Take Advantage Of $156,000 In Free Digital Advertising With The Google + Microsoft Ad Grants For Nonprofits w/ Emily Fisher and Regan Dishon

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February 6, 2023

Last Updated:

March 20, 2023

You’ve probably heard of the Google Ad Grant: Google provides nonprofits with $10,000/mo in free search advertising.

​You may not have heard that Microsoft recently launched their own $3,000/mo ad grant to help nonprofits rank at the top of search results across Bing, AOL, outlook.com, MSN, and Microsoft Edge.

​This means right now, your nonprofit has $156,000 in free digital advertising with these grants. But how can your nonprofit access them and take advantage of the opportunity?

In this webinar, Emily Fisher, Google Ad Grants Area of Practice Manager and Regan Dishon, Director of Revenue at Community Boost will de-mystify the grant opportunities and dive into the practical ways you can leverage this to drive more traffic (+ supporters) to your website.

In this interactive workshop, you’ll come away with:

  • ​The ins-and-outs of the Ad Grants, and how your nonprofit can get started
  • Examples of how other nonprofits have used $156,000 in free ad spend to drive traffic + hundreds of thousands in donations
  • Top ways you can successfully leverage the Ad Grants for your nonprofit
  • Understand how Instrumentl saves you time and money in finding, tracking and managing your grants all in one place

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Emily Fisher | Digital Supervisor - Search. Seeing the full potential of the Google Ad Grant, Emily uses search ads to combine aspects of creativity and data analysis to help nonprofits further their goals.

Regan Dishon | Director of Revenue. Regan Dishon is the Director of Revenue for Community Boost Consulting. Regan joined the cBC team in 2017 when we were less than 10 team members and has had the ability to work with over 500 nonprofits directly since then. Currently, his role is to oversee the Research and Development of new advertising channels to ensure that Community Boost Consulting is consistently offering the most relevant digital marketing services to our clients.

Instrumentl Partner Webinars are collaborations between Instrumentl and its community partners to provide free educational workshops for grant professionals. Our goal is to tackle a problem grant professionals often have to solve, while also sharing different ways Instrumentl’s platform can help grant writers win more grants. Click here to save a seat in our next workshop.

Click the video link below to start watching the replay of this free grant workshop, or check out the transcriptions below the video.

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Take Advantage Of $156,000 In Free Digital Advertising With The Google + Microsoft Ad Grants For Nonprofits w/ Emily Fisher and Regan Dishon - Grant Training Transcription

Will: Hello, everyone. And welcome to Take Advantage Of $156,000 In Free Digital Advertising With The Google And Microsoft Ad Grants For Nonprofits with Community Boost. This workshop is being recorded and slides will be shared afterwards. So, please, keep your eyes peeled for a follow-up email later today in case you want to review anything that we go over.

In case it's your first time here, this free workshop is an Instrumentl partner workshop. These are collaborations between Instrumentl and community partners provide free educational opportunities for nonprofit professionals. Our goal is to tackle a problem that folks often have to solve while also sharing different ways that Instrumentl’s platform can help grant writers and nonprofits win more grants. Instrumentl is the institutional fundraising platform. If you want to bring grant prospecting, tracking, or management to one place, we can help you do that. And you can set up your own personalized grant recommendations using the link on the screen, which I’ll also drop in the Zoom chat in just a little bit. 

Lastly, be sure to stick around for today's entire presentation. At the end, we'll be sharing some freebie resources from Community Boost as well as ourselves. More to come after Emily and Regan's presentation. With that housekeeping out of the way, I'm very excited to introduce both Emily and Regan. And we'll use the search ads to combine aspects of creativity and data analysis to help nonprofits when it comes to furthering their goals. And Regan is the Director of Revenue for Community Boost Consulting where he oversees research and development of new advertising channels to ensure that Community Boost Consulting is consistently offering the most relevant digital marketing services to their clients.

We ask that if you have any questions along the way, please include three hashtags in front of them so that it can be more easily distinguished in the Zoom chat. Yes, recordings are going to be shared afterwards as well as slides. So, no need to ask that question. And with that, Regan and Emily, feel free to take it away.

Regan: Alrighty. Yeah. Emily, do you want to share your screen?

Emily: Yeah. Let’s see.

Regan: While you're getting that pulled up, I can kind of do a quick intro. Is this on your screen right now?

Emily: Yeah.

Regan: Okay. Perfect. All right. Well, thank you so much for joining today. As mentioned, we're going to be talking about how you can unlock $156,000 in free ad spend through both the Google Ad Grant and Microsoft Ads for Social Impact Program.

Right at the very beginning, I do want to preface something. I wouldn't have originally booked this webinar. The Microsoft Ad Grant was in a pilot program from July all the way through December. That has closed at the moment. It is going to reopen, and we'll talk about that. But I did want to preface that at the beginning because that was not the original intention. We wanted to talk about how you could utilize it right now. So, we'll focus more of the presentation today on the Google Ad Grant side. And then we'll talk through some of the research and findings that we've had on the Microsoft side and make sure that you're in the loop on how you can take advantage of it once that program reopens.

So just to give a quick introduction to Community Boost -- well, actually, let me do this poll first. I think something that could be really helpful is to understand kind of where everybody's at with the Google Ad Grant or Microsoft Ad Grant. I know a lot of organizations may already have this. Some of you may not have either of them. So, go ahead and respond to the poll. And we'd love to just get a pulse of who's here and what you guys already know. So, let it go for a second.

Will: Awesome. And I'll go ahead and share these results since people are really quick at answering this poll. We’re at 77% of the folks having answered it. Right now, 80%. So, let's go ahead and share these results here.

Regan: Okay. So, there's a decent percentage that does have the Google Ad Grant. It doesn't look like anybody has the Microsoft Ad Grant. So, no one was able to get into that pilot program. Although, actually, it looks like there's a few of you who have both the Microsoft Ad Grant and the Google Ad Grant. So, about 4%. And then the rest of you don't have either. So, cool.

