DonorsChoose allows anyone to help a classroom in need. Public school teachers from all over America create classroom project requests, and individuals can give any amount to a project that inspires them.

The Challenge

With $40,000 per month to spend through a Google AdWords GrantsPro account, DonorsChoose wanted to be sure that each dollar of the grant was being effectively used.

What we did

Through a short-term AdWords-focused project, we helped DonorsChoose build on its existing success with the grant and trained its team to confidently and strategically improve their account over time.

Discovery + Strategy

We started the project with an audit of the DonorsChoose.org AdWords account, followed by a discovery conversation with their team to better understand their goals, priorities, and past struggles with the grant.

We then built an account wireframe to segment DonorsChoose’s core audiences into unique campaigns to make management and budgeting simple. We also conducted in-depth keyword research to understand how teachers and donors search online and used those insights to inform our keyword strategy. For example, using keyword research tools let us know what technology, tools, and lesson plan types teachers are searching for. DonorsChoose can now use those searches to introduce teachers to their website and fill more classrooms with supplies.

Google Analytics Configuration

In order to be sure that the AdWords grant was being used effectively, we knew on-site tracking would need to be set up properly. We conducted a Google Analytics audit to find any issues with configuration and any opportunities to track important on-site actions. We went on to set up goals to track user behavior on DonorsChoose.org, including scroll depth, outbound link clicks, and video views.

We then configured a Google Tag Manager account for DonorsChoose to easily continue tracking important on-site actions. Finally, we built and automated custom AdWords performance dashboards, including a “Report Card” built with Google Data Studio, to keep the DonorsChoose team in the loop on how the account is doing both on-site and on the AdWords platform.

AdWords Account Management

On the AdWords account, we optimized existing campaigns for on-site engagement and built out new campaigns to reach key audiences.

This process included writing new ad copy and setting up A/B tests to see what messaging is most effective for each audience, increasing the CTR by over 4x in some instances. We also A/B tested landing pages and provided mock-ups for updated landing pages to ensure that traffic is being sent to the highest converting pages on DonorsChoose.org.

In the end we were able to max out the account, meaning that DonorsChoose is spending the full $40,000 grant every month — an average of $1,300 in Google ad spends per day.


As part of our overall scope of work, Whole Whale allocated several meetings to training the DonorsChoose team on every piece of the AdWords grant strategy. This included trainings on campaign setup, landing page best practices, and using Google Analytics to understand and optimize account performance. Now, DonorsChoose can continue to optimize the grant for impact and help more classrooms across the US get the materials their students need to succeed.


“The Whole Whale team was knowledgeable, reliable and clear. They enthusiastically and clearly answered our questions both big and small – and not only helped to set up our account for the long run, but equipped our team with the training, knowledge and advice to continue to improve our Adwords Account performance into the future.”

– Abby Feuer, Vice President, Marketing & Community (May 2017)

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