The One Thing Nonprofits Must Do Before Applying for Free Google Ads

November 23, 2021

7 mins

Nonprofit organizations are always looking for free ways to market on a budget. We get it. Nonprofit marketing isn’t easy. It’s an entity unto itself that must leverage creative means to promote the cause.

That is why the Nonprofit Google Ad Grants program is such a no-brainer. What nonprofit wouldn’t try advertising on Google to promote their charity—for free?! But there’s some work you need to do on the front end to win the grant.

You see, Google doesn’t just hand out free money to any nonprofit with 501(c)(3) status. There are eligibility requirements your nonprofit—and your website—must meet in order to be approved. Then there are actions you must take to keep your account in good standing.

We unpacked all the details in our earlier blog post How to Get Google Ad Grants for Nonprofits so click over to that post for more information. In today’s post, however, we are zeroing in on the single most important thing you need to do to get approved for Google Ad Grants AND win more exposure and attention in the long run.

The Best Way to Win Nonprofit Google Ad Grants

Without further ado, and this shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, the number one most important thing a nonprofit should do before applying for a Google Ad Grant is make sure their website is the best it can possibly be.

Now hear us out. You might be thinking, sure you would say that. You run a web development company that specializes in nonprofit website design. And while this is true, we aren’t just tootin’ our own horn here. Google evaluates each applicant and scrutinizes the quality of their website when they’re considering who to award with free money for Google Adwords.

If you want to win a Google Ad Grant for your nonprofit, drop everything and make sure your website meets the following criteria:

1. Clear Messages

Ensure that your nonprofit website has clear messages about who you are, what you do, who you serve, and how you’re helping to make the world a better place. Your website should provide accurate descriptions of the services you offer, be thorough in its explanations, and easy to read. If there are no clear messages or descriptions about who you are and what you do you risk losing your visitor’s attention and their support.
Imagine this worst-case scenario: A visitor might be interested in donating to your cause but cannot find any information on how much money you need or how to donate. They might be interested in volunteering for your organization but don’t know where they can sign up or how often they can volunteer. They might even think that the site was created by someone else because it does not seem like an authentic representation of your nonprofit.
As Google evaluates websites, they’re looking to make sure the websites they promote—for free—are providing clear and accurate information. If your website doesn’t meet this standard, you probably will not be selected for the grant.

2. Financial Transparency and Accountability

Nonprofits operate on donations from individuals, private foundations, companies, and other charitable sources. If you want people to donate, you need to go above and beyond to accurately communicate how you steward the money people give to your organization.

Nonprofit organizations are becoming more proactive in making their finances transparent by using various social media platforms, disclosing lists of donors on their website, and providing donor-friendly reports. If your website lacks this important information, it could not only hurt your chance of winning a Google Ad Grant but potential donors as well.

3. Substantial and Consistent Body of Content

We are not saying you need to churn out several blog posts a week, but providing visitors with regularly updated content and information about your work will only help your efforts in the long run. Something as simple as a monthly posting schedule will do the trick.

If a potential donor comes to your website and finds that your blog hasn’t been updated in over a year, they’re probably not going to want to give you their money. The same goes for Google. Their top priority is providing an excellent user experience for people who use their product. They’re not going to send their users to your website if the content isn’t fresh.

Remember, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel here. If you’re already creating content for newsletters or email campaigns, it should be easy enough to repackage that content for your website as well.

4. Excellent Photography and Imagery

One of the best ways to boost donor engagement is sharing photographs and videos of your work. Seeing is believing so if you can help people visualize the needs your nonprofit is working to address, you’re more likely to secure their support.

From an SEO perspective, Google search results and algorithms always give preference to websites that have rich, multimedia content. Again, Google’s aim is to provide the best experience possible for their own users. So they will prioritize websites that have a variety of content that answers the question being searched for by the user.