Well, I mean, no matter where you are in this process, that's okay. I just want to make sure we kind of cater our content to make sure it's relevant to the individuals who are here.

So now, I will get into just a quick introduction of Community Boost. We are a nonprofit focused digital marketing agency. We exist to empower social ventures that are changing the world. We've been working in the nonprofit space for a little over 10 years. And in 2022, supported a little over 500 nonprofits directly under digital marketing services. Those organizations range from some of the top in the market, like Charity Water, Equal Justice Initiative, Cancer Research Institute, Kiva. But we also work with numerous theaters, museums, local United Ways. I saw Loaves and Fishes is in here today. And we've worked with Loaves and Fishes before. So, super excited.

No matter what size your nonprofit is or what part of the industry you're in, there is something that we can help you with, whether it's directly or through resources like this webinar today. We're also the host of the Nonprofit Marketing Summit. I don't know if any of you have attended that in the past. But we typically, in any given year, serve a little over 50,000 nonprofit leaders through the Marketing Summit. And we'll provide some links to that later today.

In 2023, we're looking to help generate a little over $50 million for our clients through advertising. And currently, our team has about 66 total team members with kind of the intent to grow to a little over 100 team members in 2023. So, super excited to chat with you all today. I know we already kind of did an introduction. So, I think we can skip the next two slides. But again, I'm Regan and this is Emily. And I'll pass it to her.

Emily: Yeah. Thanks, Regan. Yeah, we already did those intros. But I just wanted to say I'm just super grateful to be talking to you all today, especially about the Google Ad Grant. I do kind of nerd out on search ads in the Google Ad Grant because I think it's just a great way for nonprofits to drive traffic to their site and get meaningful results.

So kind of going through the agenda today, we're first going to talk about what is the Google Ad Grant. We'll see some examples of the Google Ad Grant in action, and how to apply for the Google Ad Grant. And then I'll pass it over to Regan. And, again, right now the Microsoft program is on pause. But it's still really important to know this information for when it does come back. And there is still action that you can take to get into the program and to learn more about Microsoft.

So before we cover the Google Ad Grant, I think it's really important to just cover the basics of search advertising. So, this page should look pretty familiar. This is the Google search engine results page. And sometimes as marketers, we can get kind of caught up in these specific channels that might be a little confusing on the back end. And you might get caught up in your own messaging internally. And, oh, it's really important to have consistent messaging across channels. With Google Search, in particular, it's important to remember. You are a Google search for yourself, most likely. And so, this page should look really familiar to you. And you know that when you go to Google and you're making a search, you're typically looking to have a question answered or you're looking to get more information. Or in some cases, you're looking to take immediate action.

And so, that's the example here. We have the example of someone typing into the search engine, best nonprofits to donate to. So, that's what we call a search term. And so, we can see when someone searches for that, these are the listings that show up on the search engine results page. So at the bottom here, we can see organic results. And so the way that you can improve your organic results is through search engine optimization, or SEO.

So, this is a bit of a longer term game. It can potentially take a few months, maybe even a year to get to the top spot on the first page for search engine optimization results. And so, this is really important. We do encourage people to work on their SEO because once you get on the first page, you're more consistently on the first page. And you show up more often when someone searches for something like the best nonprofits to donate to. So, that's really important and we really do encourage it.

But in the meantime, a way that we can get to the top of the page almost immediately is through search ads, and specifically the Google Ad Grant. So you can see the top results here, Google is making it a little bit trickier to tell what is an ad and what is not. But you can kind of see in the upper left hand side, the little ad indication there. And so, in this particular example, we have four ad results. And so, it's just really important to utilize search advertising. Again, so just get to the top of the page while you're working on your SEO. And if any of you have the Google Ad Grant, which I saw in that poll, some of you do, it's really important if you are creating ads to also include image extensions. So, that's that little picture that you can see on the upper right hand side. Obviously, it just provides more context for the organization and entices people to look at that ad and click on it. And so, this is kind of what we're talking about when we're talking about Google ads, search advertising, and the Ad grant. This is where your ads are showing up.

And so, this is a little deeper dive into the anatomy of a Google Ad. And so, we have the final URL and display path, which is really just the landing page that you're sending traffic to. So, the particular page on your site. And then we have the headlines, which you can see are hyperlinked there. So, that's what people are clicking on when they click on your ad. And so, that's why it's really important when you're coming up with headlines. You do want headlines that really relate to what someone typed in. Because again, if you kind of take yourself back to your everyday Google Search user, you're really looking for the result that's going to answer your question most closely or provide the information that you're looking for. And so, you want your headlines to be really specific to what someone is typing into Google.

You can also include more information about your organization. Maybe calls to action. And so, that's kind of how we create headlines. And with descriptions, you can see you have more opportunity to elaborate on those things like what your organization does, what someone can expect when they reach a landing page that you're sending traffic to.

So, now, I'm going to get into what actually is the Google Ad Grant. So, we have a lot of professionals here familiar with grants. And so, this term should be very familiar. But the Google Ad Grant is probably a little bit different from what you're thinking of when you hear the word grant. So the Google Ad Grant is really just a Google Ads account that uses Google's free money in order to show those ads on the search engine results page. And so, a nonprofit can have a separate paid account where they're paying their own money to show ads, maybe video ads or ads on the Display Network. But for search ads, you can have a Google Ad Grant account where it's $10,000 a month of free advertising of Google's money on their search engine results page. And so, a key difference here that might be different from a traditional grant is that the Google Ad Grant money remains in effect indefinitely. So, you don't have to reapply in a year or two.

Once you get the Google Ad Grant, your organization has it. And it's important to note that there are certain stipulations and policies that Google has in place that do need to be followed in order to maintain your Google Ad Grant account. So, they do just want to make sure that grantees are serving high-quality ads that relate to the keywords in their account and relate to what the organization actually does.

