My Two Cents On $20,000,000 In Google Grants.

I can’t honestly remember when I first found out about the Google Grant program, or who the very first client was that we obtained a Grant for, but I know that by mid-2007, we had a number of clients that were using them.

Over those eight years, collectively, I estimate that our clients have benefitted from more than $20,000,000 in Google Grants and so — to celebrate this rather large number, I wanted to share some thoughts about Google Grants and what I, and everyone here at our agency, have learned through all those years of spending $330 a day of Google’s money.

But first.

Just in case you don’t know what a Google Grant is and how it works. Many years ago, initially as part of a lawsuit settlement, Google launched its Grant program where any registered non-profit, first in the United States and United Kindgom and now in countries all around the world, would receive $10,000 a month in paid search free. The program is going strong and now is available to non-profits and charities all over the world. It is now part of an even larger and stronger Google program for non-profits.

This graph below is a “before” and “after” screenshot of traffic for one of our non-profit clients. As you can see, just by using the Grant, traffic jumped from thirty or forty unique visitors a day, to over 200.

A Google Grant is an amazing tool, but one that comes with caveats.

Spending $10,000 a month via Adwords seems easy — especially when a single click on a highly desirable search term can cost $50.00. Or when events like Earth Day drive the CPC on green and eco-words through the roof. But as gracious as Google is, there are restrictions.

Your CPC budget is limited — you can only spend $2 per click.

Those expensive words that cost $5, $10 or more a click? You’re not going to win many bids on them. You have to be smart and you have to get around that budget limit without getting too frustrated. We have non-profits that work in Africa with volunteer programs — virtually all the obvious words that they might want to bid on with their Grant are way out of their price range. According to Wordstream, the average cost of the word “donate” is $42.02 and is the 7th most expensive word currently on Adwords.

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Your daily budget is limited — you can only spend $330 a day.

A Grant’s monthly budget is divided into the number of days of the month — so the upcoming highly-searched phrase “Earth Day” doesn’t help out an environmental group so much because first, there is the $2 CPC limit and second, there is a limit of $330 on Earth Day (and every other day as well.)

There is a 99% chance your organization does not have someone internally who can handle the opportunity.

Personally, I can’t manage anyone’s Grants on a day to day basis. I am pretty good at the big picture and helping our clients figure out how to work around the restrictions above, but I am not so good at the management that has to go into a Grant every single day to make it pay off.

So while the restrictions do make it harder to manage the Grant, the opportunities with a Grant make it worth getting one even if yes, it does mean you need to pay someone to manage it.

Here’s why you want a Grant.

First, 5,000 visitors a month to your site is a good thing .

How much traffic do you have now? How does your site look when people try and find out how much traffic you get? What would happen if 1% of those people signed up for your email every month? Or 2%?

If you don’t have impressions, you don’t have clicks. No clicks, no conversions. A Google Grant helps you start at the top.

To grow your organization, to help more people, to do more of what every your organization is striving to do, you have to tell more people about what it is you are doing — and at the very least, telling 60,000 people year about your group is an opportunity that no organization can really afford to pass up.

Second, with management fees, you can still get qualified traffic to your site for pennies.

Yes, you’ll pay to have someone manage the site. It could be more money than you think you can afford. But take a fair lens and look atsome of your other marketing and communication efforts. Maybe you sent out a direct mail piece, paid for postage for 500 letters, and how many people came to your site to learn more? Or signed up for email? Or donated?

Greenpop plants trees and helps curb global warming (among other great benefits.) They use their Grant to drive awareness and traffic.

Other media, or other online opportunities, might be costing you $1, $2, $5 or more per visit — with a Google Grant, you can get traffic to your site for less than for eight to twelve cents per visit.

No matter what you are trying to do, there is a way to use the Grant.

Happy Africa Foundation drives awareness and support of their “Sporting Chance Street Cricket Program” with a Google Grant.

For example, a friend of mine has a small non-profit on Cape Cod. I’ve been talking to her about Google Grants for years but she’s never pulled the trigger. She called and explained to me that this year at her farmer’s markets they are going to take food stamps and she needed a plan to let people on Cape Cod know that they can use food stamps for better food.

I explained to her how via Adwords she can target just Cape Cod, and she could buy phrases like “how to apply for food stamps” and then have ads telling people how they can use their food stamps at her markets. Or, even on the day of the market, tell people they can use them that day.

I showed her all the various words around food stamps, soup kitchens and help that someone struggling with hunger on Cape Cod might use.

Then she understood what she could do with the Grant. Then she got how powerful it could really be.

Success may not be instantaneous, but it can be pretty sweet.

Basecamp Foundation is helping protect the Mara in Kenya, its animals and its culture utilizing a Google Grant.

We have had clients who have in the course of six months added over 1,000 people to their email list (and that’s for a small non-profit in Africa.) We’ve had clients who have doubled attendance at small events they were holding. We’ve had clients who, yes, have raised money with their Grant. Or even driven increased attendance at the ballet or protect animals in Africa.

Did we mention the $40,000 a month option?

Google clearly wants you to contribute to your own success and they dangle a pretty big carrot in front of you. Hit some key metrics, have some success and you can receive an upgrade with a budget of $40,000 a month. This is how we have hit that twenty million dollar mark — it’s probably more to be honest. We’ve had a number of clients make it to Grants Pro — and that’s a lot of money.

It takes work. It takes some smart thinking. It takes working with a partner who wants the Grant to work as well as you do (and wants you to succeed as much as you do.)

But like we say in our office in Boston, and in our office in Cape Town as well, if someone is going to give your non-profit $10,000 a month,

take it.

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