In this guide, we'll explain how to optimize a Google Grant account in 7 easy steps.

How to Optimize a Google Grant Account in 7 Easy Steps

The Google Ad Grant is an invaluable tool for reaching potential donors and supporters online. While receiving the grant and setting up your account is a great first step, it takes more work to leverage the full potential of your free ad spend.

For the best results, you need to maintain and optimize your account. Here are seven steps to get started:

Whether you’re a seasoned digital marketer or a nonprofit professional new to Google Ad Grants, these insights will help you improve your online visibility, attract more donors and volunteers, and make a greater impact in the communities you serve.

Looking to optimize your Google Grant account? Click here to partner with our recommended agency, Getting Attention.

Before diving into the seven strategies for optimizing a Google Grant account, let’s answer some frequently asked questions.

What is a Google Grant Account?

The Google Ad Grant provides eligible nonprofits with $10,000 worth of in-kind advertising on Google Search each month, helping them reach a wider audience and connect with more potential supporters online.

After applying for the grant and being accepted into the program, nonprofits receive an account through which they can create and display ads on Google without the need to make any payments.

The Importance of Optimizing a Google Grant Account

If you want to make the most of $10,000 in free ad spend per month, you need to be willing to adapt and make improvements on an ongoing basis. Here are a few reasons why optimizing a Google Grant account is important:

  • Improved ad performance: Optimization techniques, such as keyword research, ad copy testing, and audience targeting, will help your ads appear in relevant searches and attract clicks.
  • Maximum impact: By optimizing your Google Grant account, you can ensure that your ads reach the right audience and attract engaged users who are interested in your nonprofit’s mission and services. This, in turn, can lead to increased donations, volunteer sign-ups, and support for your cause.
  • Compliance with Google’s requirements: Google has specific requirements and guidelines for participating in the Google Ad Grant program. Failure to meet these requirements can result in account suspension, making optimization crucial to maintaining eligibility.

Remember, even with the Google Ad Grant, your nonprofit is competing with paid advertisers for ad space. Optimization helps level the playing field, allowing you to stand out and succeed in the highly competitive digital advertising landscape.

7 Steps to Optimize Your Google Grant Account

Now that you understand the importance of optimizing a Google Grant account, let’s explain how to actually do it!

1. Partner with a qualified Google Ad Grants agency.

Without prior experience, optimizing a Google Grant Account can be a daunting task. Thankfully, there are Google Ad Grants agencies that provide valuable expertise and insight into the process.

Here are just a few areas of our recommended agency, Getting Attention’s expertise:

  • Account setup: Getting Attention assists nonprofits in setting up their Google Ad Grants account correctly, ensuring compliance with all program policies and eligibility requirements.
  • Google Grant reactivation: If your account lapses or is disabled, Getting Attention will get your Google Ad Grant reactivated in no time, so you can continue doing the work that matters.
  • Keyword research: Getting Attention conducts thorough keyword research to identify relevant and high-impact keywords aligned with your mission and goals.
  • Campaign monitoring: The Getting Attention team will regularly monitor the performance of ad campaigns, identify areas for improvement, and make data-driven optimizations to enhance results.

By working with an agency like Getting Attention, you can leverage the expertise of professionals who specialize in mission-driven marketing and digital advertising. This partnership will help your nonprofit create more impactful ad campaigns and attract support for your cause.

For more information on the benefits of working with a Google Ad Grant agency, watch this video:

2. Conduct regular keyword research.

Keyword research helps nonprofits understand which search terms and phrases are most frequently used by their target audience and allows them to optimize their ad campaigns accordingly. By regularly conducting keyword research, you ensure that your online content is optimized for the search terms and phrases that are most relevant to your cause.

Keep these tips in mind as you choose your keywords:

  • Understand your nonprofit’s goals. Start by clarifying your nonprofit’s advertising goals. Determine what specific actions you want users to take when they visit your website. For example, do you want them to donate, sign up for a newsletter, volunteer, or learn more about your programs? Understanding your goals will help you identify the most relevant keywords to target.
  • Brainstorm relevant keywords. Consider what potential supporters might search for when looking for organizations like yours and compile a list of relevant keywords. Include general keywords as well as specific terms that align with your goals. For instance, if you run an animal shelter, you might target the keywords “pet adoption” and “how to adopt a rescue dog.”
  • Use Google’s Keyword Planner. Google’s Keyword Planner is a free tool within Google Ads that helps you find relevant keywords and get insights into their search volume and competition. Enter your list of keywords into the Keyword Planner to see how frequently they are searched and get suggestions for other related keywords.

It’s also important to update the negative keywords that you want to exclude from triggering your ads. For example, if your nonprofit focuses on environmental conservation, you may want to add “hunting” or “pollution” as negative keywords to ensure your ads are shown only to the most relevant audiences.

3. Create well-structured ad groups.

Google Ad Groups are a way of organizing ads within your account. An ad group typically contains a set of ads that share similar targets, such as keywords, locations, or devices.

This diagram illustrates the required Google Ad Grant account structure.

Well-defined ad groups allow for better targeting, ensuring that the right messaging is delivered to the right people.

Here’s an example of how a marine conservation nonprofit might organize ads according to the two different programs they offer:

Ad Group 1: “Marine Wildlife Conservation”
Keywords: Marine wildlife conservation, ocean conservation, marine species protection
Ad Copy: “Help Protect Marine Wildlife. Support Our Ocean Conservation Efforts Today!”

Ad Group 2: “Beach Cleanup Volunteers”
Keywords: Beach cleanup, ocean cleanup volunteer, coastal cleanup
Ad Copy: “Join Our Beach Cleanup Volunteers. Make a Difference for Our Oceans.”

Continuously review and refine your keyword list for each ad group. Add new relevant keywords and remove irrelevant or low-performing ones.

