Did you know that a G Suite Basic account is available for free to eligible nonprofits? You’ll get Gmail, Docs, Calendar, Drive, Hangouts Meet and more. And most importantly, all of these tools can be used together to streamline standard processes and tasks at your nonprofit to be easier and more convenient.
We’ll get into the whats and the hows, but let’s cover a few initial steps first. Before you can use G Suite for nonprofits, you’ll need to apply for the Google for Nonprofits program, activate your account and adjust the settings for each program based on your preferences and needs.
The biggest benefit of using G Suite for nonprofits comes from an opportunity to simplify and streamline day-to-day life at your organization. Keep all your files in one place that’s accessible anywhere, easily share the most up-to-date document versions and information across your team (and outside of it), and open up internal communications.
G Suite for Nonprofits
I’ll walk through a few tools and their biggest benefits for nonprofits, as we see them.
Aside from including useful features like snoozing and scheduling emails, G Suite’s Gmail allows you to add an element of professionalism to your nonprofit’s emails by pulling in your website domain name. Now, instead of email@example.com, you can use firstname.lastname@example.org. It may seem insignificant, but it adds an element of trust and security to your email communications that we cannot overstate.
In terms of connecting with other apps and tools within G Suite, you’ll be able to link things like calendar invites and video call links within messages, making scheduling meetings (even remotely!) a much simpler process.
I’m going to share a personal pet peeve here and ask you all to please stop saving multiple versions of Microsoft Word files. G Suite’s Docs allows people to access the same version of the same doc at the same time, from anywhere. And, if you really need to, you’ll be able to open Microsoft Word documents as Google Docs. This means that you can finally ditch your 2008 Word subscription (you’re welcome).
You can also see the version history of that document, make comments and assign them to team members (who will get an email notification to alert them of the comment), and make inline suggestions. Go forth and collaborate to your heart’s content.
Go ahead and get rid of your office server or DropBox account. Google Drive is a file storage tool that syncs to the cloud so that your team can all access the files they need from anywhere and easily share files both internally and externally. Security features give you a lot of control over access, without restricting file sharing to only those within your organization.
We use Drive to share large photo and document files with our nonprofit clients on a regular basis. It’s truly a game-changer!
Sharing Google Calendars across your team allows anyone on your team to schedule a meeting when everyone they need is available. Plus, you can streamline the scheduling process with email invitations and video call links, share calendars across your team, and add meeting links for video calls. When some meeting prep is required, link the appropriate Google docs within calendar events for attendees to review beforehand.
We’ve even seen organizations use Google Calendar as an editorial calendar. Share the editorial or communications calendar across your team so that everyone knows when new blog posts are scheduled, list-wide emails send and print mailings go out.
Hangouts Meet and Chat
Sometimes, an email just doesn’t cut it. When you need a face-to-face conversation, Hangouts Meet video calls allow remote teams to connect with clear video and sound. The tool also includes a phone number and pin option for guests without a camera on their computer to join.
The chat component of Hangouts is perfect for quick questions and comments that are a bit much for an email. Maybe you just need to know if your co-worker has a second to talk or which conference room your upcoming meeting is in. Hangouts Chat is our team’s bread and butter, full of funny gifs, cool shared resources and quick updates.
Streamline Your Processes
Picture a nonprofit that has remote employees and volunteers sprinkled all over the country. And they use G Suite to connect all of their people, as well as third-party vendors (like us), with each other and collaborate on files.
- They’ve got lots of awesome images that they keep in organized files on Drive. Because it’s cloud-based, everyone on their staff has access to use their old photos and contribute new photos, plus they have the flexibility to grant access to specific folders.
- Multiple stakeholders can provide feedback on new marketing plans and content in Docs, and everyone can see the big steps in those plans in Calendar to plan around things like direct mailings.
- To make sure they’re all on the same page, they have the option of sending email updates, quick chats or circling up in-person over a video call. They make use of all three using Gmail, Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet, depending on the nature of the conversation.
When you and your team open up communication, can easily collaborate and have access to what you need when you need it, marketing projects can be streamlined and move more smoothly. Think about your existing process for brainstorming the initial idea all the way through the content creation process, promotion and post-campaign analysis.
Questions to ask
As you’re fishing out ways to streamline your processes with G Suite, consider these questions:
- What are common problem areas for you or the team that might be solved with G Suite?
- Do you currently pay for or use other tools that G Suite might replace?
- What will the process to move everything over to G Suite look like?
Just getting started?
Rather than jumping headfirst into Google Ads and some of the other more complicated tools included in Google for Nonprofits as soon as you’re approved, we’d recommend starting out by setting up Gmail and Drive within G Suite for Nonprofits. These essential tools will put you in a good place to build out your toolbox from there, without getting overwhelmed and needing to do double work down the road when you decide to bring on more Google applications.
Once you have Gmail and Drive in place and organized to your liking, start looking at the other tools that you were using previously and think about how G Suite can help you consolidate. For example, you might drop an email service through your website hosting company, move your files off of internal servers or cancel a file storage tool like DropBox. Consolidate things as much as you can to help keep everything centrally located and get rid of what you don’t need.
Has your nonprofit transitioned to G Suite for nonprofits? What did you tackle first? Anything you wish you’d done differently? Let’s talk in the comments below.