Google Apps for Nonprofits – Overview & Top 10 Tips

The Google for Nonprofits Program offers eligible organizations access to free versions of paid Google products. These tools can help nonprofits find new donors and volunteers, work more efficiently, and get supporters to take action.

Are you eligible?

  • Be a registered charitable organization in one of more than 50+ countries (US, Canada and Mexico included). For US charities, that means you must be a 501(c)(3) organization.
  • Be registered with TechSoup (quick, free and easy signup; verifies your nonprofit status)
  • NOT be a governmental entity, hospital, health care organization, school, childcare center, academic institution or university (Google has a separate program for educational institutions)
  • Fiscally sponsored organizations are not eligible.

Tools You Can Use

When you are approved for a Google for Nonprofits account, you are instantly eligible to enroll in all of these services and tools. Learn about them and the different ways your organization can benefit.

G Suite for Nonprofits

G Suite (formerly Google Apps) includes tools you can already use for free, like:

  • Google Drive (for file storage and organization)
  • Docs (like Microsoft Word)
  • Slides (like PowerPoint)
  • Forms (for collecting non-confidential data)
  • Sheets (like Excel)
  • Sites (rudimentary website builder for creating wikis or very simple web pages)
  • Hangouts (video conferencing/screen sharing collaboration on any device—computer, phone, tablet—with up to 25 users
  • Calendar (powerful scheduling and collaboration for your team)
  • Google Analytics (tracking of visitors to your site and their behavior while there)

In addition, you get features that are normally only available to paying customers, like:

  • Gmail email hosting (host email @yourdomain on Google’s servers and use the gmail interface and tools to manage your organization’s email)
  • 30GB file storage per user (free version is 10GB)
  • 24/7 support by phone, chat, and email

And some features available ONLY to Google for Nonprofits members, like:

Google’s priority is giving your nonprofit team tools to efficiently collaborate from anywhere, in real time, with this completely web-based cloud-based productivity suite. For example, multiple users can be working from different locations on one grant proposal, slide presentation or spreadsheet. You can store files in Drive and give different levels of access to different employees or volunteers. Each user can have his or her own google calendar, but also utilize a shared or organizational calendar. Use public and private calendars to keep track of what’s happening across your organization—even in multiple locations.

10 Tips for Getting The Most Out of Google for Nonprofits

  1. Really utilize your Google Grants. Learn the ins and outs of the Google Adwords program so you can be successful. It’s tempting to just “throw spaghetti at the wall” because you’re not spending “real” money, but you won’t get good results if you don’t know what you’re doing.
  2. Do specific fundraising campaigns within OneToday, but keep your normal fundraising channels open on your website (PayPal, credit card donations, vehicle donations, etc.).
  3. Definitely use Gmail servers to host your organization’s email!! There is no server in the world more secure, better at filtering spam and easier to use than Google’s. If your organization is still using a @yahoo or @gmail address, there’s no excuse—get rid of that unprofessional email address and start using
  4. Get everybody using Google Calendar. If your entire organization’s calendar can be managed in one place, scheduling everything from staff meetings to clinic hours to sick days will be so much easier. The levels of customization are endless, and you can completely control who can view and edit what calendars. So you can have a calendar to manage your clinic hours, your staff PTO usage, your public events, even a personal calendar so you can squeeze in a haircut every now and then.
  5. Use Google Drive to store important files in the cloud, and give different levels of access to different users. Make your logo files available to your marketing staff only, or create a private folder just for HR personnel records. It’s all stored securely in the cloud and backed up regularly. You control access, everything is organized in one place, and you can still find what you need when you have staff turnover.
  6. Utilize video. You know that video is the best medium for storytelling these days, and YouTube is the most popular platform by far. Normal YouTube users can’t put links to external pages in their videos—but you can. Choose the critical moment in your video to link viewers directly to your donation page, for example, or take them to a foster application.
  7. Use Google Forms to collect and synthesize data. You won’t want to collect any sensitive information on Google Forms—like credit card numbers or social security numbers. But you can use it for adoption applications, contact us forms, volunteer applications and more. The results can be emailed to you, and also are dumped into a Sheets file (like an Excel spreadsheet) where you can easily see graphs and charts of your results (really handy if you’re collecting any demographic information or need to tabulate data for annual reports).
  8. Utilize the support! With a GSuite account comes 24/7 access to actual, live people at Google who can help you. This is invaluable! If you need help, they can walk you through your problem—and they are used to “non-technical people.”
  9. Utilize Google Analytics. It’s so much more than just how many “hits” your website gets. Learn the basics to gain insight into donors and track how they interact with your website, how they get there, when and why the leave and what holds their attention. This information will allow you to make your website even more effective.
  10. Take the time to really use these tools. Even in this age of social media and online….everything, I still talk to many animal welfare professionals who feel that time spent online, especially time spent learning a new software tool, is time “taken away from the animals.” Consider this an investment of your time and energy, if not your hard-earned dollars. If you just sign up for all the tools and let it sit there, it can’t help your organization. But you will reap great rewards if you take the time to utilize the resources of the Google for Nonprofits program!


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