4. Write compelling ad copy.

Well-crafted ad copy encourages users to click on the ad to learn more about your organization. To maximize your click-through rate (CTR), take these steps:

  • Craft compelling headlines. Write attention-grabbing headlines that are concise, clear, and highlight the unique value proposition of your nonprofit.
  • Use relevant keywords. Incorporate relevant keywords into your ad copy, especially in the headline and description. When users see the keywords they searched for in your ad, it increases the ad’s relevance, making them more likely to click.
  • Include a strong call-to-action (CTA). Include a clear and persuasive CTA that encourages users to take the desired action. Use verbs to prompt action, such as “Donate Now,” “Volunteer Today,” or “Learn More.”

If you’re in need of inspiration, review other top-ranking ads to see what they’re doing right.

For instance, let’s say you’re trying to target keywords related to food insecurity. Do a quick Google search to see what’s ranking number #1 for these queries:

This screenshot of a SERP shows the top ranking headlines for the search term "how to fight food insecurity" and is an example of how to optimize a Google Grant account.

Then, craft your ad copy with these top-ranking ads in mind, possibly emulating those popular “How to” statements in the headline.

5. Establish a landing page strategy.

Landing pages that you link in your ads should be designed to convert visitors into donors, volunteers, or supporters. For the best results, ensure that your landing pages are:

  • Relevant: The content and messaging on the landing page should directly align with the ad copy and the user’s search intent. Make sure visitors receive the information they’re looking for after clicking on the ad.
  • Mobile-friendly: Given the prevalence of mobile users, it’s crucial to have a mobile-friendly landing page. Ensure that the page is responsive and displays correctly on various screen sizes.
  • Visually appealing: The landing page should feature design and branding elements that reinforce your nonprofit’s identity and create a cohesive user experience. This includes using your organization’s logo, typography, and color scheme to establish brand recognition.

Conduct A/B testing (also known as split testing) on your landing pages to identify which elements resonate best with your audience. Continuously re-test and optimize these elements over time to improve the page’s performance.

6. Use conversion tracking.

Google Ads conversion tracking allows advertisers to measure the effectiveness of their ad campaigns by tracking specific actions that users take after clicking on their ads. Not only is setting up conversion tracking beneficial to your ad performance, but it’s also a requirement of the Google Ad Grant. Here’s how it works:

  • Advertisers define the specific actions they want to track as conversions. This could be completing a donation, filling out a contact form, signing up for a newsletter, or any other valuable action that aligns with the campaign’s objectives.
  • Once the conversion actions are defined, Google Ads generates a unique snippet of code called a “conversion tag” or “tracking pixel” for each conversion action. This code needs to be placed on the relevant web page or confirmation page that users see after completing the desired action (i.e., the “thank you” page after a successful donation).
  • When a user clicks on an ad and performs the desired action on the website, such as donating, the conversion tag on the confirmation page is triggered.
  • The triggered conversion tag sends data back to Google Ads, indicating that the conversion action has been completed. Google Ads then associates this data with the specific ad click that led to the conversion.

In the Google Ads dashboard, your team can view conversion data, including the number of conversions, conversion rate, and cost per conversion. Armed with that data, evaluate the performance of your campaigns and identify which ads are driving the most valuable actions.

7. Stay up-to-date on Google Ad Grant policies.

The main policies of the Google Ad Grant program include maintaining a minimum 5% click-through rate (CTR) across the account, adhering to a maximum cost-per-click (CPC) bid limit of $2, and using only text-based ads without images or videos. Nonprofits must also comply with Google’s website policy, ensuring transparency and relevance in their ad campaigns and website content.

Since these policies are subject to change, it’s important to stay informed. To keep up with Google Ad Grant policies and maintain compliance, follow these steps:

  • Visit the Google Ad Grants website. Regularly check the official Google Ad Grants website for the most up-to-date information on program policies, eligibility requirements, and guidelines.
  • Subscribe to certified Google Ad Grant newsletters. Sign up for newsletters to receive updates, announcements, and insights directly from Google.
  • Follow Google Ads and Google for Nonprofits on social media. Follow Google Ads and Google for Nonprofits on social media platforms like LinkedIn. They often share important updates and news about the Ad Grant program.

Set regular calendar reminders to check for policy updates and review your Google Ad Grant account’s compliance.

A Final Note About Optimizing Your Google Grant Account

Although optimizing a Google Ad Grant account requires consistent time and effort, it will ultimately lead to increased visibility for your nonprofit.

If you’re still not sure where to start, remember there are Google Ad Grant agencies like Getting Attention that will work alongside your nonprofit to create a digital advertising strategy that aligns with your goals.

For more information on Google Ad Grants, check out these additional resources:

Ready to make the most of your $10,000 a month in free ad spend? Click here to partner with our recommended agency, Getting Attention.
Learn how to apply for the Google Ad Grant in this comprehensive guide.

How to Apply for the Google Ad Grant: A Comprehensive Guide

If you’re a nonprofit professional looking for an affordable way to expand your organization’s online presence and reach a wider audience, then you’re in the right place. The Google Ad Grant offers eligible nonprofits up to $10,000 a month in free advertising on Google.

But with so many organizations vying for the grant, how do you stand out from the competition and secure the funding you deserve? That’s where this guide comes in.

Whether you’re a tech-savvy marketer or a nonprofit newbie, we’ll teach you how to apply for the Google Ad Grant and ensure that you’re prepared to maximize the benefits of free ad spend. Let’s get started!

FAQs About the Google Ad Grant Application

Before we dive into the specifics of the Google Ad Grant application process, let’s answer some frequently asked questions.

1. What is the Google Ad Grant?

The Google Ad Grant is a powerful digital marketing tool that provides eligible nonprofits with up to $10,000 in free ad spend per month. The grant can be used to create search ads in order to drive more traffic to the nonprofit’s website or to attract more donations and volunteers.

Here’s how it works: With a Google Ad Grants account, you create ads to show on Google Search. When a user searches for terms relevant to your nonprofit’s cause, your ads will appear either independently or in positions below paid ads.