So at the end of the day, Google is still very focused on user experience. And so, they do just want to make sure these accounts are high quality. So, you do want to make sure that you're following those policies in order to keep your grant live and active all the time. But again, the grant money doesn't necessarily go away. You don't have to reapply or anything like that. And it's important to note that the money does not roll over month over month if it's not spent. But there aren't any repercussions if the full 10k is not spent. So, it's really just $10,000 a month there for you to use for your organization. If you spend $1,000, $5,000, $10,000, it's all the same to Google. But you can take advantage of the full 10,000 every single month.

And so, the real power of the Google Ad Grant lies in what we call the digital marketing funnel. And so, the funnel really just describes the kind of beginning and the user journey. When they are a brand new user and they get to your site, and then kind of moving them through that funnel to knowing a little bit more about your organization, maybe signing up for a newsletter and learning more about what you do. And then eventually, hopefully, then becoming supporters and brand advocates and people who are really plugged into your nonprofit.

So the Google Ad Grant and search ads in general works really well for the top of the funnel traffic in this digital marketing funnel. And so, what I mean by that is it's really good at generating new users and website traffic to your site. Because, again, if we go back to that example, if that's nonprofits to donate to, if someone types that and clicks on your ad, it's likely that they've never heard of your organization before. So, that's a brand new user who's just getting to your website and looking to learn more. And so, that can help increase awareness, education, and engagement that maybe they get to your site. And again, they could watch a video or maybe click out to your socials.

Once they get to your site, they can also generate leads. They can want to learn more by signing up for a newsletter, or maybe signing up for an event, or maybe submitting a form or petition or anything that you have to offer where you're asking for their information and for them to kind of do a little bit more.

And then from there, towards the bottom of the funnel, the ad grant can also help drive donations, sales, enrolments. So, those things that people are really looking to take action on like donating. If you're an animal organization, maybe adopting an animal. Or if you have an online shop, it can also work well if you're trying to sell different goods. So the Google Ad Grant works really well in kind of the entire funnel. But especially at the top where we're just trying to get new users to the site and get them to engage.

So now, we're going to look at some examples of the Google Ad Grant in action.

So, this organization is called Zero Breast Cancer. Their mission is to promote breast cancer risk reduction. And so, their goal with using the Google Ad Grant was to increase site traffic, brand awareness, and resource utilization. And so, the solution here was to add keywords that were related to those resources, which were blog posts, guides, and downloadable infographics, fact sheets, and activity books. And so, again, the importance here is that we are connecting people who are going to Google and looking for more information about breast cancer, whether they want to learn more about symptoms or have a loved one who has breast cancer and want to learn how to support them. We just want to connect people with what they're searching and provide resources and more information.

And so, we also created high quality ads that related to those keywords. Like I said, when you're creating headlines and descriptions for these ads, you really want to relate to what someone is typing into Google. You want to have calls to action to get them to click on the ad and to take action from there. And so, the results, as you can see, is an overall increase in site traffic and then also an increase in direct traffic. So, this is pretty normal. We do often see once an organization implements the Google Ad Grant, an increase in a lot of other channels. And that's because, like I was talking about, most people who are typing into Google are typing in a non-branded term. So, something like the best nonprofits to donate to.

So once they get to your site and learn a little bit more about you, if they come to your site a second time, maybe a few weeks later, they're probably not going to just type in the best nonprofits to donate to again and then get to your site that way. They probably will have bookmarked your site where we'll just type in your organization's name directly into Google and get to your site from there. So for that reason, we do just see an increase of people knowing about your organization with that increase brand awareness, or maybe even clicking on one of those organic listings that isn't an ad. So the Ad Grant can help not just in its own bubble, but with other channels as well.

And so, the next organization we're going to go over is Habitat for Humanity in Greensboro. And their mission is to build affordable, high quality, energy efficient, and sustainable houses that families are proud to call home. And so, their goal is also to increase site traffic, but also increase volunteer engagement and then purchases and donations to their research, which is basically their home appliance thrift store. And so, we're able to add in a variety of keywords around different things like home ownership, volunteering, shopping, and donating for home goods. And the beauty of the Google Ad Grant is that you can be going after different pockets of traffic, different audiences, and serving different goals at one time. And that's kind of the difference between a lot of other marketing channels where you maybe have to choose one to focus for the month or one focus for the quarter because of budget.

With the Google Ad Grant, you're able to run multiple campaigns at a time. And you can run them on a pretty evergreen status. So, you can run them every month of the year. And in this example, we also use Google's predetermined categories to target their typical audiences and their interests. So, people who are interested in home improvement and home furnishing and home decor enthusiasts. So, we're just kind of -- you're able to hone in on the more target audience from there.

And you can see the results here. Impressions are really just the amount of times that their ads showed up on the search engine results page. And you can see over 4,000 clicks directly to their site and then an increase in their goals from there. So people who are looking to volunteer and to shop, and to donate goods.

So now that we know the basics of search advertising and a little bit more about the Google Ad Grant, I'm going to dive into actually how you get the Google Ad Grant. So in terms of eligibility, you do have to be a 501(c)(3) non-profit. And you do have to be registered through Google for nonprofits. So as long as you are in 501(c)(3) nonprofit, you are eligible. So, again, that may be a little bit of a difference compared to a typical grant. There's not as much competition. It's really just -- as long as you qualify, Google will accept you.

And so, you also do have to have a functional website. In some ways that Google measures this is with making sure that there's no broken links or 404 errors. So, you just want to make sure that your website is high quality, the user experience is top notch, and that there are no areas that people are kind of landing on and not getting the information that they need. You also want to secure your site with HTTPS. So, I would recommend just talking to a web developer or someone who can help you with that. So, just some good things to clean up on your site before you apply for Google Ad Grant.

So, there are some organizations that aren't eligible within this category. And that would be governmental organizations, hospitals, schools, and fiscally sponsored organizations. So, we do recommend just going ahead and applying for Google for Nonprofits. If you have any doubt, the worst that can happen is you apply and they tell you that you're not eligible. But again, for the most part, if you are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, you will get the Google Ad Grant. So we do recommend just going through with that process because I'll outline in a second. It is pretty easy.

