Winning the Internet

Google Grants: Is it worth the time?

After a great run, the Winning the Internet blog has been retired. However, you can still keep in touch with New Media Mentors here.

Google Grants Logo$10,000 a month in free advertising. That’s what Google offers nonprofits through their Google Grants program. If you hit the limit, you can apply to receive $40,000 a month in free advertising. Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately for most nonprofit organizations, it is.

According to Google, the average grantee spends around $300 a month. Two of the biggest issues are the Adwords interface (it’s very powerful, but challenging for beginners to learn), and the $1 cap per keyword that comes along with the Grants program (making it tough for nonprofits to compete for the words with the most traffic).

It is definitely possible to use the Grants program successfully, but to do so, most organizations have to go after long tail keywords that have less competition, and learn to use the Adwords tool to optimize the keywords they are running. Both of these take time. And, as we all know, staff time is in short supply for nonprofits—especially small to mid-size organizations that don’t have dedicated online communications staff members.

So, the big question remains: Is Google Grants worth it?

The answer is, of course, it depends. In most cases, I believe it is worth it, as long as you limit the amount of time that you spend setting things up. If you’re not sure if your organization has time for this, ask yourself—do you have an hour to experiment? You may not get $10,000 worth of advertising by taking an hour to setup your Grants account, but you might be able to get a steady trickle of new supporters—people that are very interested in your issue (after all, they are searching for you). For most of us, that’s worth an hour.

If you’d like to give Google Grants a try, you need to apply for the Google for Nonprofits program, if your organization hasn’t done this already. Then, you need to take one more step, and apply for the Google Grants program specifically. Once you apply, it can take a couple of months to get approval from Google (though lately I’ve found that it’s taken only a few days).

Stay tuned for tips on setting up your account in under an hour.

About Melissa Foley

Melissa is the Director of Training and Mentoring for Netroots Foundation and New Media Mentors. She aims to use her MBA + nonprofit background to teach organizations to use new media tools strategically.

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