For more information on the Google Ad Grant, watch this video:

2. What are the benefits of applying for the Google Ad Grant?

The Google Ad Grant program empowers nonprofits to target specific keywords relevant to their cause and optimize their online presence. That way, when someone searches for a term related to your mission, your content is most likely to appear at the top of the search results and attract their attention (as well as their support).

Plus, the Google Ad Grant program provides access to free ad spend. Rather than having to allocate a significant portion of your budget to digital marketing, you can invest in other critical areas of your organization’s operations and programs.

3. How long does the Google Ad Grant application process take?

The timeline for the application process can vary based on several factors, including the responsiveness of your nonprofit, the completeness of your application, and the volume of applications being reviewed by Google.

How to Apply for the Google Ad Grant in 5 Steps

Now that you know what the grant is and how it can benefit your nonprofit, let’s explore how to effectively apply for the Google Ad Grant:

This graphic lists 5 steps to applying for the Google Ad Grant, which will be written out in the text below.

1. Verify your organization’s eligibility

To be eligible to apply for the Google Ad Grant, your organization must:

  • Be a verified nonprofit. Nonprofits need to be a verified nonprofit in their country of operation. In the United States, this means achieving 501(c)(3) status.
  • Enroll in Google for Nonprofits or TechSoup. If your organization is not already registered with TechSoup or Google for Nonprofits, sign up and complete the registration process. These platforms help validate your nonprofit status.
  • Have a functional and secure website. You must have a functioning website with substantial content related to its mission and programs. The website should also be HTTP-certified.
  • Comply with Ad Grants policies. Agree to comply with all Google Ad Grants policies and guidelines, including those related to acceptable content, quality standards, and website requirements.

Keep in mind that eligibility requirements may vary slightly depending on the country or region where the nonprofit operates. Review the specific guidelines provided by Google for Nonprofits in your respective country to ensure you’re compliant.

3. Complete the Google Ad Grants enrollment process

Visit the Google Ad Grants website and follow the instructions to enroll your organization. Provide the necessary information about your nonprofit, such as:

  • Basic information about your nonprofit organization, such as its name, address, and website.
  • Your organization’s registered charity number or equivalent legal status documentation.
  • The location and type of activities your nonprofit conducts.
  • Your organization’s mission statement and how Google Ads will help further that mission.
  • A brief summary of your current online advertising efforts, if any.
  • A description of the target audience for your ads.
  • Your marketing goals and what you hope to achieve with the Ad Grants program.

It’s important to fill out the eligibility form accurately and completely, as incomplete or inaccurate information may delay or prevent your nonprofit from being approved for the Google Ad Grants program.

3. Build a strong website

Ensure that your website has relevant and high-quality content that aligns with your organization’s mission and the keywords you plan to target in your ad campaigns.

In addition to designing informative and engaging pages that provide value to visitors, you should:

  • Write clear calls to action (CTAs). Place clear and compelling calls to action throughout your website to encourage visitors to take desired actions, such as donating, signing up for newsletters, volunteering, or attending events. Make the CTAs prominent, easily clickable, and enticing, so visitors are more likely to engage with your organization.
  • Ensure a mobile-friendly design. Optimize your website for mobile devices as a significant portion of online traffic comes from mobile users. Ensure that your website is responsive and provides a seamless user experience across different screen sizes and devices. Mobile-friendly websites are preferred by Google and offer a better experience for your visitors.
  • Set up conversion tracking. Implement conversion tracking and use analytics tools, such as Google Analytics, to measure the effectiveness of your Google Ad Grant campaigns and website performance. Track key metrics like click-through rates, conversions, and bounce rates to gain insights into the impact of your ads and identify areas for improvement.

By following these tips, you can enhance the user experience, increase engagement, and maximize the impact of your Google Ad Grant campaigns. Remember to regularly review and optimize your website based on user behavior and campaign performance data to continuously improve your results.

4. Craft compelling campaigns

Develop an effective advertising strategy to promote your organization and its initiatives. This involves:

  • Identifying target keywords. Conduct thorough keyword research to identify relevant and targeted keywords for your ad campaigns. Use tools like Google Keyword Planner to discover keywords with high search volume and low competition. Focus on keywords that align with your nonprofit’s mission, services, or target audience.
  • Creating engaging ad copy. Craft compelling ad copy that grabs the attention of your audience. Highlight your nonprofit’s unique value proposition and include a clear call to action. Use language that resonates with your target audience and showcases the impact of their support.
  • Designing compelling landing pages. Ensure that your ad campaigns direct users to relevant landing pages on your website. For instance, if you’re asking users to donate, the CTA should link to the donation page on your website. These pages should have clear and concise information and easy navigation to encourage conversions.

Continuously test and optimize your ad campaigns to improve performance. Conduct A/B testing by creating variations of your ads and measuring their effectiveness. Test different headlines, ad copy, call to actions, and visuals to identify what resonates best with your audience and drives higher click-through rates and conversions.

5. Submit your application

Once you submit your application for the Google Ad Grant program, it will be reviewed by Google to ensure compliance with the program guidelines and policies. As previously mentioned, the approval process varies but typically takes a few weeks. During this time, Google may request additional information or clarifications.

Then, you’ll receive a notification from Google regarding the status of your application. If approved, you can begin using your Google Ad Grant to run ads and promote your nonprofit!

A Final Note About the Google Ad Grant Application

The Google Ad Grants program offers a valuable opportunity for nonprofit organizations to promote their missions online with free Google Ads. If you need assistance throughout the application process, consider working with our recommended Google Ad Grants agency: Getting Attention.

Their team of experts will ensure that your nonprofit meets the eligibility requirements, submits a successful application, and leverages the Google Ad Grant effectively.

For more information on the Google Ad Grant, check out these additional resources:

This article will review employee recruitment best practices.

