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Free access to premium apps via Google for Nonprofits

 

By Clay Morgan

We’ve covered the advantages of working virtually and several tools to manage teams efficiently, but now we’d like to delve even deeper into Google Apps, one of the most robust virtual management tools for churches. We'll discuss the advantages of this premium suite and walk you through the process of gaining free access through the Google for Nonprofits program.

Advantages of using Google's premium apps

What does it profit a nonprofit to use Google's world class suite of premium products? Probably a great deal, especially when access is free. Many church leaders may not realize how or why they should utilize these powerful resources.

Many churches and small organizations do not have staff or space in their budgets for developing the technological infrastructure needed to create a stronger digital communications strategy. The Google for Nonprofits program equips organizations of all sizes with a variety of great tools, allowing leaders to brand their organization professionally without an IT staff. For instance, churches can use Google’s email system but still keep their own domain address (ex. pastor@1stUMC.com).

The Google Apps suite includes much more than just Gmail. If you've never dabbled in the world of Google tools, you might be surprised to learn that creating and setting up an account is free. Let’s quickly review the best Google tools before discussing the specifics of how you can qualify for free access to the full suite.

Google Drive
Google Drive is a cloud-based alternative to Microsoft Office. Most useful for organizational leaders is the ability to collaborate online and revise documents in real time from any device. Some users do similar work with Microsoft OneDrive, but the ability to share documents with others is greatly streamlined by Google's cloud-based repository. You don't have to worry about finding a file that has been passed around via email for review and revisions, wondering if you have the most recently updated version.

You can create Word-based documents, slide presentations, spreadsheets, forms and more. While they differ from traditional Microsoft Office applications and may not have some of the advanced features of desktop applications, these apps meet most of the daily needs of users. The name “Drive” reflects your storage capacity for documents, photos or whatever else you want to save online. Nonprofit users get 30GB of storage across Gmail and Google Drive.

Google Hangout
Collaboration isn't just about developing documents. With Google Hangouts, you can live broadcast your worship services and conduct meetings or training virtually via video chats. Google will even save a copy of the recording for later use. If you don't need to see your team, Hangouts also provides quick and easy instant messaging or audio conferencing capabilities.  

YouTube Nonprofit Program
Nonprofits can take advantage of an enriched YouTube Nonprofit Program. The primary features in this premium version are additional branding capabilities and call-to-action overlays. However, you also get a greater uploading capacity. YouTube videos drive search results these days, so why not tell your story and champion causes through this dynamic platform?

Google Ad Grants
Google also has Ad Grants for nonprofits, a free version of AdWords, Google's online advertising tool. You see AdWords when you search for something on Google and advertising results appear next to the listed information. Through this grant, organizations may receive $10,000 per month in qualified advertising to promote missions and initiatives on Google search result pages. Here is a brief visual introduction to Google Grants.  

Google Earth Outreach
Organizations with a broader geographic focus, such as missions agencies, may take advantage of Google Earth Outreach, which uses Google Earth and Maps to visualize causes, stories and needs for people all over the world.

Google Calendar
Don't forget about Calendar, which is capable of a great deal more than many folks realize. To committed users, Google Calendar is an effective time-management tool, especially useful for smartphone users, and even more effective in conjunction with Google Now.

Google Now
Google Now provides smartphone users with notifications in real time — everything from local weather, parking and attractions to reminders about appointments on your calendar, events in your Gmail and Google Maps navigation to wherever you're scheduled to be.

For example, you may have a friend or family member scheduled to visit you by plane. They can email you their flight details, and Google Now will provide you with updates about their travel when the time comes — flight numbers, updated departure/arrival times, gate and terminal information and so on.

How to qualify your church or organization for Google Nonprofit status

You will need to register your organization with TechSoup and obtain a “Validation Token” before you can complete the Google for Nonprofits application. Please refer to TechSoup’s Getting Started video for registration assistance. If you need a letter that verifies your organization’s inclusion in the United Methodist denomination’s group tax exemption ruling, you can request one through GCFA’s online application. After you have successfully registered your organization with TechSoup, you can continue with the instructions below to apply for the Google for Nonprofits program.

  1. If you don’t already have one, register for a Google account.
  2. Go to Google for Nonprofits and click the button that says “Start Now.”
  3. Provide the requisite information and use your organization’s TechSoup Validation Token to proceed with the Google for Nonprofits application.
  4. Enter your organization’s information on the following page to complete the application.

Gaining nonprofit status for Google Apps is a great way for churches and small church-related organizations to provide enterprise-level email and document management without having a large software expense. Stay connected and securely access data from anywhere, reduce your IT costs and help staff and volunteers work together more effectively, all while using effective channels to promote the work about which your group is most passionate.