So, just some other stipulations here, ads can't offer financial products like mortgages and credit cards. You also can't ask for those bigger donations, like cars, boats and property donations. So, there are just a few rules. But generally, it's a pretty open program and pretty easy to follow.

So, the process for the Google Ad Grant application is actually fairly simple. It's really more about getting access to the proper accounts rather than submitting these applications where you've written paragraphs about why you should get the Google Ad Grant and why you should qualify. You can kind of take that out of your head. Again, it's really just getting access to these proper platforms that allow you to apply.

So the first platform that you have to get access to is Techsoup. And, really, Techsoup is just the third-party tool that Google uses to verify your charity status. So, it's pretty easy. It's like creating any other account. You just need to submit your IRS determination letter just to verify that you are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. And then from there, once you're verified on Techsoup, you create a Google for Nonprofits account. And this takes five minutes or less. And this is kind of the hub from where you're going to apply for the Google Ad Grant. So once you get into Google for Nonprofits, you go into your account and click Activate. And then you fill out what's called an eligibility form.

So, this should take 20 minutes or less. Again, the answers really have no bearing on whether or not you actually get the grant. It's just so that Google has more information about the grantees that are in the program. So it'll just ask you things like, what is your annual budget, what are your marketing goals, are there any times of year where you're really honing in on those marketing goals? And so, it's really just informational for Google. So once you submit that eligibility form, then you submit your activation for review. And you should hear back within three business days from the Google Ad Grants team. So again, if you kind of go through this process linearly and get access to these accounts, you're looking to do this in a week or less potentially.

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And so, once you have the Google Ad Grant account, this is where the more heavy lifting comes in, to be honest. So, it's really -- the application is fairly easy. But creating a high-quality built out account will take a little bit more time. And we do recommend just setting a really solid foundation from the beginning and kind of trying to take advantage of the full $10,000 per month right off the bat. And so, that requires creating campaigns with ad groups and keywords in it, and understanding who your target audience is, and finding those keywords that will relate to them, and then creating those high-quality ads.

So the first step would just be to outline the campaign structure based on your organization's goals. From there, you do keyword research to see what searches actually have search volume. There are really cool tools that you can use to see what people are actually searching for and what they have searched for over the last year, two years, or five years. And then from there, you create those high-quality ads that are related to the keywords. The ads that will show up on the search engine results page.

And once you have that really solid foundation laid out, we do recommend continually optimizing your account to either scale results or maintain results. So again, at the beginning, we're looking at working in an account maybe once a week. But after a few months, once you get your accounts in the place that you want it to be at, you can optimize it maybe twice a month, once a month, just making sure that you have continual eyes in the account and you're making changes so that Google knows that you're taking advantage of the account. It's definitely not a “set it and forget it” type of platform. It's very dynamic and can always be improved.

And so, this just outlines the account structure in your Google Ad Grants account. And this would function in the same way for a paid Google Ads account as well. The bones are kind of the same here. So, you have your account. And within your account, you have multiple campaigns. Again, we are able to target kind of the multiple goals and audiences so we can have as many campaigns, really, running at the same time as we want. And so, within a campaign, you have ad groups. And ad groups are really just the houses for the keywords and ads. And so, this is kind of the typical structure, again, for an Ad Grant account or a Google paid account.

And this might be a lot of jargon. But once you get this down, the good thing is, again, it's going to be kind of the same, whether you're working in an ad grant account or a paid account, or even Microsoft. So, Microsoft pretty clearly mirrors Google. So once you have Google down, the transition to Microsoft is really easy. So, this will all kind of hold up when you're creating multiple accounts. So, to kind of transition into the Microsoft Ad Grant and Microsoft program, I'm going to hand it off to Reagan.

Regan: Perfect. Well, I will move the screen share over to my computer.

And I saw a ton of questions here. We are going to have a Q&A section at the end. And any that we don't get to, you can absolutely reach out to us. We'll get you a response. But for now, I'm going to go ahead and share my screen and we'll dive in. So Emily just talked a little bit about the Google Ad Grant, which absolutely -- I mean, no matter what category of nonprofit you're in, as long as you do have a 501(c)(3), I recommend applying. I know we talked about some of those categories that Google says may not be eligible. But, again, I interpret that as may not. I've gotten plenty of schools, medical institutions approved. And we thought that they wouldn't. So, it's always worth trying. But now, we're going to move and talk a little bit more about the Microsoft ads for Social Impact Program, which is very similar to the Google Offer.

Again, as I preface at the very beginning, when we originally booked this webinar, it was still an open beta that has currently closed. But it is going to hopefully be reopening again later this year according to what the Microsoft team has told us.

The first thing I do want to talk about, though, is who's even using Microsoft? I think when we talk about the Google Ad Grant, the value of showing up on the front page of Google is pretty clear, because most of us use that. Where even when we first heard about that Microsoft Ad Grant, I think our first impression was, “That's really cool. But do people even use Microsoft? Like, do people use Bing?” And so, for me, I get really into data and research. And before we started to decide whether or not we wanted to move down this path, we wanted to first understand who's even using Microsoft. And we were actually pretty surprised. When we talk about Microsoft, especially Microsoft search, it is not just Bing. That partner network is pretty large. So from a search standpoint, it's made up of things like Bing, Yahoo, AOL. But Microsoft also owns LinkedIn. And there's some really interesting data that Microsoft is able to collect from your LinkedIn profile that can be used to influence targeting options in the Microsoft Ads account. Microsoft, like Bing powers Amazon Alexa. So as we want to get more into that voice search market, right? Focusing on both your Microsoft SEO and ad strategy can make sense if you think that your audience is using Alexa.

Again, that network is absolutely massive. And it's going to continue to grow. I mean, Microsoft is making investments. I don't know how many of you are familiar with the term ChatGPT. But Microsoft is a major investor in that which is going to completely change the way that we think a lot of organic searches is going to work and that that whole network is likely to grow pretty significantly over the next five years. As far as data and who's actually using the platform, in the US alone, there's about 117 million unique monthly searchers with about 7.2 billion searches happening monthly, right? When we go and we search things, we're not typically just searching once a month. I make multiple searches every single day.

