Marketing Your Nonprofit With Google Grants

If you run or work for a nonprofit organization you know that nonprofits face unique challenges such as funding, building awareness, and staying competitive in a crowded landscape. The potential solutions to these issues are as varied as the issues themselves. For the sake or brevity, I will focus on one particular solution and the client I recently applied it to: Google for Nonprofits for the Edmonton Bicycle Commuters Society (EBCS).

Google for Nonprofits is a charitable initiative by Google that offers its AdWords platform, which you typically need to pay for, for free to nonprofits so they can accomplish their missions. With Google for Nonprofits a nonprofit organization can apply for a grant account where they are given up to USD $10,000 each month to use for search ads on Google’s search engine.

Using a grant account from Google for Nonprofits I developed a strategy and campaigns for EBCS that would focus on helping them increase revenue, building awareness, and staying competitive.

1. Increasing Revenue

In the initial meeting the EBCS stated that their primary source of revenue to sustain operations was through the sale of donated bikes and bike racks, bike and bike rack rentals, and bike workshops. With this information in mind I first created a search campaign targeting people looking to dispose of, recycle, or donate used bikes. This purpose of this campaign would be to ensure that the EBCS would have a steady supply of used bikes to sell at their BikeWorks locations. Next, I created a campaign targeted to people looking for what the EBCS offered: used bikes, bike rentals, bike racks, and workshops. The ads for this campaign would support the revenue component for the EBCS ensuring they have the funds to support their nonprofit.

Below are examples of the ads used for these campaigns.

Search ads for ‘bikes for sale’

Search ads for ‘bikes rentals’

2. Building Awareness

The mission of the EBCS is to making cycling in Edmonton safer and more widespread through initiatives such as education and youth programs. For the EBCS to fulfill its mission it requires volunteers and awareness of its programs. To help recruit more volunteers I created a search campaign targeting people in Edmonton looking for volunteer opportunities which had the effect of creating awareness of the EBCS as a place to volunteer as well as taking people directly to the page on the website where they could learn more about volunteering. I also created a campaign targeting people searching for youth programs in Edmonton as a way for them to discover the EBCS ‘The Spoke‘ program which teaches young children the basics of maintaining a bike.

Search ads for ‘volunteer opportunities’

Search ads for youth program ‘The Spoke’

3. Staying Competitive

The EBCS has a name composed of relatively generic keywords such as ‘Edmonton’ and ‘bicycle’. This results in the brand name routinely being targeted by search ads on Google from companies that sell numerous products and services related to bikes. As a nonprofit that gets revenue through the sale of bikes this proves to be a problem as they do not have the marketing budget to fund marketing and advertising campaigns to compete with for-profit organizations. By creating a brand campaign that targets keywords used in their brand name this ensures that ads are shown at the top of the Google search results when people search for their organization, or terms similar to it, making them more competitive against businesses showing ads for these terms.

Branded search ads

Last Points

An AdWords grant account from Google for Nonprofits offers a very generous tool that nonprofits can take advantage of to further their mission. Who wouldn’t want USD $10,000 for free every month?! Another advantage to using digital to further your nonprofit’s mission is that you can collect an almost limitless amount of data to see what is working, what can be improved, and to justify future strategies. This alone makes an AdWords grant account from Google for Nonprofits a priceless part of any nonprofit’s marketing strategy.


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