Employee Recruitment — Nonprofit Catalog

Picture this: You’re running your most successful phone-a-thon fundraiser in years. Your marketing strategy really hit home, and your phones are ringing off the hook. There’s one problem, though. You simply don’t have enough employees to manage the incoming calls. 

You have tons of donors ready to give, but you lack the operational capacity to manage their generosity. What’s the end result? Missed opportunities and a decline in donor retention. Maybe this example is a little extreme, but the principle is true. Nonprofits that avoid recruiting high-value employees tend to run some serious risks. 

Great employees not only help you crush your to-dos, but they also bring a fresh level of passion and commitment to your organization. In fact, 88% of millennials consider their job more fulfilling when they have opportunities to have a positive impact on society.

Kickstarting the employee recruitment process can seem daunting at first, but it helps if you break the process down into manageable steps.

What is employee recruitment?

Employee recruitment is the process of connecting with potential new employees to assess whether they’d be a good fit for an organization’s open positions. This process can take a while to perfect and will look different as your organization evolves. 

Ideally, recruiting employees is a win-win for your organization. Nonprofits fill positions with capable employees and individuals find a place to work that aligns with their values and schedule. Finding these employees can be trial and error, that’s why it’s important to implement a detailed employee recruitment and review process.

Why do organizations need recruitment strategies?

Filling positions can be time-consuming and challenging. By setting hiring and recruitment strategies, you can acquire the right talent, drive growth, and adapt to changing circumstances without spending as much time as you would otherwise. 

Let’s break down some of the most important reasons to develop a recruitment plan:

This graphic explains the reasons to develop an employee recruitment plan, listed below.
  • Innovation and Growth: Fresh perspectives and diverse skill sets brought in through thoughtful recruitment can lead to new ideas and increased productivity.
  • Adaptation to Change: As your organization’s needs evolve, you may need to adapt your workforce to address those changes. Recruitment strategies enable you to respond to changing market conditions, technological advancements, and industry trends.
  • Better Matches for Positions: You want to hire the right people for the job, and creating recruitment strategies will help you find individuals who possess the right skills and are a good culture fit. In turn, that can also improve employee satisfaction and performance once they get up and running.
  • Reduced Costs: Carefully planned recruitment strategies can help control recruitment costs by optimizing the selection process and reducing turnover rates.

A solid employee recruitment and hiring plan can support your organization in a variety of ways, from staying on top of industry changes to generally finding good fits for your team. In turn, you’ll be able to fill immediate staffing needs and impact the long-term success of your organization.

What are the steps of the employee recruitment process?

An employee recruitment process can be tailored to each position and changed over time. However, it’s helpful to have a general guideline to refer back to. Let’s take a look at some defined steps:

  1. Set a goal. Assess which areas of your organization could use some extra management or expertise. This might be a goal for how many employees you’d like to bring on board or what roles you’re looking to fill at your organization.
  2. Write a comprehensive job description. Include your job requirements, preferred experience, and what a day in the life of this position would look like. Feel free to also detail what qualifications an ideal candidate would have to offer.
  3. Update your benefits. Take a total rewards approach to compensation, especially if you’re recruiting for nonprofit positions. This approach views employee compensation holistically, taking into account not only salary but also indirect benefits like paid time off and retirement benefits. This, in turn, leads to higher performance levels and productivity.
  4. Promote your open positions widely. When recruiting employees, LinkedIn is a go-to. Other online job boards and in-person recruitment fairs are great places to promote your new positions as well. To prepare for in-person networking events and fairs, carry printed promotional materials to explain your organization.
  5. Conduct targeted recruitment. Reach out directly to prospective employees with the right qualifications. If you’ve done some digging on LinkedIn, message a qualified potential candidate directly. Let them know why you think they’d be a good fit and offer your contact information to facilitate future communication.

Throughout this process, keep your options open by casting a wide net. You may have your heart set on a couple of candidates, but keep in mind that plans change for a variety of reasons. Your main goal should be to recruit as many qualified candidates as possible. The next section will show you how to conduct interviews that effectively filter through these candidates.

8 tips for a successful interview process

After you’ve set up interviews with potential recruits, you must ensure that your interview process is well-thought-through to find the right candidate for the job. Make sure that each candidate understands and aligns with your organization’s values, whether they involve giving back to the community, strengthening your diversity and inclusion initiatives, or being responsive to customers.

Follow these tips to hold productive interviews:   

  • Thank candidates for their time. Usually, high-value candidates are not on the job market for long. Thank them for devoting their time to the interview. 
  • Make candidates feel comfortable. Provide a brief overview of the topics you’ll cover in the interview ahead of time. This helps candidates settle in and mentally prepare. 
  • Ask insightful questions. Open-ended questions can give a full picture of the candidate’s professional background and personality. Consider questions like:
    • Why are you interested in this position? 
    • What strengths would you bring to this position?
    • What kind of working environment do you perform best in? 
    • What are you passionate about? 
    • What are some professional accomplishments that you are proud of?
This image features a list of insightful interview questions to ask during your employee recruitment process.
  • Give your candidates enough time to answer your questions. Pace your questions so that a candidate can answer them fully. Otherwise, your interview can feel more like a rapid-fire interrogation. If a candidate is confused by a question, rephrase it in a way they can understand.
  • Leave time for your candidates to ask you questions. Candidates are interviewing you too. If a candidate has done their research about your organization, they most likely will have some questions. Leave enough time to answer their inquiries and provide your contact information if more questions come up.
  • Provide an expected timeline. End your interview by providing an expectation for when you are going to reach back out to the candidate. The usual response period is between one to two weeks. 
  • Check references. Ask your candidates to provide a reference sheet with two to three references and their contact information. Check these references and their credentials before hiring any new candidates. 
  • Follow up when candidates don’t get the job. It’s helpful to provide closure for applicants and explain why you’re going in a different direction. This ensures you don’t burn any bridges. 

