Grants UK volunteer insight

Tuesday, August 19, 2008 | 1:40 PM


Like Yvonne, who wrote recently about her volunteer work with Google Grants, I'm an AdWords team member who also contributes to the Grants team. I work in our Dublin office, Europe, the Middle East & Africa's Headquarters, on our UK & Ireland Education team, and I’m also on the Grants team for the UK & Ireland. In reality, Grants is addictive, so it also takes up about 20% of my non-working life!

Working on Grants has given me the chance to contribute to our mission—as Larry and Sergey wrote in their Letter from the Founders, "We aspire to make Google an institution that makes the world a better place." And I've been able to breathe my own ideas in to how we achieve this goal. One of the things I'm most proud of is a recent endeavor, which transcends traditional geographical boundaries and conveys how unique a company Google can be.

Whenever we see TV ads about disasters such as those in Sichuan or Burma/Myanmar, it can be hard to think of how we can help. Working with some key aid organizations, we were able to reduce the time it takes to get free AdWords ads online, through Grants, to help people wanting to donate online. As a result, we helped the Tsinghua Foundation become one of the fastest responders to the recent earthquake in China. Their organization didn’t exist before the event, but they managed to collect a significant amount of donations within days and through the following weeks. It’s uplifting to think that I could make at least a small contribution, from Dublin, to an NGO in California helping people in Sichuan.

Since I'm an AdWords Optimizer by trade, I also thought I'd share some tips that I used recently for the disaster response campaigns to help you with your Grants account:

1) Relevance – Avoid using overly generic terms. With a $1 CPC, you want to make sure your keywords are active. The best way to do this is to: a) choose terms specific to your organization and its work; b) see which terms you use on your website and offline marketing materials and c) see who's searching for which keywords using the AdWords Keyword tool in your account.

2) Planning – Think of the core two things needed for a successful online campaign. First, what are we promoting on our site? Second, which campaigns are we running at the moment? If you plan the account before you start creating or optimizing (I usually use a spreadsheet), you'll be able to separate each issue or campaign into separate themes (i.e. the different functions your organization performs). I'd then create one ad group per theme.

For example, let's say I’m an organization working to provide disaster relief aid. I operate in two countries (Country A and Country B), and I offer food aid in Country A and medical aid in Country B. To ensure my keywords are relevant to my ad texts, I'll create a campaign for each country I work in and target them to relevant audiences. For Country A, the ad text "Food Aid Country A" will have themed keywords such as 'food aid organisations' and 'aid country a' etc.

I can then divide each Ad Group in to the service I run, for instance, "Campaign: Country B," "Ad Group: Medical Aid " for medical aid in Country B, with different ad texts and keywords for "Campaign: Country A", "Ad Group: Food Aid".

3) AdWords Editor - This is my number-one tip for grant recipients. AdWords Editor is a free campaign-management application, where you can see your account as an overview, avoid duplicating keywords and save so much time creating and optimizing campaigns. You can even take previous campaigns, copy and paste them and alter the content.

I hope these tips help, as our core mission at Google Grants is to help organizations get the most out of their AdWords advertising and promote their cause. Many of those working for the organizations we help are volunteers full time; a US Government study showed that in the US alone volunteers worked 8.1 billion hours in 2007 for non-profits. I can't guarantee I'll beat that total on my own, but I hope to contribute more to Google's!