Google Ad Grants Story Triangle

Today we’re going to talk about the successful use of Google Ad Grants with the right story.

Successful use of Google Ad Grants breaks down into two main areas:

  1. Mechanics (the nuts and bolts of Google Ad Grants)
  2. Creative Strategies (includes story development, the main topic of today’s message)

“Mechanics” can be learned. In fact, the mechanics of Google Ad Grants will need to be learned to take advantage of these ongoing grants, in the same way a person would need to learn to drive a car to use it for transportation.

Having said that, it’s the “creative strategies” that will generate results. This boils down to “What will be advertised?” This is a huge topic, and it all begins with your unique, nonprofit story.

As a sidebar, this is one of the reasons ad agencies exist. Companies pay advertising specialists to create a bigger impact with their ad budget than they can on their own.

Stories That Don’t Work

The creative strategies and “story” will vary with each nonprofit. But one place to start would be to understand what does not work.

What doesn’t work is simply placing ads on the internet that state something along the lines of how good a nonprofit you are and asking for money.

By the way, this is what many nonprofits actually do with Google Ad Grants. And they are the same ones to say that Google Ad Grants doesn’t work.

It’s like a generous benefactor providing a car and gas to use at will and then having the recipient eventually say the car doesn’t work because the person didn’t know a key was required to start the engine and some skill was necessary to operate the vehicle.

The Right Story Is Vital To Benefit From Google Ad Grants

Creative strategy and especially “story” comprise the most important factors with Google Ad Grants and deserve a little elaboration.

We all intuitively understand the basic concept of “story.” But for this system, we mean a unique and compelling “marketing story” that works with Google Ad Grants: one that will help us rally a massive community of online supporters. Often this story focuses on only one small aspect of what your nonprofit contributes to the world, even though you may be doing many different and valuable things.

By the way, the story can create more impact for your nonprofit if it could be meaningful and engaging to people around the world or at least around the country.

Although this type of broad-based story is easier to establish with nonprofits that have a national or global mission, this does not exclude nonprofits who serve a local community.

We at Nonprofit Fire have established national and international stories for local nonprofits and it’s a common topic we discuss with new clients.

OK, let’s get down to the primary components that are factored together to develop a story for your nonprofit that will be advertised on a massive scale. Our purpose is to generate a huge community related to the story. The community can then become a source of volunteers, fundraising, etc.

Google Ad Grants Story Triangle

Google Ad Grants Story Triangle

There are three points to the Google Ad Grants Story Triangle.

  • Topic Selection
  • Free Giveaway
  • Effective Keywords

Let’s explore these three points in more detail.

Topic Selection

The topic of your nonprofit story needs to be simple and engaging. What we mean by “engaging” is to “attract the attention of” and “involve individuals” interested in the topic. As stated earlier, the topic will typically represent only one aspect of your nonprofit activities, or is at least related to your nonprofit purpose. The topic is so intimately connected to the “free giveaway” and “effective keywords” that the topic cannot be considered independently. In other words, a great topic that does not include a compelling free giveaway and effective keywords that will work with Google Ad Grants will not be effective.

Topics that would be of interest to national or international individuals will work much better than topics only of interest to a local geographical area because we want to advertise your story nationally and/or internationally.

Free Giveaway

The free giveaway is something directly tied to the topic and should be of value to the intended individuals who will comprise the online community. Typically, the free giveaway would be some type of digital download. It could also be other content in the form of videos, educational courses, documentaries, articles, infographics, contests, promotions, etc., as well as events and activities. (However, events and activities need to be re-established whenever the events or activities have concluded). Free giveaways work hand in glove with the “Topic Selection” and “Effective Keywords.”

Effective Keywords

Effective keywords are the heart and soul of Google Ad Grants. Keywords represent search phrases people use to find information online. To be “effective,” there needs to be enough individuals searching online with these keywords, in sufficient volume, to generate the most value for your nonprofit. Also, the keywords need to be low cost.

It bears emphasizing that Google is paying for these keywords via the budget they provide nonprofits with their Google Ad Grants. But they only pay for lower cost keywords. So, if the keywords that your story requires are too expensive for your Google Ad Grants, then you won’t be able to advertise with them.

How The Google Ad Grants Money Is Spent

Although this article does not intend to detail all the mechanics of Google Ad Grants, as a simplified overview, here is how the free advertising grant money is spent:

Businesses pay Google to “bid” (like in an auction) on keywords that relate to their business products and services. Often, other businesses are also bidding on the same keywords. Higher bids can result in higher placements of the ads. However, in reality there are more factors than just bids that determine which ads are positioned from highest to lowest on a page.

When consumers click on the ads related to the keywords, they are taken to websites with information indicated in the ads. Some consumers will make purchases. When done well, this is so powerful that businesses pay billions of dollars per year for keywords that direct visitors to their products and services.

As another example, consider the last online search you made. What were the keywords you used? Do you recall ads on the top and bottom of the page? Some busy people are not even aware they are clicking on these advertisements.

Nonprofits using Google Ad Grants do not need to pay to bid on these keywords: Google is providing the money that is being spent.

For the purpose of this article, instead of attracting visitors to your website to purchase products or services, you would be using keywords and ads to attract people to your nonprofit website to learn more about the free giveaway. Not all visitors will take advantage of the free giveaway. But those who do will exchange their contact information to receive the free giveaway and become part of your nonprofit community.

The reason for attracting people with a free giveaway is so that you can build a relationship with them over time, via ongoing content, and then periodically ask for donations for very specific campaigns. More about this in a moment.

Spend the Google Ad Grants Money!

With Google Ad Grants, your nonprofit has a budget of $10,000.00 per month, or about $329.00 per day, to spend (“bid”) on keywords. Part of the trick of using Google Ad Grants is researching and finding enough effective keywords to spend that full $329.00 each day. A nonprofit should work towards spending the full amount every day, to drive the maximum amount of visitors to your free giveaway on your website.

Stated another way, the $329.00 per day does not accrue over time. If you don’t spend it, it’s gone. On the first day of each month your Google Ad Grants account starts with a $10,000.00 budget. Every day it is reduced by about $329.00 until the account is zero at the end of the month, whether it is used or not. (So it’s important to use it!) And then on the first day of the new month, it starts all over.

Researching, selecting and working with keywords is not something that will be mastered in one day. But for now it’s important to realize that “Effective Keywords” are a critical partner to the “Topic” and “Free Giveaway,” which represent the three corners of the Google Ad Grants Story Triangle.

Nonprofit Mission

The three points of the Google Ad Grants Story Triangle all revolve around your nonprofit mission.

Furthermore, this type of story development, including its three primary components of topic selection, free giveaway and effective keywords, all need to work in conjunction with Google Ad Grants to support your nonprofit mission.

If they don’t work together, the story and advertising will not be successful.

Stated another way, this type of Story Development with the Google Ad Grants Story Triangle cannot be properly compared to other types of story development.

Even though your nonprofit mission is often used to inform this type of story development, in the majority of cases the resulting “Story” that is used with Google Ad Grants will not be your mission statement.

Furthermore, often the first story and strategy launched will yield clues to an even better story, as revealed by the substantial amount of data Google provides as part of using their Google Ad Grants. (Although it can take some experience to really take advantage of the data).


Story development is a substantial topic but I hope this opens up the subject since this is so fundamental to successfully using Google Ad Grants.

Refer to this Google Ad Grants Story Triangle over and over as you are developing the marketing story for your nonprofit and this triangle will be put you on the right track.