In-depth interview processes proactively assess a candidate’s qualifications. Once you have decided on your candidates, be sure to extend them a warm welcome to your team. Keep in mind that regular employee performance reviews are also necessary to keep your team in tip-top shape. Once hired, employees expect consistent and honest feedback for their work.

How do we keep recruited team members engaged?

Recruitment takes a lot of energy and funds, so you want to ensure that the candidates you pick stay for the long term. Here are some tactics you can use to boost your recruitment’s ROI and keep team members engaged:

Open communication between management and directs

Make your organization feel like a close-knit team by encouraging open communication in the workplace. Schedule consistent one-on-one meetings between new employees and managers to help them surmount challenges, boost confidence, and progress in their roles. Doing so allows them to have more frequent conversations about their work approach and feel supported at your company.

At the same time, encourage managers to share regular feedback with their directs, recognizing outstanding performance and sharing areas where they can improve moving forward. This approach removes any uncertainty or guesswork among employees regarding their performance.

Offer upward mobility

A stagnant work structure may lead to employee burnout and disengagement from your organization. Studies show that employees experiencing burnout are 3.4 times more likely to leave the company and nearly 2 times more likely to feel disconnected from company culture. Fortunately, you can minimize the risk of burnout and disengagement by giving employees the opportunity to grow and take on more significant responsibilities over time.

One easy way to accomplish this is to offer professional development opportunities. These may range from a mentorship program to online courses. As a result, you’ll not only keep employees invested in their roles, but you’ll also help them improve their performance in those roles.

Embrace peer-to-peer recognition

While your employees may receive positive feedback in one-on-one meetings with upper management, it’s crucial to provide peers with the option to recognize one another as well. For instance, you might implement a system where peers can nominate each other to be Team Member of the Month or have a corkboard where they can publicly shout out their colleagues for outstanding work.

If you’re looking to build a stronger sense of community within teams, consider planning events for birthday celebrations or work anniversaries. These activities can go a long way toward making employees feel appreciated by both their peers and higher-ups.

Involve employees in decision-making

Employees want to know that management values their ideas. With this in mind, open the floor for them to provide suggestions about your organization’s culture or strategies by sending out regular surveys soliciting their feedback.

Consider asking questions in these key areas:

  • Role satisfaction
  • Company values
  • Workplace culture
  • Team communication
  • Work-life balance

Even if you don’t accept all suggestions, it’s important to acknowledge and express gratitude to employees for taking the time to provide their input.

Respect work-life balance

While your employees work for you to make a living, work should not be their entire lives. Respect work-life boundaries by clearly delineating your expectations for work hours and limiting work-related communication on the weekends.

Furthermore, encourage employees to take breaks and consider offering flexible work hours so they can adjust their schedules to maximize productivity. Promote their overall well-being by initiating wellness activities and providing mental health support resources to employees.

Empower employees to be independent

You chose your job candidates because you see potential in them to make an impact on your organization. Enable them to explore projects they’re interested in, take ownership of their assignments, and make independent decisions. They’ll feel much more confident and fulfilled in their roles, and you may even cultivate future leaders within your company.

Create a workplace giving program

Three out of four U.S. employees want to work for a company that makes a positive impact on the world. By launching a workplace giving program, you’ll be able to retain the employees you recruit and attract even more top talent to your company.

There are many types of workplace giving you can pursue, such as matching gifts and volunteer grants. Through these programs, your company will contribute a certain amount of funds to nonprofits that employees donate their money or time to.

To facilitate these philanthropic initiatives, consider investing in workplace giving software. These technology solutions make it easy to organize your program, engage employees, and report on impact.

As your employee base changes over time, so should your engagement strategies. Gauge the effectiveness of your strategies as time passes by sending surveys, researching new trends, and staying open to suggestions from your employees.

Additional Resources

Incorporating Events into Your Member Recruitment Strategy

Event planning is one of many important parts of effective association management. A well-planned association event not only boosts your revenue and engages existing members, but it can recruit new ones as well.

Members make an association. And recruiting new members is just as important as retaining current members! Recruiting helps association growth and keeps numbers up when old members leave.

In this guide, we’ll discuss five essential ways your organization can incorporate events into your member recruitment strategy to enhance your results.

1. Determine your target audience

Before you begin planning an upcoming event to increase member recruitment, it’s important to understand your association’s target audience. There are different reasons for someone to attend an association event. Here are some common motivations:

  • Education: For attendees who want to learn more about a specific subject, consider having a speaker or a workshop on a specific topic relevant to your association.
  • Professional networking: For those who want to build connections for their professional social network, hold roundtable discussions, lectures, and workshops. Just make sure attendees have ample downtime between activities to socialize.
  • Socializing: Many people attend events to meet new people. Almost any kind of event will work for this! Try holding trivia or other fun activities that get people involved and talking.
  • Community involvement: Many attendees are interested in giving back to their community, so consider holding charity events that help them make a positive difference.

By understanding how to appeal to potential members’ values and interests, you can choose the right type of event to attract them.

2. Plan how you’ll engage potential members

Plan your association event with potential members in mind. You should always be thinking about the specific individuals you’re trying to draw in. It’s always a good idea to plan as much of your event in advance as possible. This way, everyone helping at the event knows exactly what they’re meant to be doing and how they can connect to potential members.

Consider hosting an event that both members and non-members are free to attend. Or consider inviting potential members to attend a members-only event as guests. No matter the event, you can prepare welcome packets containing important membership details to pass out to these non-members at the event.

To provide added convenience to potential members, consider making your event hybrid or virtual so that even those who may be unable to attend in person can participate.

At this point in time, most people are very familiar with attending virtual events, which makes it easy and convenient. This also broadens your audience and lets you reach more people. You can reach people who may live further away but are still excited to join. 

Having this option is a great way to attract people who are interested in your association but haven’t been able to make it to in-person events previously. They’ll be even more excited for this one! 

3. Enlist your current members to help at your event

Make the most of your existing members’ connections by enlisting them to help with member recruitment at your next association event.

