Google for Nonprofits gives registered charities access to almost £78,000 worth of AdWords credits per year, use of Google Apps to cut IT costs and access to premium YouTube features. Those AdWords credits are gold dust says Ross McCulloch as they allow you to reach new donors, volunteers and campaigners at no extra cost to your non-profit. Ross originally wrote this post for JustGiving.

Here’s six charities making the best use of their Google Ad Grant:

Shelter Scotland – making it simpler for people to donate unwanted furniture

The homelessness charity use geo-specific Adwords to drive furniture donations to their new Motherwell store. They combine Ads with a system called Response Tap, which provides a unique phone number to all users, forwarding calls on to the furniture collections driver, allowing them to track Ad to donation pick-up conversion.

Since March 2015 Ads have generated 390,683 impressions, resulting in 4,600 clicks. There have been 592 calls made to the store from digital activity, which gives a click to call rate of almost 13%. The driver has been recording all phone calls and attributing donations by channel. There have been 123 donations attributed to digital activity with an estimated resale value through the shop of £15,308 and an ROI of 523%. Digital donations have equated to 51% of all donations to the shop so far.

Elder Wisdom Circle – providing advice and recruiting volunteers

Elder Wisdom Circle harnesses the power of their Google Grant to pair advice-seekers with a network of seniors who provide advice based on their own life experiences. AdWords have had a huge impact on the charity’s organisational aims, accounting for:

65% of advice-seekers who got in touch via AdWords
71% of overall website traffic
15% of online donations and volunteer registrations

RNLI – increasing campaign engagement and conversion

RNLI’s H2Only campaign challenges supporters to give up all drinks except water for ten days. Ad Words was key to actually getting people to sign up to take the challenge itself.

“By looking at the numbers on a week-on-week basis we were able to increase clicks to our site by 156%. Performance was really positive from a brand perspective, remaining competitive with an average position of 1, and an impression share of 81% across all terms.” – Kate Whitlock, Marketing Manager

Scotland’s Gardens – boosting garden visitor numbers and brand awareness

Since 2010 Scotland’s Gardens Google Ads have been seen by almost 5 million people, driving over 100,000 visitors to their website – accounting for 15% of overall site traffic. 50% of visitors coming to the site via AdWords do so for the first time and the charity has seen a steady increase in visitor numbers and overall brand awareness as a result.

Relationships Scotland – helping the public find local mediation and counselling services

When couples are going through a divorce or separation a search online is often the first place they turn to for help. Relationships Scotland use Google AdWords to ensure they have a presence amongst the many Ads for litigation solicitors and self-help books. Geo-specific ads also help ensure people are connected to the family mediation, relationship counselling or child contact centre service closest to them.

“AdWords help us signpost people going through difficult life transitions, such as divorce or the breakdown of their relationship. We can connect people directly to our Member Services across Scotland, ensuring they get the professional mediation, counselling or child contact support they need.” – Stuart Valentine, Chief Executive

Jo Walters Trust – increasing website traffic and donations

Jo Walters Trust have displayed Ads to almost 250,000 people in the last year. The majority of the Trust’s website traffic now comes via targeted Ads and over a third of all new visitors come via an Ad they’ve clicked on within Google search results. The Trust raised £2,000 via a Christmas gift campaign – driven almost entirely via AdWords. They’ve also used AdWords to drive sales of charity ball tickets – raising £20,000 as a result. Here’s some advice on using Google Adwords from the charity:

Is your charity using AdWords to drive donations, campaigns or volunteer recruitment? Leave us a comment below.

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Ross McCulloch, Director at Third Sector Lab and Founder of Be Good Be Social, shared ways you can use social media to make your next event truly open to all and take your conversation beyond the four walls of your venue, with JustGiving.

1. Choose the right hashtag

I was recently at a charity event when people from a law enforcement event in Dallas started tweeting using the same hashtag – neither side had bothered to do a simple Twitter search. Make sure you create a unique hashtag and use the same hashtag across your key channels (Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and beyond) to ensure your event content is easily searchable.

2. Ask questions

What are the key questions your event is looking to tackle? Which speakers would people like to hear? Use your social media channels to drive the conversation pre, during and post event. This was a tactic we used in the build-up to Rights for Life, Scotland’s mental health and human rights conference.

3. Go Behind the Scenes

With Snapchat, Periscope and Vine you can offer an intimate, behind the scenes look at the event from the planning stage right up to the big day itself. Knowing Periscope is a channel that’s hot with their target audience right now, YoungScot used it to go behind the scenes at their 2015 awards ceremony, as shown in this poster encouraging their supporters to download Periscope, add YoungScot and enjoy the red carpet.


4. Tell the real story of your event with social reporters

As these examples from The Scottish Assembly for Tackling Poverty and Rights for Life demonstrate, social reporting allows you to look beyond the keynote speakers and get to the heart of the issues your event is hoping to tackle – by speaking to conference attendees.

5. Livestream video or audio to make your event more accessible

Ustream is the way to go but YouTube Live is also worth a look if budget is tight. Live audio is a much simpler option and works well if you’ve also got speakers’ slides online – Mixlr is my favourite. Most livestream services will save your stream, allowing you to archive talks and workshops for viewing post-event.

6. Make sure you chose a social-ready ticketing solution

Use a social-ready solution like Eventbrite or integrate simple social sharing tools into the event sign-up page on your website. Combine this with a Facebook Event to ensure you maximise your social reach every time someone signs up.

7. Create an online hub for all your event content

Use an event blog as an online hub for event content and updates. Grab a free blog solely for your event if your charity’s main website isn’t suitable.

8. Live-tweet the event

Think about how you can sum up the key points the speaker is making in 140 characters plus how you can join up the online and offline audiences. Could you let people in the room and Twitter users ask panelists questions?

9. Use Twitter lists to identify and engage the right people fast

Create Twitter lists of invited, prospective, and registered attendees. Use established lists to find the main bloggers and Twitter users in your sector. Work closely with these key influencers to extend reach and connect your online and offline audiences.

10. Schedule content in advance to make your event less stressful

Lighten your load by using a social media dashboard, like Hootsuite, to schedule key information in advance.

11. Use Canva to create simple event graphics

Create simple event graphics – programme information, key questions, statistics, etc. – with Canva to help boost engagement.

12. Use digital tools to get real-time feedback

RNIB Vision UK 2015 conference delegates can make a ‘pledge’ either on social media or through their app, allowing RNIB to create a ‘pledge wall’ on their website. They’ve also committed to follow up with delegates a month afterwards to find out whether they took their action forward.

13. Leave a lasting legacy

Undoubtedly you’ll breathe a sigh of relief the second your conference comes to an end but in many ways the hard work has only just begun. This is especially true if your conference or event was setting out to tackle a big issue. Use Storify to curate the story of your conference (Institute of Fundraising Scotland used it to great effect for Community Fundraising 2015) and keep the conversation going via your hashtag.

Most conferences aren’t really about bums on seats. Ask yourself why your event exists, what is the big issue you’re looking to tackle? Think about your event as a conversation and you’ll have no problem making it truly social.

What are your top tips for running a successful event? Leave a comment below.

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