And while the mobile market share of the Microsoft network is pretty small, the desktop market share is large. It's about 38% currently of all desktop users in the US have Bing or one of the Microsoft search networks as their primary search engine. And there are 44 million people out of the 170 million that only use the Microsoft search engine. So, right, there are a lot of people who might use Microsoft in their desktop because it's the default search engine and they just left it there. But then they go on their phone and they open up Safari, it automatically goes to Google. But there are 44 million people where if we are not focused on either our organic SEO on Microsoft or doing something like the Microsoft ads for social impact, we might be losing out on a market of 44 million total people.

And I think that another thing to note is from a goal perspective, right? Like, yes, there's people searching, but are they the types of people who would be able to donate to us or be able to convert with this? I know that there are tons of different nonprofit goals that are out there. I'd say the majority of the ones that we run into are more in that kind of fundraising volunteer side. But we work with tons of theaters and museums, et cetera. But when we talk specifically about that donor goal, when we look at who the best donor prospects are, it's typically someone that's over the age of 50. The data says that they're typically in committed relationships or empty nesters. They typically have children over the age of six, which is probably more tied to that the age demographics that we're seeing as well, and a household income of over $100,000 a year. Where when we look at the data of who is on the Microsoft Search Network, it's overwhelmingly in our favor.

So, over 50% of individuals are over the age of 45 that are searching on the Microsoft Search Network. More than half of those individuals of total individuals are married or living with a partner. Over half of them have children in the household. And about 35% of individuals using Microsoft in the US network have a household income of over $100,000 with almost 50% of that audience having an income of over $75,000 a year. So, I'm not saying that there are more overall individuals because Google does get more searches. There are more people using Google than Microsoft. But when we look at the percentage of people who fall in our rate category, it is higher in that sense. So when we run an ad, someone clicks on it, the chance that they fall into our ideal demographic is higher than, really, anywhere else at the moment.

Another really interesting data point that Microsoft is able to provide is that comparatively to Google, the average conversion value. So, how much someone is spending when they make a purchase through the Microsoft Search Network is about 30% higher than then the Google network. So, another really fun fact for us, right? If someone's going to donate $100 but they have the option to potentially donate 130 instead, I'd rather take the 130. I think we all would.

So, that's a little bit of like who is actually using the network, which I think helps build a case that it's worth taking the time and effort to move here. But just like Google, Microsoft knows the value of showing up on the front page, which is why, typically, if you want to get there, in those first few positions, you'd have to pay to be there. But just like Google saw an opportunity to let nonprofits get that space for essentially free, Microsoft wanted to launch something similar.

So, they launched their ad for social impact program back in July of this year where nonprofits could join and get $3,000 a month in ad spend, rather than Google's 10,000. However, there are some really unique capabilities within Microsoft that do not exist in Google. So, the Google Ad Grant, something to note, is that when you want to show up on Google and you use your Google Ad Grant, you're only going to show up about 10% of the time on average for the keywords you want to go after, which causes challenges when those really specific terms, like not just donate to nonprofits, but donate to melanoma awareness. That's a much more specific search.

But if someone is searching it and you provide those services, they're more likely to convert. But because it's so specific, there's less people that search for it, which makes it so that, yeah, you can show up for it. But you probably aren't getting enough clicks to really make an impact. Where on the Microsoft side, you show up closer to 60% of the time. So even with less those keywords that are really specific and have less search volume, you're getting about three times the amount of overall clicks on those keywords, which allow you to actually take advantage of that.

So other than that, it is very similar. But besides that to the Google side, what we ended up doing is we took a cohort of our current clients that were already using the Google Ad Grants. And we wanted to see, if we were to take the exact same keywords we were already using the exact same ads, the exact same strategies and copy and pasted it over to Microsoft, like what would the algorithm do differently? Which is how we got a lot of this data. And so, even with less money, we did see that we showed up more often on Microsoft. So, about 60% of the time versus Google was 10% of the time.

And because of that, we ended up getting more overall impressions. For those of you who may not be familiar with that term and impression is how often essentially those ads were seen. So, it's not 22,000 individuals. Some individuals might have seen it twice, some might have seen it once. Some might have seen it six times. But our ads, we're seeing 22,000 times with $3,000. Where in Google, with $10,000, they were only seen about 15,000 times.

So again, the power even with less money, if that impression share leads to more people seeing it, there is less competition on Microsoft because I think there are a lot of advertisers who have this kind of stigma against like Microsoft. People aren't really searching there. So, the competition is less. So, the cost per click was less as well. So, clicking on average would cost $6.75 on Google. It only cost about $4.98 on Microsoft. But, again, it is less overall money. So, the total number of clicks that we got was about 602 with that budget. Where on the Google side, it was closer to 1400.

So even though it is about a third of the budget, which was not quite a third of the amount of clicks. But knowing this, right, you want to use that to your advantage. So, I don't necessarily recommend copying and pasting the bill. That was more to get a clear data comparison. But knowing that we're going to show it more often, knowing that our cost is a little bit cheaper, we can find the holes that our Google Ad Grant has the keywords that are really hard to go after, and use those specifically on the Microsoft search network.

So, what are the requirements here? Again, it's almost like copy and pasted from Google, in my opinion. So on Google, you would go through getting your Google for Nonprofits account set up. With Microsoft, you get your Microsoft for nonprofits account set up. You get verified through Techsoup. They just make sure that you are eligible. From there, right, you have to have a functional website. You can't send ads to a website that doesn't exist or doesn't work. So, obviously, we would need that there. And I know there were some questions on what counts as a functional website. So, we can talk through that.

And just like Google, there are issues with Governmental Organizations, hospitals, schools, childcare centers. Again, I always recommend applying. Just like Google, we've seen some get through. But from my experience, some of those that we were able to get through on the Google side that fell in that kind of school or hospital type of group were -- even though they got to prefer the Google side, were not approved for Microsoft.

