether you have the necessary personnel with the skills to navigate the intricacies of Google Ads effectively. Running a well-optimised campaign demands keyword research, ad creation, A/B testing, and ongoing performance analysis.

If your organisation lacks in-house expertise, you may need to invest in external expertise (wink wink, nudge nudge, Digital Ninjas can help here). If you’re looking to run the Ad Grant in-house, then you should make allowances for a team member to dedicate a significant amount of their work to managing it effectively – Digital Ninjas can provide support and training in this area.

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    Jon Dawson, CEO of Digital Ninjas
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    What Are Your Objectives

    The effectiveness of the Google Ad Grant can also depend on how you define your objectives relative to what the Ad Grant is capable of delivering.

    Some objectives like lead generation, fundraising or team/volunteer recruitment are relatively easy to assign a monetary value against – therefore, the Ad Grant quickly becomes “worth it”. Other categories of objectives, particularly those like raising awareness, might not result in a direct outcome from first-time visitors to your website – this doesn’t mean it’s “not worth it” – however, it does mean you need to spend time understanding your funnel and how awareness and less tangible outcomes are of benefit to your cause.

    It’s worth remembering that the Google Ad Grant might not be the most suitable approach if your primary focus is raising funds through direct donations. The grant has limitations in terms of ad formats and bidding strategies, making it less effective for direct fundraising efforts. In such cases, non-profits may find other digital marketing methods, like social media campaigns or email marketing, more conducive to achieving their financial goals. The Ad Grant can still be a vital contributor to these goals.

    Maximising Your ROI from the Ad Grant

    Evaluating the return on investment (ROI) is crucial for determining whether the Google Ad Grant is worth it for your cause. While the grant provides a significant advertising budget, the actual impact may vary based on campaign management and your objectives.

    To maximize your ROI, you must invest time and effort in understanding your target audience, crafting compelling ad copy, and optimising landing pages. Without effective campaign management, the grant may lead to wasted ad spend and limited impact, making it less worthwhile for your cause.

    Alternatives to the Google Ad Grant

    Other digital marketing strategies are worth exploring for non-profits that find the Google Ad Grant unsuitable for their fundraising objectives. Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter offer various advertising options that can be tailored to target specific audiences and encourage direct donations. Additionally, email marketing campaigns and partnerships with corporate sponsors can also be effective in driving fundraising efforts.

    Despite this, paid search, specifically on Google (but not forgetting Bing) should form a key part of your digital presence.

    Just Tell Me, Is It Worth It Or Not?

    In conclusion, whether the Google Ad Grant is worth it for your non-profit depends on a few different factors. Organisations of different sizes will likely benefit differently from the Ad Grant. You’ll need to understand how to leverage the available budget in the best possible way to deliver on the objectives you’re working towards.

    Ultimately, it’s $10,000 of free ad spend, so if you don’t attempt to use it, you’re missing a potentially huge opportunity to scale your digital reach and results.

    Need an emergency hotline for Ad Grants?

    The Ninjas are ready and waiting to help you with your Ad Grants questions and challenges – just hit the button to send out a distress flare.

      Jon Dawson, CEO of Digital Ninjas
      Jonathan will get back to you soon