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2 posts from August 2009

August 20, 2009

Google Grants 101

Some of the most frequent questions I receive are about Google Grants – how to apply, what’s the process, what to do if approved, and how to increase their efficacy. Due to popular demand, I’ll be tackling these questions in a special series on Search Engine Marketing.  Today we’re going to start with the basics.  Soon we’ll get to some advanced tips for you SEM veterans out there.  Even if you are up and running on Google Grants, you may still want to read because there may be a few nuggets that could be helpful.

If you don’t yet have Google Grants, it's worth applying: you can receive up to $10K/month (or more) in free advertising (!).  And, your organization can apply for more than one grant for individual initiatives.

Here are some beginner’s tips to Google Grants:

Tip 1:  Know the rules

Google does not have a limited amount of grants to give out.  The selection process is not excessively stringent, but it does take approx 3-4 months.   To date they have approximately 4000 active grants -   To be eligible, you must be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Eligible organizations include (and are not limited to) Animal rescue & conservation, Arts, Disaster & relief services, Education, Environment, Health, Science & technology, Voluntarism & community outreach, Youth advocacy & programs.

The application is very straightforward.  You’ll need to explain how you expect the Grant will contribute to your organization, describe your target audience, and write a sample Google ad.   Ads need to be mission based.  If you’re selling a product for a charity for example, you must include this mission or cause in your ad copy.

Tip 2:  Use your grant wisely

If you are a lucky recipient, Google will initially grant you $10K/month.  Google sets a default daily spend of $330/day so that you don’t spend your entire grant at once – but this daily cap can be overridden.  The maximum amount that you can bid for each keyword is $1.00.  “Keywords” are the search terms people use when searching on Google.  By selecting targeted and relevant keywords & keywords phrases, you’ll find that many ‘cost’ under this amount. 

Tip 3:  Define your audience & goals – and become a keyword ninja! 

As with any SEM paid campaign, define your target audience and your campaign goals.  What do you want to accomplish?  Obtain an email address? Obtain a donation?
Initiate your keyword list by thinking of search terms from the audience’s perspective.  Use the free Google Adwords Keyword Tool to find related terms, synonyms, and search phrases.  Develop multiple keyword Ad Groups: set up each group of keyword phrases to display a different relevant Ad in Google search, and direct users to a relevant landing page.  For example, you’ll probably want to direct a person who searches for “Support Oregon Parks” to a donation page.  However, you may want to direct a person who searches for “Volunteer Oregon Conservation” to a volunteer page. These are examples of different “Ad Groups.”

Great – you’re on your way!  There’s no need to renew or extend your grant if you login once a month.  Don’t forget - you’ll need to always provide Google with valid contact person and be responsive to the Google Team’s emails.

Stay tuned for Google Grants 201 & 301!

Additional info:
If you don’t use them yet – then click here to get started:

Google Grant Program Details:

Google tools for Nonprofits portal:

August 12, 2009

Is it the end of the year already?


August is here and if you’re like most people you’re thinking about how to get as much fun as you can out the rest of summer—not about racing towards the end of shorts-weather, much less the end of the year.  Yet, savvy nonprofit fundraisers are already thinking about their end-of-year fundraising plans.  If you haven’t started, here are six things you should be doing now to help ensure you get the most from your end of year online fundraising.  And none of them require you to put on long pants!

Step up supporter acquisition efforts
Supporters who are added to your list this fall will be your donors this winter.  So step up your efforts to grow your email subscribers and increase the size of the other lists you’ll be using during your end of year promotions. 

Find out if an end of year campaign theme exists
Good will towards all?  New beginnings?  Peace and prosperity?  Cram ‘em in before tax season? The sooner you know what your theme is the sooner you can start pulling relevant content, generating ideas, and highlighting your organizations most pertinent accomplishments. 

Review Last Year’s Lessons
You can maximize your efforts for the upcoming end of year campaign by looking at what you did in previous years.  Determine what worked, and whether it would work again this year.  And consider what didn’t work, and why it didn’t work.

Get pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard)
Start getting it done early!  Come up with ideas and write quick drafts, just to cut through the noise.  It’s not so terribly important that what you produce in September be earth shattering and fit to publish.  Just give your campaign a back bone to shape the body around.  Revisiting something you wrote this fall is going to be easier and produce better results than hammering away at a brilliant idea on December 30.

Plan Backwards
We all have the challenge of having too much to do and too little time to do it. Backward planning is a useful way to address this problem. Conveniently, we know the deadline:  December 31st.  Now you can assess what steps are needed to accomplish your goals by that date, and plot tasks along a timeline backwards at realistic intervals in order to determine what point you need to start your campaign.

Figure out what can you get ready now, whether you like your ideas or hate them.
The holiday season is not the time to begin making changes. If you want to create a holiday related donation page, redesign an email template, or tweak your homepage – the time is ripe to begin planning what it is going to look like, who’s going to create it, and how.  Your best ideas won’t get you much if you have to cut them off at the knees because the technical components don’t come together in time.

Now, with those ideas in mind, I’m off to enjoy a barbecue and what’s left of summer!

(I'd also like to give a special thanks to Luke Maffei for his contribution to this post)