So, it doesn't hurt. These applications don't take that long. So, it's worth doing. Worse, they're going to say is no. But other than that, not a whole lot of other restrictions. From an application process standpoint, again, you're going to first fill out that Microsoft for nonprofits forum. It'll take about 10 days for them to review everything. Make sure that you are who you say you are. You’re a nonprofit, et cetera, et cetera.

From there, once the program reopens, there's going to be a link that you can fill out where -- that you will fill out like a form of -- it's like maybe 10, 15 questions. It's not very long. You submit that.

And the reason they have you do that separately is there's the description of who can actually get into the Microsoft for nonprofits program. It’s a lot bigger than who can get into the ad grant program. So, you might get the Microsoft for nonprofits as a hospital, but not the ad grant itself. So, they separate those application processes. And then if you do get approved for the Microsoft Ad Grant, very similar to Google. You then move into where the real work begins, I would say, is just building the campaigns, doing the keyword research, building the ads, and optimizing to make sure you're getting the best cost per click, and getting the most for your dollars.

At the moment, like I said, this has been paused. But what we can do is if you are interested in the Microsoft Ad Grant side of things, you can scan this QR code right here. We do have direct contacts with the people who run the program. They have been intentionally vague because they don't want anybody giving a hard date, and they have to push it. And it's bad PR. But like I said, it should come out this year. We'll know in advance. So if you scan that link and sign up for that email list, as soon as we hear the date that everything's going to be starting again, we'll reach out to everybody on that list and let you know, “Hey, it's time to get started” so that you can be way ahead of the curve. There's going to be a lot of people who end up applying. The line is going to get long, and we'd like to get you ultimately ahead of the queue there.

So, I'll leave that up for a couple seconds more and then we'll move here. And again, we’ll send out the slide deck too. So if you missed it, you can always go back and scan it after.

The last thing I wanted to talk about is unrelated to the Microsoft Google Ad Grant. But as I mentioned at the beginning, we are the host of the Nonprofit Marketing Summit. If you're wanting to continue to boost your understanding of marketing or you have a marketing team at your organization who wants to learn more about different types of platforms and hear from really the best of the best in the space, our Nonprofit Marketing Summit, the big innovation is happening from February 28th through March 2nd. So, three days. If you scan that link, it is free. It's all online. So, you don't have to worry about flying anywhere. You can attend the sessions you want.

You can skip the sections that you don't want to see. But I recommend going through and signing up for that. Emily is going to be a speaker. I'm going to be a speaker. But we also have names like Vik Harrison, who Scott Harrison from Charity Water’s wife. She's going to be speaking with us via Zooli. Beth Kanter, about 66 other speakers at that. So, I highly recommend that you do that and sign up.

And then finally, I will open it up to Q&A here after I say this last thing. But if you do have specific questions, either about the Google Ad Grant or Microsoft Ad Grant, if they don't get answered in the Q&A or it's more tied to something specific issue you've run into, scan this link, we can definitely set up some time to have you talk with my team. And we can help kind of troubleshoot some of those more specific issues you may be having. So, I'll go ahead and stop there. And, Will, are we opening it up to Q&A now?

Will: Yeah. Before we open it up to Q&A, I wanted to do a quick share as well for folks on Instrumentl. In case it's your first time here, Instrumental is the institutional fundraising platform. If you are looking to bring your grant work into a single source of truth, we can help you do that. And Community Boost has a link as well that you can look at. It'll be in the follow-up materials today.

The main thing that we see from folks is that in their first year of using us, we raised 200k more in grants. We save them a significant amount of time, three hours a week or a good fit fund they find, as well as increase their grant application output by one and a half times within a year. And 9 out of 10 of our users say that they've developed a stronger grant strategy.

So if you're ever looking to level up your grants calendars and put all of the work that you're doing around your grants in a single all-knowing source of truth, then definitely check that out. With that side of things, we do have a number of questions. But if you want to follow up with Community Boost as well, you can follow up with Candice who has been in the chat as well. Candice at Communityboost.org. Here are some of the links as well. Jot down that code, and I'll start to fill some of these questions now while I leave that up for a bit.

Dimari asked, with regard to the Google Ad Grant, are there any reporting requirements that nonprofits have to follow or adhere to?

Emily: No, no reporting requirements. And, yeah, really the only stipulations would be Google has kind of a compliance policy guide. I don't want to get into too much of the jargon. But they just basically have rules for click through rate, which is just making sure people are clicking your ads often enough for how often they're shown on the search engine results page. And, really, just rules that ensure that your account is high-quality and high-functioning. But aside from that, no reporting requirements.

Will: Awesome. And Melissa asked, how many hours a week would you dedicate in terms of managing your Google Ads Grant? I'm assuming that means for somebody doing it in-house.

Emily: Yeah. Kind of like I talked about in my portion, we do dedicate a lot of time upfront when you're first setting up campaigns and ads. And so, that could be anywhere from five to eight hours initially just to get that really solid foundation. You can create campaigns incrementally, of course. But again, we like to just kind of get ads up and running so that you're taking advantage of the $10,000 a month that you have.

From there, it kind of depends on the results that you're seeing. If you're still having a hard time reaching that full 10,000, we do recommend being in the account every week, maybe for 45 minutes. If you are seeing the results initially that you're looking for in order to maintain, you can maybe be in the account twice a month for 45 minutes each and kind of on the lower end maybe once a month. But Google does require changes at least once a month just to make sure that you are going into the account and checking up on things and continually improving it.

Regan: Yeah. And I would say, I mean, just like most things that you're going to get out what you put in. And it's not always time specific, right? I know people that might need to spend four times the amount of time that I would to get the same results. But there's a level of experience that I have where I don't have to think through certain things because I've already learned those lessons. And so, it really depends on your familiarity with how to navigate the accounts, how to choose the right things.

You could see the exact same level of success from an hour of high quality work that someone else could see in 10 hours of, if they were to choose all of the wrong keywords. Right? So, yeah, I guess it's not really a mix of how often. I would say, at minimum, you should check in once a week. But it's how long you're spending is really just dependent on how happy you are with the results that you're getting at the moment. If you're spending a lot but it's not giving you the results that you want, take extra time and delete the things that aren't working and free up budget to test new strategies that hopefully would work. So, yeah.

