Volunteers are an essential part of your nonprofit, putting in the work needed to run your programs, launch fundraisers, and keep your organization up and running. But how can nonprofits connect with volunteers in the digital age?
With a strong enough online presence, many volunteers will come to you. Whether they’re looking to build their skills, make connections, rack up volunteer hours, or want to help a good cause, chances are that many individuals in your community are on the hunt for a trusted nonprofit to volunteer with. And the first place many of them will start their search is Google.
Fortunately, Google gives nonprofits the tools they need to market themselves to these qualified leads through the Google Ad Grant.
Getting started with the Google Ad Grant can be confusing, so to help your nonprofit make the most of this program and build a strong online presence, let’s first cover the basics of what the Google Ad Grant is.
What is the Google Ad Grant?
The Google Ad Grants program is a corporate giving initiative wherein nonprofits receive $10,000 in monthly ad credits to promote themselves on Google. Essentially, this means nonprofits can spend money provided by Google to ensure their website receives the top spot on search results for keywords relevant to their organization.
These ads consist of a link to a page on your website, a headline to catch users’ attention, and a brief description of the page’s content. With these tools, your nonprofit can spread awareness of your cause, reach volunteers, help beneficiaries find your services, promote your annual auction, and attract donors.
How to Get Started with the Google Ad Grant
The Google Ad Grant has a lot to offer nonprofits, and the first step to accessing these benefits is to apply for the grant. This is a short process, but nonprofits should know what’s expected of them before getting started.
Getting Attention’s Google Grant application guide provides a walkthrough of the process:
- Check your eligibility status. Before applying for the Google Ad Grant, make sure your nonprofit qualifies in the first place. Organizations applying for the Google Ad Grant for the first time need to be registered nonprofits in their home countries and have high-quality, secure websites. After receiving the grant, nonprofits should be aware of other eligibility requirements to retain funding, such as having high-quality ads.
- Register your nonprofit. To verify your nonprofit’s legitimacy, Google asks ad grant applicants to register with one of their technology partners. Previously, Google’s main partner was TechSoup, but they have recently switched to Percent as per their guidelines as their validation organization.
- Create a Google for Nonprofits account. Upon receiving verification from Percent, nonprofits can create a Google for Nonprofits account. Along with allowing them to apply for the Google Ad Grant, this account also provides access to Google’s other platforms, such as Google Drive, Gmail, and YouTube for Nonprofits.
- Prepare your website. Google wants to direct users to high-quality websites through its ads. After all, when users know ad content is trustworthy and has valuable content, they’re more likely to continue clicking on Google Ads. Improve your nonprofit’s website by ensuring it's easy to navigate, contains quality content, has a consistent design, and is SSL-certified.
- Submit your application. You can apply for the grant at any point after your Google for Nonprofits account is made. Log into your account and fill out the grant application form, which will ask basic questions, such as your nonprofit’s name, website URL, and goals for the program.
After this, your nonprofit just needs to wait for approval before you can access your new Ad Grant account. If your nonprofit is rejected, Google’s team will provide you with a reason, which you can then work to resolve, such as improving your website.
Google Ad Grant Tips
Once you’re approved for the Google Ad Grant, it’s time to get to work leveraging it to attract new supporters. Let’s walk through how to set up an ad campaign and strategies for getting more clicks:
- Determine your goals. Who are you trying to reach through your Google Ads? Like with any outreach channel, consider who your audience is and what actions you want them to take upon seeing your content. In this example, let’s say your nonprofit wants to recruit volunteers. What keywords would these potential volunteers likely be searching for? What page titles and descriptions are likely to interest them?
- Create quality landing pages. After clicking on one of your ads, potential volunteers should be directed to a page that addresses whatever query they entered into Google and makes them want to interact further with your nonprofit. This means that instead of making your landing page a volunteer form that just directs visitors to sign up without much information about your organization, you might instead link visitors to a “Ways to Get Involved” page where you explain your volunteer opportunities and their impact on your cause.
- Target specific keywords. Nonprofits spend their monthly Ad Grant funds by bidding on keywords. The more organizations bidding on a keyword, the more expensive it will be. Put yourself in your target audience’s shoes to consider what specific keywords they are likely searching for to connect with qualified leads and avoid spending all your ad credits on expensive, generic keywords.
Your ads can direct visitors to any page on your website. For instance, you might want to educate supporters about the power of volunteer grants, which Double the Donation defines as "corporate giving programs that encourage volunteerism in communities where employees live and work. Through these programs, companies provide monetary grants to organizations where employees regularly volunteer.”
In this example, your goal would be to spread awareness of volunteer grants to earn more revenue. Your audience would be someone who works for an employer that offers volunteer grants and is also interested in volunteering. As such, they might search keywords related to corporate giving, like “employee volunteering” or “corporate volunteer opportunities.” If you feel your audience may be more unfamiliar with volunteer grants, you might focus on less specific keywords, like “can I donate and volunteer?” or “how to give more when volunteering.”
Figuring out the right keywords for your audience can take time and more than a little trial and error. To speed up the process, many nonprofits work with Google Ad Grant consultants, who specialize in keyword research and ad creation to manage their ads for them.
Technology changes the way your nonprofit interacts with supporters, including how you recruit volunteers. Expand your digital presence by leveraging programs designed for nonprofits like the Google Ad Grant. Your first step is just to check if you’re eligible. From there, you’re on the path to expanding your online reach and connecting with more volunteers.