Having current members there is a great way to introduce potential members to your association. It’s also a great way for potential members to form connections within the association through current members. A personal connection goes a long way.

Ask for volunteers from your members to become ambassadors at the event. They can encourage potential members to join your association by:

  • Welcoming guests
  • Sharing their experience as a member
  • Answering membership-related questions
  • Introducing them to other members at the event

Furthermore, encourage existing members to invite a non-member acquaintance, work colleague, or friend who might be interested in becoming a member.

Using existing networks is a great way to find new members. A person coming to an event through someone they know is more likely to join up if they have a personal connection to your organization already. 

4. Emphasize member benefits

Make it easy for event attendees to embark on their membership journey to your association by highlighting specific member benefits at the event. Show them why they should join! 

At the event, you can include benefits in your welcome packet. You can also consider passing out one-page sheets listing the benefits. Having the benefits highlighted in their own handout can be helpful to make them more clear.

You can also go into more detail if they’re separate, rather than trying to fit it all into the welcome packet, which should be concise. Provide a link to your website on anything you hand out, or another place where they can learn more.

Just a few member benefit ideas you can highlight include:

  • Discounts and coupons
  • Member directory
  • Mentorship programs
  • Exclusive online content
  • Professional training and certifications

Member benefits will be different for every association. Again, think about your audience. Who are they? What do you think would benefit them? What do you think they’d be most interested in?

5. Follow up with event attendees

In addition to your usual thank-you emails to everyone who attended your event, follow up specifically with your non-member event attendees about joining your association.

Give them a clear path, both during and after the event, for how to join your organization. Make the process as easy and clear as possible. Nothing stops a potential member more than a lengthy and difficult-to-understand application process. Having a straightforward application process should always be an important part of your member recruitment strategy.

There are many things you can fit into a thank you email. Here are some suggestions:

  • First of all, thank them for coming!
  • Tell them about the next event they can attend.
  • Link them to further information about your organization. This could be your website, which should have benefits laid out again, and a clear way to join your association.
  • Invite them to subscribe to a regular newsletter so they can hear about what’s happening next. These little updates and reminders help keep your organization in their mind and make them more likely to join.

Show them that you care about their experience with your organization by sending out post-event surveys to gather their feedback and make improvements for future events.

Events can give potential members a clearer picture of what membership in your association looks like. Therefore, it’s critical to plan an enjoyable and memorable event experience for all attendees. In this article, we’ve given five ways to help you improve your member recruitment strategy. Following these five tips will help turn your next recruitment event into a success!

Understanding the Fundraising Consultant Hiring Process

Understanding the Fundraising Consultant Hiring Process

Working with the right consultant can change the trajectory of your organization’s fundraising. No matter what kind of support you need, whether it’s planning a capital campaign or conducting a fundraising assessment, a fundraising consultant can help. 

But how do you find the perfect consultant for your organization, and how exactly do you hire one? To help you understand what the fundraising consultant hiring process looks like, we’ll cover the most important elements:

  • Assessing Your Organization’s Needs
  • Requests for Proposals (RFPs)
  • Consultant Research
  • Making Your Decision

Once you go through the hiring process, your nonprofit will end up with a valuable resource who can help you make lasting changes to your organization’s fundraising approach. Let’s dive in so you can start reaping those benefits!

Assessing Your Organization’s Needs

Similar to the process you go through when choosing new fundraising software to invest in, you’ll first need to determine exactly what you need from the consultant. Assess your resources, goals, and recent campaign performance to determine which areas of fundraising you need help with. 

Some common focus areas that fundraising consultants can assist you with include: 

  • Major donor research and cultivation: If you’re not meeting your fundraising goals because you don’t have enough major donors, a consultant can help you find the most likely prospects and strategically build relationships with them.
  • Capital campaigns: Need to fund a major building or project? Your fundraising consultant can conduct a feasibility study to make sure you’re ready, work with you to develop an effective case for support, and see you through the entire planning stage. Plus, they can provide you with ongoing guidance throughout the campaign.
  • Strategic planning: No matter what size campaign you’re planning, a qualified consultant will get familiar with your nonprofit’s needs and goals to develop a thorough campaign strategy designed to drive success.
  • General approach to fundraising: Maybe your team is new to hosting fundraisers or your traditional tactics just seem to be falling flat. Consultants can train your team on today’s fundraising best practices or even hire new staff members to support your organization’s long-term development.

After determining the type of fundraising support you’ll need from your consultant, be sure to  define specific goals for their involvement. What outcomes do you want to achieve with their help? Set concrete goals, such as securing 10 major gifts within the next year or increasing the total value of individual donations by 20%.

Request for Proposals (RFPs)

Next, you’ll use the goals you set to create an RFP, or Request for Proposals. RFPs are documents your organization creates to outline why you’re searching for a consultant, explain what you’re looking for, and ask prospects to send in proposals for consideration. 

RFPs keep your search on track and give prospective consultants a clear idea of the services you require. To write one effectively, Donorly’s fundraising consultant hiring guide breaks down everything your RFP should include:

  • Purpose: Explain why you’re hiring a consultant, what your specific needs are, and what you ultimately hope to achieve. If you need them to work on a specific campaign, explain the basic purpose of the campaign here.
  • Organizational information: Give a quick overview of what your nonprofit does and the causes you support. Include information on how long you’ve been operating and the fundraising strategies and tools you already use, as well. 
  • Details about the project: Outline the scope, timeline, work expectations, and budget for the project the consultant will work on, including as much detail as possible.
  • Goals for the relationship: Define specific success measurements for the project and the consultant’s work. Include how and when you’ll evaluate progress. 
  • Submission guidelines: Let prospective consultants know everything their proposals need to include, and set a due date. 

Once you’ve created a draft, run the RFP by your board for final approval. After researching options and selecting consultants you’re interested in learning more about, you’ll send your RFP to each one. Each consultant will then use these guidelines to create their own proposals, which you’ll use to determine the best fit.