For more information, check out this post from our nonprofit marketing series: Here’s Why A Picture Really Is Worth One Thousand Words

5. Uncomplicated Navigation

Imagine you are a nonprofit organization that has just opened its doors. You have a website with
all the necessary information for your visitors but you aren’t getting any traction. This could be because your website is confusing to navigate.

There is a saying made popular by Storybrand CEO Donald Miller, “If you confuse, you lose.” Truer words have never been spoken about website navigation. In today’s fastpaced culture, people don’t have patience for navigating websites that aren’t intuitive.

Your potential donors want to quickly navigate to the content they need to make a decision about partnering with your organization. Make the navigation clear and you’re likely to win more donors and Google Ad dollars.

6. Direct Call to Action (CTA)

So many websites lack a clear call to action. You may have all the right things in place to get traffic but lose in the end because you didn’t provide a clear path toward taking an action. As a rule, every website needs a CTA in the header and the footer.

Keep in mind that it may be ineffective to have CTAs that only direct people to give. New visitors may need more time to get to know you before handing over their wallets. To combat this, it helps to sprinkle CTAs throughout the content. Examples of this include inviting the reader to click another relevant link, or to follow your organization on social media.

7. Be Responsive

We beat this drum a lot in our website design and development agency. Many clients come to us with the priority of making their website look good on phones and tablets. Older websites are often unable to display correctly on smaller screens. Today’s web design technology builds in the ability to scale to fit any screen.

Consumers expect this from commercial and nonprofit brands alike. So if your website doesn’t appear correctly on smaller screens, you’ll want to fix that fast—especially before applying for a Google Ad Grant.

Read More: 3.8 Billion Reasons Why Your Website Needs a Mobile-First Redesign

8. No Broken Links

This should go without saying, but you may be surprised how many websites have bad and broken links. There are quick ways to address this, especially if your website is built on the WordPress CMS platform. If you aren’t sure how to build this into your regular website maintenance tasks, we’d be happy to help.

9. Quick Load-Time

How fast your website loads is a high priority to Google. If you’re new to the lingo, page load time is simply how fast your website displays content after a click. This begins when a user clicks your link in a Google search and continues as they click links on your website.

There are browser extensions and plugins you can use to evaluate your website’s load time. If you find it’s running slow, check for things like broken code or old html that could be causing the hangup. Another source of slow load time could be large images that need to be compressed.

If you’re curious about your website’s load time and how that could affect your being approved for Google Ad Grants, give us a call and we can offer a quick audit to help you know what needs to be fixed.

10. Security

Website security is an important topic that cannot be overlooked—especially for nonprofit websites that accept donations. A website that has been hacked will not only lose customers and time, but it can also lead to stolen data and funds.

If you fear that your website is not as secure as it could be, you need to address this right away as it will definitely impact whether or not you get a Google Ad Grant. We would love to help ensure that your website is secure so please let us know if you need help.

11. Honesty

Another step to file under the “why isn’t this obvious” section, but it must be said: you should never—ever—misrepresent your organization online or anywhere else for that matter. Sadly, there are bad guys out there who try to take advantage of the Google Ad Grant and game the system by being less than truthful about what they do.

We know that no one reading this falls into that camp but nonetheless we felt it was urgent to say that you must not try any smoke and mirrors tactics to land this award. Be upfront and honest about what you do and who you serve, make sure that your website is running at top speed, keep your info interesting and up to date and you should have no problem securing this special offer for your organization.

Need a Nonprofit Website?

We have worked with hundreds of nonprofits on website design and development, digital marketing, social media campaigns, videography and professional photography. We would be honored to help your nonprofit with any aspect of your marketing needs.

If you need more time, check out these case studies to learn more about our work. We look forward to hearing from you!


Cross & Crown

About Cross & Crown

Cross & Crown is a team of creatives who are passionate about solving problems through design and technology, taking what is there and making it better. Based in Chambersburg, PA, we strive to help educate, advocate, and thrive in a digital world.

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