Many organizations have had great success with online fundraising. Creating a web site to disseminate information and attract donations, or even signing up for eBay's non-profit program to sell donated items through online auction, has worked very well for many groups.
But if you're going into the world of cyberspace, you have to play the same game as the commercial organizations. You can't simply hang a web site in cyberspace and expect people to find it. You have to advertise.
Fortunately, Google has just such a program for you.
Google has virtually re-defined the world of online advertising, and is the undisputed king. Well known for its search engine, Google makes its money through online advertising. Those little text ads you see alongside of your search results and on some content pages are what brings in millions of dollars a day to Google.
Those little text ads also deliver big results to the companies that sponsor them. They're not just for big businesses, either. The cost is low and quite reasonable, and many very small businesses have gotten bigger because of them. Your non-profit organization can use them too, to advertise your web site and direct traffic to it.
The Google Grants program offers free advertising to non-profit groups. You can take advantage of this program to substantially increase the traffic to your site. The program is still relatively new, but already Google has given away tens of millions of dollars worth of free advertising to hundreds of non-profit groups.
How Do You Apply?
It's not hard. You do have to have official non-profit status and a working web site, and you must fill out a simple application on Google's web site. You can find the application at http://services.google.com/googlegrants/application. The program is available to non-religious and non-political groups only.
Acceptance is not a sure thing though, Google selects new groups to receive the grants every quarter. However, your chances are very good if you meet the qualifications. Google has a lot of money to give away, and is actively growing this benevolent program.
How Does it Work?
The Google Grants program is based on Google's AdWords program. AdWords is Google's pay-per-click search engine advertising program. Regular participants in the AdWords program, which are primarily commercial for-profit organizations, pay to have their text ad displayed alongside search results or on relevant web pages.
Every time somebody clicks on the ad, the advertiser pays a fee, which may range from a few cents to a dollar or more, depending on the search term. The program has been incredibly successful, both for Google and for Google's advertisers.
You should note that if your group already participates in Google's standard AdWords program, you cannot convert your existing AdWords campaign to a Google Grants campaign. You can still apply, but you will have to start a new AdWords account.
You cannot receive the grant however, if you are participating in the Google AdSense program. AdSense is a companion program that allows you to publish those Google text ads on your web site, and receive a share of the profits from Google.
If for some reason you do not receive the Google Grant or are ineligible, you may still consider signing up for AdSense, and publishing Google ads on your web site to drive some additional revenue to your organization.
This too is very simple to do, and you will more than likely qualify. Google checks web sites before approving, but that is mainly to eliminate sites that publish offensive or illegal material.
Pay-per-click is a very effective means of advertising, regardless of whether you are selling books on how to make a million in real estate, or selling donated items to raise funds for your non-profit group. Because you pay only when somebody clicks, you get more bang for your buck. When people click on your ad, that means they have some interest.
As a participant in the Google Grants program, you will also have access to the normal tools that regular advertisers have as well, which means you can keep track of how many times your ad is being seen, and how many times it has been clicked.