Any promotion that requires or can attract an online viewer response is potentially a good subject for a paid advertising campaign, which means PPC for nonprofits (pay-per-click advertising) is very much a good idea. PPC can help your organization promote events, membership or contributions that raise revenue, and also build awareness of your organization and the work you do.
Paid advertising is often cost-prohibitive for nonprofits, but don’t rule it out. Your organization may be eligible to receive a sizeable Google grant that directly supports PPC for nonprofits.
First things first.
Does paid search advertising make sense for your organization? You need a concrete plan that defines specific goals and objectives based on your organization’s overall strategic plan. You need to know what targets you’re trying to reach and what you expect them to do after they click on your ad. You need to know how you’re going to measure results.
Exactly what do you want to accomplish? Capital campaign contributions, ongoing donations, event participation, volunteer recruitment, increased membership, more downloads of cause-related information, advocacy support? It could be any of these things, or something else unique to your organization.
To conduct a successful paid search advertising campaign, you have to know what you’re doing, especially since the subtle nuances of PPC can sometimes make very big differences in your advertising outcomes. You need to understand:
- Placement strategy
- Bidding and budget strategy
- How to select and exploit the strongest keywords and phrases
- How to monitor your campaign, what metrics to use and how to analyze them, and how to use the results to drive higher click-through-rates
- Creative design for ads and also the all-important landing page(s) that lead people to the next step
So go ahead and look into those Google grants.
If approved, your organization can receive up to $10,000 a month to spend on pay-per-click advertising on Google.com. Your grant is good only for paid search advertising, not contextual network advertising, and you can only place ads on Google.com, even though AdWords generally enables PPC placement on Google partner websites like YouTube. Those are restrictions you can easily live with.
Naturally your organization has to meet certain requirements. You must be an IRS-approved 501©(3) nonprofit, based in the U.S. Fortunately, some key eligibility restrictions have recently been lifted, to include:
- Places or institutions of worship
- Programs requiring membership and/or providing benefit solely to members
- Websites with a primary focus on selling goods, products or services
- Car, boat, and real estate donation websites
- Consumer credit counseling
If you are a chapter or other affiliate of a larger organization, you may be eligible to apply individually if you operate under a separate Employer Identification Number (EIN). The grant approval process can take several months, but it can be more than worth the wait.
It’s a grant, but it isn’t free. And it is very generous, so you don’t want to squander the opportunity with poor planning or follow up. You can get started by reading and fully understanding the eligibility requirements and application process.
You may want to seek professional assistance to prepare and submit your application as well as design and implement your PPC campaigns. PPC for nonprofits isn’t any different than for commercial businesses, and it can be quite complicated. Often nonprofits don’t have the resources in-house or even among core volunteers to do this work, and, frankly, asking a volunteer to handle this is really a stretch.
Engaging in PPC for nonprofits is ongoing commitment. A rather large one.
By joining Google for Nonprofits, your organization can actually take advantage of more than paid search advertising grants, including:
- YouTube for Nonprofits
- Google Earth Outreach Grants
- Google Apps for Nonprofits
- Online resources, a monthly newsletter and more
PPC for nonprofits isn’t a stand-alone opportunity. It should support or augment the marketing and promotional activities you already have in place. To be successful, you’ll need a solid online foundation that includes a well-optimized website that’s easy to navigate. PPC for nonprofits can create significant results, but it has to be thoughtfully created and implemented.