Every client needs to fundamentally understand that for a Google Grants account to work, they need a significant volume of searches related to their landing pages. When speaking with nonprofits about this, one thing that often comes up is what regions they should target. Oftentimes, the nonprofit’s focus is too narrow. And though Google’s eligibility guidelines require nonprofits to only target regions that are relevant to their organization, many nonprofits are overdoing it in limiting the locations their ads appear in.
Ultimately, Google Grants is a reactive form of marketing. You can only show your ad for relevant searches. A very simple way to get more relevant searches is to expand to a wider region. An advertisement in Portland, Oregon has a little under one million people making searches. An advertisement in the U.S. has a little over 300 million people making searches. Though the number of searches people make varies by local culture, we can expect a roughly 300-fold increase by expanding the reach of a campaign from Portland to the U.S., simply because there are more humans that could potentially be making searches relevant to your organization.
Though who you want to target will depend on your unique situation, there are three major rings of reach for nonprofits to consider: Physical Proximity, Shipping Proximity, Digital Proximity.
Nonprofit Advertising to Your Physical Proximity
Your physical proximity is the distance that a reasonable person will travel to go to your physical location. Oftentimes, that’s the driving distance of the county that you are located in and the neighboring counties. Sometimes it will be smaller, such as if your visitors have to use public transportation. It can be larger too, such as events that people regularly fly in for.
If you have locations in multiple counties, you should target multiple counties and the counties that border them. Keep in mind, that this is specific for what initiative is on the landing page, so some initiatives are available at some facilities but not others.
A good example of this would be the art workshops offered by my client, Wallow Foundation.
Nonprofit Advertising to Your Shipping Proximity
This is nonprofit advertising to the locations at which you can deliver something. For nonprofits located in the U.S., this is usually the U.S. and Canada, but can somtimes be the lower 48 states or the tri-state area. Oftentimes, what you deliver is something you sell.
If you have things you sell and can ship but do not have an online store, get started on that now! If you don’t have the resources to create an online store, at the very least create a page that describes your item and has an outbound link to a marketplace platform such as Amazon or eBay. Further, if you have a unique item, make an auction for it (like with eBay). That way, you can drive many visitors to your auction page who will bid against each other, driving up the total price.
Though I strongly believe that Google Grants can and should be used for outreach in the same way as a brochure about your programs, frankly, that argument often falls flat when I speak with nonprofits. Children’s Eye Foundation happily pays for my services to promote programs that generate no revenue, but many other nonprofits find it difficult to make this leap. Conceptually, Google Grants is a subset of AdWords, and AdWords is a digital marketing tool. So if you need to prove that revenue can be gained from this tool, the best way to do it is with sales. People search Google for products they want to buy far more frequently than they search for places to donate to.
I know it is a difficult chicken and the egg scenario to justify using Google Grants to sell something that you’ve never successfully sold online before, but I firmly believe that is something that needs to be done to scale up. Yes, when you try something new, there’s always a chance that things go poorly, but if you aren’t using Google Grants right now, you are letting $120,000 on the most popular advertising platform in the world slip through your fingers.
I was speaking with Laura Gauthier at Cuso International the other day, and she gave a great analogy for the Google Grants donation that I’m going to steal and use here. It’s one that I really wish I had been using the whole time that I’ve been doing this work. She said, and I’m paraphrasing, “What Google gives you here is no different than a wealthy donor giving you cash that is earmarked for a certain purpose.” If a donor gave you $30,000 to purchase a van, you would purchase a van even if that meant you had to pay insurance and gas for it. Yet for some reason, there are nonprofits out there who are unwilling to do the work to maximize the effectiveness of their Google Grants account.
A great example of a nonprofit who is putting this work in is the Native America Humane Society. This is a nonprofit who is currently on a free trial with me as of right now (5/30/2018). They have under $100,000 in annual revenue and only one full-time employee, yet that employee is currently working on rebuilding the website to have an online store to sell logo gear and Native American clothing to support their programs. I’ve spoken with nonprofits who have tens of millions of revenue a year and are unwilling to take the time to give Google Grants a try. I expect the Native America Humane Society to do very well because, despite their small size, they will get the same amount as any other nonprofit who enrolls (which is more than their annual revenue) to spend targeting the entire united states with a revenue-generating initiative. I made a note to circle back to revise this blog letting you know how it goes.
Nonprofit Advertising to People You can Connect with Digitally
This is anyone who you want to reach through a modern communication tool. This is typically done by using the information on your website to raise awareness and can extend to wherever your language is spoken. If you speak English, the big 6 are the Uniteds States, The United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand. You can also extend to smaller English-speaking nations, mainly the Carribean islands like Jamaica; nations with English as the official language though most people speak something else, like how in South Africa most people speak Afrikaans; or nations that speak another language but highly emphasizes English in their educations system, such as most people in Bangladesh speak Bengali (the 7th most spoken language in the world), but most people who have gone to top schools in the area speak English fluently. You can also extend the reach of these modern communication campaigns by promoting a hotline number for people within the region where you take calls from.
A great way to utilize this is with online courses. This is exceptionally good because you can charge money for access to your courses. But even if you don’t charge for these online courses, they are still a great way to get information to people who need it without having to spend time for in-person training with an individual.
With a video, you do it once and promote it over and over again as long as the content is still relevant. But even a more interactive webinar class saves you time because you can get more people in attendance by not having the impediment of people having to physically show up.
Know How to Prioritize
You might be thinking at this point that reaching people far away isn’t as important as reaching those close to home. That’s fine. The great thing about using Google Grants is that it allows you a lot of control over your advertisements. What I do with my clients is have multiple similar campaigns with the major difference being the region targetted.
You do this so that you can reach your full daily spend, and then chisel it down to give your more important campaigns (in this example, those that reach people close to you) a larger share of the budget. The goal is to spend your daily allotment well. If you have many international campaigns running without limitations you’ll likely spend your daily allotment fairly early in the day, meaning you would be missing out on searches from the U.S. However, until you reach your ceiling of $329, go big with your reach. Money not spent does you no favors.
Michael Rasko is a nonprofit marketing consultant who specializes in Google Grants. If you work with or for a nonprofit who is interested in starting or improving a Google Grants account, contact him to learn more about a one-month, no-commitment free trial. Included in the free trial is application assistance for new accounts and re-activation assistance for accounts that have been suspended for policy violations.
You can contact him for this reason or any other reason by filling out the contact form below or calling (503) 558-6500. If you do call and get voicemail, remember to leave a detailed message to differentiate yourself from the many robocalls that publicly listed phone numbers receive.