Consultant Research

Now that you’ve outlined your needs and goals in your RFP, you can begin searching for potential consultants!

There are multiple avenues for consultant research. Start by reaching out to your colleagues and connections at other nonprofits to ask for recommendations. You might attend nonprofit panels that fundraising consultants participate in to hear about their services. Or, conduct research online using general Google searches or by visiting reputable websites like The Giving Institute or AFP’s fundraising consultant directory

As you research consultants, pay attention to each one’s:

  • Services and specialties
  • Case studies and examples of their work
  • Type of organizations they typically work with 
  • Fundraising philosophies
  • Location or ability to work with you remotely

Take notes on every consultant that stands out throughout your research, then bring your team together to discuss your findings. Based on these factors, narrow down your options to a list of 5-10 consultants you think could be the best fit.

Making Your Decision

As soon as you have your list of prospective consultants, you can jump into the process of sending RFPs and evaluating the candidates. To make a decision, follow these steps:

  1. Reach out to consultants and send RFPs: Email or call everyone on your list before sending your RFP to state your interest. Introducing yourself upfront will help you get to know candidates and start relationships off on the right foot. After this initial outreach, send RFPs and give the consultants at least two weeks to send their proposals in.
  2. Review proposals: Compile a team of staff members to review the submitted proposals together and discuss each one’s merits. Then, select a few consultants you feel confident about and want to interview.
  3. Conduct interviews and check references: Sit down with each of your top contenders and ask them anything more you need to know. For example, if they’ll be training your team, ask them detailed questions about their fundraising training process. Ask for a few references at the interview, then use them to verify the quality of their work. 
  4. Create and send a contract: Once you’ve made your final decision, you can draft a contract! Include information about compensation, key performance indicators, and the scope of their responsibilities. 

To make your final choice, consider factors like the quality of the consultant’s previous work, how their proposal aligns with your needs, and their personal fit with your nonprofit’s culture. According to eCardWidget, your company culture is made up of your organizational values, attitudes, and practices. It’s important that everyone working with your nonprofit aligns with its culture to ensure satisfaction. 

The consultant hiring process can feel like a big time commitment, but think of it as an investment. The more careful thought and dedication you put into the process, the better results you’ll see when you find the right fit. Fundraising consultants can give your organization the tools to thrive for years to come and ultimately do more of what matters, so they’re worth taking the time to find.

The Damage of Nonprofit Employee Churn & How to Prevent It

We’re living in an unusual labor environment—historically low but rising unemployment rates, high inflation, conflicting signs that may or may not point to an impending recession. We’re also seeing highly active labor movements and changing norms following the significant changes brought about by the pandemic and Great Resignation.

Economic anxieties are at a high, so nonprofits naturally have a lot on their minds. When instability is on the radar, most organizations know to strengthen their donor and partner relationships while seeking new ways to diversify their revenue—but look inward, too.

The internal health of an organization is essential for its overall health. Employee retention plays a critically important role. 

Let’s take a closer look at the state of employee turnover for nonprofits. Why is it so harmful, and how can you prevent it?

What’s the average nonprofit turnover rate?

The voluntary turnover rate for the nonprofit sector averaged 19% in 2022. It also sits consistently higher than turnover at for-profit businesses.

Historically, 19% turnover is typical, but looking at recent years, we can see some interesting trends. The turnover rate rose to a high of 21% in 2019 but dropped to a low of 14% in 2020 (NonprofitHR). One possible explanation is that the disruptions of the pandemic and the drastically increased need for nonprofit services during that time kept many nonprofit professionals in their jobs. 

Since then, the turnover rate has steadily increased to pre-pandemic norms as part of the Great Resignation, with many employees across sectors finding new opportunities. Perhaps your own organization saw the same trends play out at a reduced scale since 2019—a good reminder that while there are many causes of turnover that you can control, there are also external forces that you can’t

But just because you can’t directly control the forces that drive turnover doesn’t mean you can’t adapt to them! After the disruptions of recent years, nonprofits are already making positive changes. 

Specifically, NonprofitHR’s 2022 retention survey found that more nonprofits are now actively tracking employee retention metrics (+4%) and developing formal retention strategies (+13%) than in 2021.

This is great news—it’s impossible to reduce turnover and mitigate its damage without a concrete plan or data to inform it. It would seem that many nonprofits have learned from the lessons of the pandemic years to improve their employee management approach.

So what were those lessons exactly? What are the extended negative impacts of churn?

Why is employee churn so harmful?

There are many reasons why a high turnover rate is harmful to organizations, and they can amplify each other over time if left unchecked, making it increasingly difficult to retain talent. The key risks to consider include:

  • Financial cost. First, losing employees is costly. The hiring process to find replacements takes time and resources.
  • Opportunity cost. Time spent rehiring is time that could otherwise go towards revenue-generating activities. Not to mention, it takes time for new hires to begin reaching the same productivity as more senior team members who departed. For example, The Chronicle of Philanthropy estimates that it takes four years for fundraisers to reach full productivity in their roles.
  • Cultural and brand damage. Poor retention harms morale, especially if employees feel overworked when empty roles aren’t filled, creating an environment prone to further turnover. These impacts can then spread to harm your organizational brand as a whole, with employees feeling burnt out or disengaged from the mission.

For nonprofits specifically, these risks are heightened. Nonprofits usually operate on tight budgets, making the felt effects of turnover-related financial and opportunity costs especially pronounced. Nonprofits also rely heavily on relationships with donors, sponsors, and funders to sustain their work—relationships built by individual fundraisers or development officers. If these relationships are too siloed, that fundraiser’s departure can make it very difficult to maintain their valuable relationships.

Not to mention, nonprofits need positive public perceptions to continue fundraising and operating their programs effectively. Inconsistent staffing and a reputation as a place where people don’t want to work can cause your community to become disengaged or even lose trust in your nonprofit.

How can you reduce or eliminate these risks?

