“Can we use our Google Grant for fundraising?” I get that question a lot, and my usual answer is: yes, in a way.
The slightly longer version of that answer is that, yes, fundraising is allowed and many organizations use Google Grants in that way – but it won’t necessary be an effective use for every organization.
Search ads are a tough space for fundraising because you get so little space – just a few words! no images! – to make a connection and build trust with potential donors. Direct fundraising asks tend to work best for organizations with a lot of brand recognition (think household-name nonprofits), or those with a mission that strongly invites donations. If you’re a relief organization, for instance, or if you’re working for a cure of a specific disease, people who come to you through search ads are probably primed to donate, because they’re looking to support that specific cause. If someone Googles “help people in Syria” and you show them an ad about supporting aid work in Syria, you’ve probably just gotten yourself a donor.
But sadly, most organizations don’t have thousands of people Googling how to give money to your cause. If a searcher isn’t familiar with you, and they’re not specifically looking for places to donate, immediately asking for donations is a tough sell. It’s worth experimenting with, because like all marketing tactics, Google Grants works differently for every organization – but in most cases, you’re better off with an easier ask. Instead of asking for money, get them on your email list.
Collecting email addresses will have a much higher conversion rate than a donation form, because people are used to being asked for it, and don’t need as much familiarity with your organization to give it. And you’ll see higher ROI in the long term, because once they’re on your list, you have time to build a strong relationship with potential donors.
Whatever your content, there are many ways to dress up email collection while also giving your user exactly what they’re looking for. Google ads take a “help me help you” mentality: if your content is useful and relevant, your ads will bump up in the algorithm, and you’ll convert even more people to join your list.
Here are three of my favorite ways to collect email addresses from Google Grants visitors:
Advocacy. If you ever ask your supporters to take action, use the same actions in Google Grants for relevant keywords. This is great because it gives visitors an easy and meaningful way to help, and it’s obvious why you’re collecting their information.
Clear asks on your most popular resources. If you have popular pages of tips, tools, or research, put a sign-up ask right within the content. Make it big and bold, with a link to a customized form related to the page’s content. You can frame the email capture as signing a pledge or signing up to get more information. Be specific about what they’ll get. Why should they want to sign up?
Another trick: make the ad all about your great informational resource, but include an ad extension inviting them to donate and/or sign up. That way, the link is in front of them if they do want to donate, and they’re primed to think of you as an organization that’s looking for donations. But the information they want is still front and center.
Lightboxes. With a pop-over lightbox, you can put a simple sign-up form right in front of the user. Lightboxes are getting more sophisticated – instead of showing one right away, which gets between the user and your content, try having it appear when they scroll, or when they start to leave the site. That way it’s less intrusive, and they get a chance to see the value of your content before you ask them for anything.
Using Google Grants for email capture, you’ll see higher conversion rates and get more mileage from your grant. Then, once they’re on your email list, you can educate them about your work and cultivate them into a long-term donor.
Do you need help with Google Grants? I often talk to organizations that have never found time to apply for Google Grants, or else they have a Grants account that’s languishing from lack of attention. A Grants account that’s not doing anything for you is a big missed opportunity. That’s why I’m offering new clients 15% off all Google Grants startup and maintenance packages for the month of May 2017. Want help kicking your account into gear? Let’s talk!