Will: Awesome. And Spurs FC asked, what if we've had difficulty in getting approved for the Google Ads Grant or issues with meeting the website requirements? Is there any additional health? I feel like that could be a good place to share that QR code link for looking at time with you, guys.

Emily: Yeah, Google also does have tools that you can measure site speed. And I would say site speed is one of the biggest issues that we come across when we're talking about high-quality websites. So, using those tools. And then if you do have a website developer or someone who can kind of help you speed up your site, that is a great place to start.

And like I mentioned on my slide as well, if there are any broken links or 404 errors, you can reach out to Google support if you're having issues with that. Even if you don't have the upgrade, you can kind of try and reach out and see if they can find any links that are broken. Or again, a web developer is really helpful with that. So, those are kind of the two main areas that we see issues with websites.

Regan: Sorry, Emily. The other thing is that -- isn't there something that they should have that kind of the footer of their website, too? I know we've run into those issues. But --

Emily: Yeah. It is really helpful to have your EIN on the footer, if not a complete, dedicated page, that talks about your organization, what you do, maybe even having some financial statements in there. That does help with the verification process so that Google can easily go to your site, see your EIN, your charity status, who you are. So, yeah, that is really helpful to have your EIN in the footer of your site.

Will: Robert asked earlier, and I know this was initially answered in the responses of whether or not $10,000 a month is a significant amount in search advertising. I'm curious, just in general, what you guys see for the cost per click in the nonprofit space just for folks to have some general sense of how costly it is there, as well as, I noticed a lot of the stats that were shared is around raw traffic. But how do you guys conceptualize that in terms of tracking towards the goals of how much they've actually raised from the awareness that comes from those campaigns? 

Regan: Yeah, great. Great questions. I'll start by just the first question, which is, is $10,000 a lot? It absolutely is. Compared to -- if you were not a nonprofit, you didn't have the 501(c)(3), if you wanted to spend $10,000, you would have to spend 10,000 real dollars, right? So Community Boost, for example, we're not a nonprofit ourselves. If we wanted to run search ads, like we're probably not spending anywhere close to $10,000 a month in our own real money, because it's a lot of money.

So, yeah, my answer is yes. It's a very significant amount. The difference though is, again, knowing those Google Ad Grant stipulations of you're only showing about 10% of the time, like there are keywords that since we're paying real money, we can show up for and see a lot of success with and be competitive with. Where you are going to be less competitive with the free money that Google is giving you.

So, again, there's pros and cons to spending real money versus doing the grant. But I'd say there's almost actually no con of doing the grant because you can always spend real money on top of that if you wanted to. You get all the pros, the con. It's free money. Yeah. So, I don't know if it helped to answer it. But it's a lot.

Will: As a follow up question, I'm curious if you guys see any difference in terms of the free money versus the dollars that people are actually spending. Is there a tier order of how they're allocating that from Google side? Or is it consistent across? Yeah.

Regan: I can answer that. Or, Emily, if you want to. It's up to you.

Emily: Yeah. There is a little bit of a tiered system. So Google Ad Grant, ads will always show below paid ads. You can't tell on the search engine results page what is an ad grant ad and what's a paid ad. So, it all looks the same. So, that is the advantage of having an additional paid account, if it makes sense, for competitive keywords that you're wanting to go after because you can get even more to the top of the page more consistently.

All that to say, I mean, we still have many organizations that do spend the full $10,000 a month and are driving hundreds, thousands of clicks to the site every month. So even with the limitations of showing up around 10% of the time and showing the low paid accounts, you can still drive so much traffic and get results through the ad grant. But, yeah, there are certain advantages of using a paid account if you want to, even bolster your presence on the search engine result page even more.

And that is what, to Regan's point in his section, the advantage of the Microsoft Grant where there's just one app, one auction. So ad grant ads, paid ads, it's all the same. So, that is the difference between the Microsoft and the Google Ad Grant account. So, Regan, do you want to add anything more to that?

Regan: No. I mean, I think the other piece is just like do we see a difference in the overall conversions that happen or kind of answering that piece of the question? I mean, there is a difference, right, because you're less competitive and you show up less often. You can't go as specific as you could with a paid account. So, the difference would be maybe I'm looking up like that's nonprofits to donate to. There's a lot more people that are searching for something that's broad like that than there are people typing in to donate to Melanoma Research.

And let's say I'm a nonprofit that does Melanoma Research. If someone's typing in donate to Melanoma Research, I know that they're looking to donate and I know that they want to donate to a cause that is Melanoma Research. So, all I have to convince them once they get to our site is that we are the person that's focused on Melanoma Research that they should donate to over x, y, and z. We’re on a term like donate to cancer or donate to nonprofits. We find someone who's wanting to donate, but are they wanting to donate to an animal rights organization, environmental organization? There's a lot more questions that we have to answer.

And so, again, the more narrow we go, the higher likelihood that that person is going to convert earlier. And maybe make a donation that first time. But as it gets more specific, it gets harder with the Google Ad Grants. So, you're limited to some of those broader keywords. It's not something so broad as like the word non-profit. That's way too broad. But again, there are some limitations with it. But, again, it's free money. So, it's not the end of the world.

Will: Sure. Eliza asked, and this was something that another person kind of follow-up and also wanted the answer to, which is why I'm feeling it here. Are 501(c)(3) organizations that start and run schools around the world eligible saw international impact? And also, faith-based organizations, are they eligible or ineligible?

Regan: We work with plenty of faith-based organizations. I mean, it's not a problem. The bigger thing that Google is going to care about is just kind of the language that’s being used. And so, I think with religious organizations in general, if it looks hateful, or anything like that, if you have that kind of information on your site, you're less likely to get approved. But I would say, the average church Christian-based organization, Muslim organization, Buddhist organization, we've gotten all of them approved. It hasn't been a problem.