Enough of the gloomy stuff—what are the steps you can take to prevent these negative impacts from taking root in your organization?

1. Combat turnover.

It seems self-evident, but to avoid the damage of employee turnover, you should actively combat it by prioritizing retention. 

Although more nonprofits now actively develop retention strategies, many still don’t. And those that do often haven’t been able to devote much attention to management in the past, so their retention approaches may not be rooted in best practices. What do you need to know about employee retention?

Start by understanding the key elements of an effective strategy. According to Graham-Pelton’s retention guide for nonprofits, these include:

  • Benefits and compensation
  • Learning and development
  • Organizational culture
  • Employee engagement
  • Career progression
  • Recruiting practices
  • Management styles

Within these categories fall a wide variety of tactics you can use to engage and retain employees. There’s no one specific arrangement that will work for every nonprofit. Rather, each organization should seek to find the right ratio of tactics that mesh with their cultures, values, and communities. Ensuring that each category is represented will make your overall strategy more effective and well-rounded. 

But there are a few big-picture best practices that successful retention strategies share. As you develop your unique configuration of retention tactics, keep these in mind:

  • Foster an engaging environment that prioritizes communication and transparency. Explain whyyour organization makes the decisions it does and how employees play roles in its success. 
  • Create meaningful opportunities for development and progression. Offer actual new skills, responsibilities, and certifications, not just empty new titles or busywork, to help grow new leaders internally.
  • Strengthen your recruiting practices. Hiring the right individual for a role will boost the odds of long-term retention. If you feel that your current hiring process is often rushed or not very thorough, give it an update.
  • Offer the benefits that you can and that employees want. Nonprofits often aren’t in positions to offer highly competitive salaries and financial benefits, and employees drawn to nonprofit work understand this. But you must still make an effort to stay competitive in whatever ways you can—modest raises, workplace perks, hybrid work flexibility, etc.
  • Recognize employee achievements. Make recognition a cornerstone of your culture. Acknowledge valuable employee contributions, express gratitude, and explain to that individual or the whole team why their actions were impactful. A variety of recognition tools and platforms make it easy to build out a sustainable approach.

Building out a retention strategy to reduce turnover in the first place is the single best step you can take to mitigate its damage to your nonprofit. 

The best part is that your strategy doesn’t have to be perfect. It should instead be dynamic and adaptive—you won’t know what works best for your unique organization until you try it out, so approach your strategy as a continual learning experience.

2. Reduce knowledge and relationship silos.

With a solid preventative framework in place, we’ll now look at the infrastructural steps you can take to reduce the negative impacts of turnover when it does happen.

The siloing of knowledge and relationships creates undue risks—a departing employee takes their skills and contacts with them. And even if you’re still in touch with a donor after the departure of the gift officer who built that relationship, the relationship may now need to start from square one. To reduce silos, try these best practices:

  • Document your internal processes. All kinds of processes and workarounds develop organically over time, but they shouldn’t just live in one employee’s memory—record them in handbooks, manuals, flowcharts, or notes to simplify the work of other (and future) employees.
  • Develop concrete reporting protocols, specifically for donations and donor interactions. Clear records of who’s given, when, how much, and all other touchpoints that have occurred are essential for proper stewardship, and they’ll allow your team to seamlessly maintain relationships with donors even if a donor’s primary contact leaves your organization.
  • Keep your data clean. Data hygiene ensures your records are actually useful. Meticulously recording donor touchpoints will only be helpful if any gift officer on your team can successfully interpret them, so notes should be recorded in clear, straightforward language. Quantitative data points should also all be entered into your system in a consistent way.
  • Standardize your moves management process. Similarly, your gift cultivation and stewardship process should follow a few standardized steps or phases. You likely already have a clear sense of these phases, but is your team referring to them with the same language? Are they designated in your record system? Systematizing this process will ensure that donor relationships can be quickly understood and continued by anyone on your team when needed. 

Consider your regulatory context when looking for ways to reduce knowledge and contact silos. For example, grateful patient fundraising programs are subject to more restrictive patient privacy laws that will impact the specific fundraising and data flows that you can use as an organization. 

3. Give employees the tools and frameworks to succeed.

Equipping and empowering your employees to drive the greatest impact will go a long way to improve retention. When team members don’t need to waste time and energy with clunky systems and processes, they’ll feel more engaged and able to focus on their real tasks—engaging with donors and constituents, facilitating programs, and keeping your organization running.

And if turnover does occur, you’ll have more efficient, resilient, and intuitive processes in place that reduce its negative impacts. 

First, upgrade tech or invest in tech as needed. A modern CRM is a must, as is intuitive fundraising or donation software that truly meets your needs. If you’re feeling locked into a legacy platform that either isn’t offering a great donor experience or creates more problems than it solves for your team, an upgrade is likely a smart move.

And keep in mind that investing in your own ability to drive impact sustainably is an important part of stewarding your mission. Consider whether it’s possible to budget for needed upgrades and new purchases, remembering that sometimes overhead is essential. Or consider conducting a special capacity campaign to fund new investments—always an option if a jolt of capital will take your growth to the next level and you can make a compelling, specific case for support.

Aside from technology, you should also equip your team with the processes, frameworks, and strategies they need to thrive in their roles, especially if your small organization is growing. Ad hoc solutions and approaches may work for a while, but they’re often not scalable. Not only do they become more disorganized over time, but they also lead to worse employee experiences.

Increased organization and efficiency will be key. Moves management and prospect portfolio management systems are great examples of more advanced practices that organizations pick up and adapt as they mature. 

Of course, employee churn isn’t 100% avoidable—some employees will always choose to leave for personal reasons or because they’ve found new opportunities. 

What your nonprofit can control are the internal forces that drive churn and its potential negative impacts, and it’s not hard to take the first steps. Outline a concrete retention strategy if you haven’t yet. Consider if you’re unnecessarily siloing important knowledge or contacts and whether you’re offering tools and processes that make work easier rather than harder.