Google Gives Back - Services and Grants for Nonprofits
Kara Davis, Former Viget
Aside from its standard bevy of free tools and services, Google has several grants and premium services available to nonprofits:
1) Google AdWords Grants
Certain nonprofits are eligible for free pay-per-click (PPC) advertising through Google AdWords (up to $10,000/month). Organizations are able to target keywords and craft appropriate ads within Google's guidelines.
Ads are each given a cost-per-click (CPC) value of $1, so they're not going to rise to the top as often for common keywords that others may spend more money on. Once you get a grant, it's important to carefully select and monitor your keywords to make sure they will actually show up on relevant searches within your niche.
The grant amount will vary based on how much you are able to use in a given month. The monthly cap is $10,000, but because you only spend $1 if your ad is shown AND someone clicks on it, it's rare that you'll actually be able to spend the full amount in a given month. Still, you'll be able to tweak your campaigns and keywords at any time to try to maximize your grant.
- Check your eligibility - Basically, you should be a nonprofit organization that is not political, fee-based, or religious. Organizations in several countries are eligible.
- Apply for the grant
2) Google Checkout
Google Checkout offers a way to process donations to your organization for free. There is no monthly fee, and they are still not charging a credit card transaction fee! They say this will hold true until 2009, but I vaguely recall that they once said "until 2008," so maybe this benefit will last a little longer...Because you need a Non-Profit Tax ID number to apply, I assume that this is only offered to organizations in the US.
3) Google Apps (for Email)
When you sign up for Google Apps, you can use Gmail for your email service (instead of a paid Exchange server or the like) while keeping your organization's domain as your email address. You will still be able to use your desktop email program (ie. Outlook) to pull email from that account so that you can manage your email as you always did. You can also migrate existing emails into the new Google account.
Google Apps is free for everyone, but nonprofits are allowed to sign up for the Education Edition, which means that you can actually contact Google for help - a service normally reserved for Premier (paid) users. You are also able to use additional email migration tools such as IMAP or the Migration API. As far as I can tell, the only requirement here is that you are a nonprofit.
YouTube for nonprofits is just like regular YouTube except that you get a listing in their nonprofits section and can accept donations (through Google Checkout) directly from your channel. There are similar eligibility requirements for this program as for the Google AdWords Grants, but it's currently only available to organizations in the US or the UK.
5) Google Geo Challenge and Google Earth Grants
Think there may be a way to use Google Earth to promote your cause? Google is offering grants for these projects right now. The application deadline for the current round of Geo Challenge grants is Dec 22, 2008, but it sounds like they intend to have more rounds in the future. As a nonprofit, you may also be eligible for a Google Earth Pro license (compare features with the free version here) .
Obviously, there are plenty of other free Google services and tools you can be taking advantage of (Analytics, Feedburner, Calendar, Docs, Groups, etc.). Here, I mostly just wanted to point out some of the extra benefits that you may be able to apply for as a nonprofit. Am I missing any that you're aware of? If so, please leave a note.