And to answer the question on the schools, it's always worth trying. I've gotten charter schools approved. We work with plenty of organizations that are nonprofits that focus on the education system but are not a school themselves. It even says like, “You can't get daycares approved.” But, I mean, YMCA has a daycare component, and YMCA can get approved. So, it's always worth applying. And even if they say no, it's always good to almost like try again. Because I've gotten rejected on the first time and approved on the second. But, yeah.

Emily: Yeah. Yes, schools are nuanced. I think we mainly see an issue if it's like a university or private school where Google is wanting them to use more of the real dollars there. But, yeah, if your organization has kind of a charitable arm to it, even if there are, even if there is a for profit component, if there's a charitable arm, then that can get qualified. So, yeah, I just want to reiterate what Reagan said. It's always worth trying because, especially in the school system, in an education system, it's pretty nuanced.

Will: Gina asked, “Do you need to apply for the grant annually? Or is it continuous, indefinitely? What does that look like?”

Emily: Yeah. You just need to apply one time. So once you have the Google Ad Grant, it's yours and it does not go away. So, that's the beauty of it.

Will: Veronica asked, “You keep encouraging me to apply anyways. Has it been your experience that any organization that currently has a fiscal sponsor has been approved?”

Emily: Not to my knowledge. That is part of the stipulations for Google. It wouldn't qualify. So, I guess, that would be my answer. But, Regan, do you have anything to add?

Regan: My answer is going to be apply anyway. It's not the application. It's not like you are spending 10 hours writing this application, and hopefully you get it and you have to explain everything. You’re just filling out some forms. It doesn't take that long. The worst they're going to say is no, and you wasted 45 minutes. But the best case scenario, you get approved and then you can focus on the harder part of building out everything after that. But you just got $10,000 a month. So, yeah.

But I don't know of any -- I can't think off the top of my head from our client roster if we have fiscally sponsored organizations. I can't memorize every client I have.

Will: And Gina asked the same question on whether or not you need to apply annually for the Microsoft Ad Grant. But it sounds like that one is also similar to Google.

Regan: Yeah, yeah, it's the exact same. So, you just apply once. It's where you would run into issues as if you -- you’re applying and everything is all good and dandy. And then all of a sudden, you're like, “I think it's doing good.” And you don't check on it for five years. And something changes and now you're making -- your certain pages, your website goes down. And then they're like, “Hey, you need to fix this. You don't do it.”

If you're unresponsive, they can cancel your grant. And then typically, the process is just going and talking to someone and saying, “Oh, yeah. This person, I don't know who it was, but they messed it up, we want to try again.” And they'll typically let you. But I've seen in a couple of cases where we've had to reapply at that point. I mean, as long as you're not just like forgetting about it, you're fine for years.

Will: Sure. And Rob asked, “Are Google or Microsoft Ad Grants geo targeted?”

Regan: Yes. So, you get to choose where you're targeting. And you can go down to a specific zip code if you wanted to do that. Or typically, we focus on more of the DMA range. So, I can say target people in -- anybody in San Diego who's searching this, you can see it. Or anybody in these specific zip codes but not in these zip codes. So, yeah, you can target them that way, for sure.

The bigger thing is people will only see your ads if they actually search for the term that you're wanting to go after. So, the more narrow you get that audience, the less overall -- again, going back to the Donate to Melanoma Research, if I target the whole US, there's more people searching than only people in the zip code 92106 just based on population size.

Will: And Peter asked, “Can nonprofit use ads for projects, campaigns or joint ventures that aren't completely related back to their original organization's mission?”

Regan: It's a good question. I mean, it depends. I mean, I guess it would depend. It doesn't always have to be tied to what your mission statement is. You couldn't be like, “Hey, Coca-Cola, you should give us money. And then we'll send ads to get people to buy Coca Cola.” Obviously, Google is not going to like that. But if your mission is like, we want to build wells. And then all of a sudden you're like, “Well, actually, these kids need shoes,” and then you want to add that into it. That's okay.

And operating budget for the Google Ad Grants, specifically, does not matter. I mean, as long as you have your 501(c)(3), that's all you really need. As your budget increases, you'll typically be able to -- either afford someone fulltime in-house for marketing that's doing that or an outside agency. So, what you can do with it will start to grow as your budget goes up. But there is no minimum budget requirement. You just have to have your status.

Will: Awesome. If anyone else has any final questions, feel free to drop them in the chat. I will also be dropping in the chat if you enjoyed this workshop. We'll be back next week to cover five tips for building an antiracist culture in your fundraising with Kia Croom.

So, feel free to join us for that as well next week. But if there's any final questions, feel free to drop them in the chat here.

Regan: I did see one question much earlier about keyword research and how to do that. There are tons of outside tools you can use. I recommend using the tools that are in the platform. So inside of your Google Ad Grant account, there is a keyword research tool. And you can filter down to the exact area you want to target. You put in the keyword. It'll tell you how many people are searching that versus other similar terms to that. Because it could be like donating to cancer research, or it could -- the same person could be typing in to donate to the best Cancer Research Organization. It's the exact same intensity, just a slight variation in it. So, it'll show you all of them. It'll show you how much search volume it has. And then what I would typically do, if you want to know how much of your grant you're going to spend on that, is take the amount of search volume it's telling you. Take 10% of that, and then multiply that number.

Well, you take 10% of that, then you're going to take 5% of that because that's the percentage of how many people will see your ad versus typically clicking on it. And then multiply that number by whatever the average bid is, and it'll tell you how much you're probably going to spend. So, I know that’s --

Will: So, that'll typically be found in your keyword ad planner. And also, you can use your Google Search Console, which are all free tools, part of Google's suite as well. So if your nonprofit hasn't already installed Google Analytics or things like that, you definitely want to set that up anyways. And so, that can be a great way for you to get information that's valuable in terms of how people are perceiving your website and the sorts of pathways that they're taking on your website.

Awesome. With that, thank you so much, everybody, for joining us for today's workshop. That concludes this workshop. We'll be sending slides and replays in a couple of days from now. Everyone, have a great rest of your day.

Regan: All right. Have a good one, everybody.

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