Google Ad Grants for Non-Profits Case Study

Client: Goodwill of North GeorgiaMulti-Location PPC Case Study goodwill of north georgia

Industry: Non-Profit


Campaign Type: Google Ad Grants; PPC Campaign Optimization & Management

Project Background

As a qualified non-profit for Google Ad Grants, Goodwill of North Georgia needed guidance best utilizing its grant money while remaining compliant with the Google Ad Grants program. This involved abiding by a number of requirements, including no keyword quality scores under 3/10 and sustaining an average minimum CTR of 5% across the account.

The project initially started as a PPC optimization and growth strategy where Captivate would help improve Goodwill’s Google Ads account for greater efficiency and audience targeting, while creating new campaigns to better advertise Goodwill’s various services and departments (i.e. thrift stores, donation centers/drop-offs, job training and placement resources, career centers, and employment opportunities.)

Google Ad Groups Nonprofit Case Study PPC Ads

An example highlighted from Goodwill’s “Career Services” campaign, creating very granular ad groups was a central focus to Captivate’s PPC optimization strategy for Goodwill and making the account as efficient as possible.

Later the project would evolve as Google tightened its compliance standards for qualified non-profits, requiring no use of overly-broad keyword targeting, among other criteria. In turn, Captivate would need to audit and overhaul the account’s keyword targeting strategy to ensure compliance moving forward.

The Project Challenge

There were two primary challenges that Goodwill faced during its relationship with Captivate, each occurring at different points of time throughout the project. The first challenge was optimizing and growing the Google Ads account, which involved some of the following hurdles:

  • Keyword overlap and broad match bidding was causing the wrong ads to trigger for certain keywords.
  • Both keyword quality scores and Ad rank were low.
  • Search Ad creative was using the old expanded text ad format.
  • Use of Ad Extensions was minimal, only taking advantage of Sitelinks sparingly.
  • Growing the account by making better use of non-branded keyword data around thrift, consignment, donations, careers, job training, and other themes.

Just a few months into the project, Goodwill was challenged by new changes put in place by Google Ad Grants. In short, its compliance standards became more stringent. For Goodwill, this meant fixing any overly broad keyword bidding present throughout the account.

nonprofit google ads grants ppc compliance case study

This is a snapshot of the letter we received regarding Google Ad Grants compliance issues associated with the account. Fortunately, we were able to address and fix these issues in a timely fashion.

The ROI Focused Solution

Similar to other search marketing and PPC programs, Captivate would research and distill a wealth of keyword data surrounding both branded and non-branded queries. This involved various tiers of local keyword data, such as queries for specific cities (i.e. “thrift stores in Atlanta”) as well as local search trends (i.e. “thrift stores near me”).

Nonprofit PPC Case Study Keywords

Because Captivate also lead the site’s SEO strategy, managing and optimizing Goodwill of North Georgia’ Google My Business (GMB) locations also played a role with its PPC advertising. This enabled use of Location extensions, which could be triggered based on the user’s proximity to nearby Goodwill thrift stores or donation centers.

The data and resources above helped to define the growth strategy for Goodwill’s PPC account. In conjunction with applying new data, Captivate also helped optimize existing campaigns and ad group. This involved overhauling the keyword bidding strategy to ensure the right ads were triggered by the proper keyword queries, as well as making use of more precise match types and negative keywords. This was particularly critical for branded ad groups, as shown below.

Google Ads Keyword Bidding Strategy PPC

Other components to the PPC optimization strategy involved leveraging better landing pages that aligned with certain user intent models (such as interest in a particular job training program, help finding a career, or seeking a nearby donation center.) Captivate would also employ device-based bid adjustments which were contingent based on the conversion rate of particular campaigns (mobile being much higher for thrift and donation seekers, while desktop stronger for those looking for job and career resources.)

Further, Captivate updated the entire account with new Search Ad creative, making use of the new expanded text ad format. With three ads running per ad group, Captivate split-tests the ad creative, which also includes the use of Callouts, Sitelinks, and Call extensions. Shortly after the launch of Responsive Text Ads, Captivate began testing these new ad types, as shown in the figure below.

multi-location PPC case study bounceback

Later in the project (and as alluded to above), major changes to Ad Grants required an intensive overhaul of the accounts keyword bidding. Because campaigns were initially setup in-house by the Goodwill team, inadvertently there was very broad use of keywords, such as single word targets like “jobs” and “careers.” In short, Captivate needed to take timely action to ensure the account remained active and compliant.

Problematic Keywords Case Study PPC Google Ad Grants Nonprofit

These are just a handful of potentially problematic keywords that were putting the account at risk of non-compliance with Google Ad Grants. Note how broad and seemingly irrelevant many of these keywords are to an ad group focused on “Training Programs.”

The Results

Because the project was under unique circumstances with utilizing Google Ad Grants, ROI-related metrics were not common KPIs as with most PPC accounts. Instead, efficiency and efficacy of ad targeting was of primary interest, especially after the account overhaul per Ad Grants’ tightened requirements.

Looking at Year-over-Year comparison of average click-through rate (CTR) across the account, Captivate helped more than double the performance of Goodwill’s ads with a 128% increase in CTR. Now, the account averages about a 15% CTR, which encompasses both branded and non-branded keyword targets.

CTR Growth with PPC Case Study

Shortly after the account overhaul and fixing all non-compliance issues, Goodwill experienced a highly-anticipated drop in impressions as a result. However after this setback, Captivate was able to help continuing growing the volume of conversions and overall forward momentum. Below is a trend line of conversion growth starting from May 2018 to Jan 2019, the time-frame that best encapsulates this post-overhaul period.

As a testament to the new very granular ad group structure and relevant ad copy, the keyword quality score and click metrics (even for non-branded keywords) continues to perform exceptionally-well. Most keywords sustain a quality score of 8-10/10.

Google Ads Keyword Quality Score

Moving forward, Captivate still works with Goodwill of North Georgia into 2019, with an emphasis on continuous growing the account to leverage the allotted funds via Google Ad Grants. The focus lately has been building new campaigns and ad groups to accommodate new training programs and resources available with Goodwill, such as the ads below for its Computer Training program.

Google Ads Copy Case Study PPC

Google Ads Keywords Case Study PPC

You can view the website and learn more about Goodwill of North Georgia by visiting