Like any organization, email is a critical tool for a nonprofit. But should you pay for it? Absolutely not! Google’s G Suite is available for free to nonprofits, and it’s an important tool you’ll want for your organization to connect and collaborate with others.
Google’s G Suite features a number of integrated apps designed to make daily operations speedy, easy, and hassle-free, especially for nonprofits. However, the technology and setup can often be confusing, so I’m going to break it down and explain how to use Google’s G Suite as a nonprofit.
What is G Suite?
G Suite is a platform that features integrated apps that serve a variety of functions for your organization. These apps range from Gmail to Google Docs (similar to Microsoft Word). The simplicity and integration of these apps allow people to be more productive and collaborative. As a bonus, any file, email or appointment stored on G Suite is secured by Google’s ample cyber security.
G Suite’s Features
Through G Suite, users can use Google Drive, which is a fully online and shareable storage platform. It allows users to create, share and store a number of file types. These types of files include Google Docs, Google Sheets (similar to Excel), Google Slides (similar to PowerPoint), and much more.
With Google Slides, making an eye-catching presentation is easy. The “Explore” option within Slides even offers formatting suggestions, charts, and data analysis. Slides can be shared through a link, and a user (or users) can grant editing capabilities to each other. Slides can also be screen-shared during Google Meet video meetings.
Connect Wherever, Whenever
With Google Calendar and Google Meet, users can create, share and work together whenever and wherever. Google Meet is similar to Zoom and offers many of the same features and capabilities.
At first glance, Google’s Gmail may seem like another, simple email service; however, Gmail offers multiple useful qualities.
It automatically sorts incoming emails into 3 categories: primary (the main folder), social (from social media websites), and promotions (from businesses offering coupons, updates, etc.). From there, users can customize their feed with filters and labels, helping to sort emails based on source, topic, or more.
Gmail also comes with email templates, giving suggestions to reduce the time spent writing emails. I’ve used this even as I’ve cold emailed local businesses for possible consulting work.
With Google Forms, any user can efficiently create a questionnaire and posted to anywhere or sent to anyone. This can be used for potential donors or even employees. Once responses are received, forms can be exported into Google Sheets to organize and analyze data for further use.
Depending on the version, G Suite offers up to one terabyte of storage per user. The storage capacity is plentiful and everything has the capability to be shared or accessed.
In short, G Suite makes life easier for a nonprofit. While there may be some growing pains in setting up and familiarizing oneself with G Suite, the innovative platform is absolutely worth using.
Does Google Really Offer G Suite Basic for Free to Nonprofits?
Google’s announcement does sound pretty farfetched, especially with how most businesses the size and reach of Google will nickel and dime you for everything. But it is true – it’s completely free.
I’ve personally been using G Suite for a nonprofit I’m part of (Bethel Austin), and we’ve never been charged a dime in the 3 years since moving to it.
We actually tried using Microsoft Office 365’s nonprofit program as well for emails, but it was much more complex to maintain than we needed. Sometimes the simplest options are the best ones. And that’s what we found with G Suite.
G Suite Plans for Nonprofits
As far as plans go, Google offers three plans of G Suite for eligible 501(c)3 organizations through Google for Nonprofits. Each plan is available at a different price point – the higher the price per user, the more features included. However, I’m going to focus on the Basic plan since it’s the one available for free.
Here’s what the G Suite Basic for Nonprofits includes:
- $0/user/month. The G Suite Basic for Nonprofits is free; any user can access it at no cost to them or the organization.
- Unlimited users, each with 30 gigabytes (GB) of cloud storage space.
- Each user can also have their own professional email address with the nonprofit’s domain name.
- Any user on the standard level has access to shared drives as well as Google apps like Gmail, Calendar, Drive, and Docs.
- Lastly, video conferencing for up to 100 people through Google Meet.
G Suite for Nonprofits Eligibility Requirements
To join the Nonprofits program, you have to meet some eligibility requirements. Here are the necessary qualifications to get approved:
- Registered with the IRS as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization formed for charitable, educational, religious, literary, scientific or other tax-exempt purposes. Your nonprofit status will have to be verified by TechSoup. Organizations like churches that are automatically considered tax-exempt under group exemption rules still have to obtain verification from the IRS to qualify for G Suite for Non-profits.
- Not a governmental organization, hospital or healthcare organization, school, an academic institution, or a university. (Though institutions like these are eligible for Google for Education.)
If you meet the eligibility criteria, you can set up G Suite for Nonprofits.
What You Need for G Suite for Nonprofits
To get G Suite for Nonprofits, you’ll need three things:
- A Google for Nonprofits account
- A G Suite Basic account
- A verified domain
Let’s get started by getting a Google for Nonprofits account.
Sign Up for Google for Nonprofits
You’ll need to sign up for a Google for Nonprofits account. This account verifies your nonprofit status and will get you access to G Suite Basic for free once you’ve been approved.
The next step is to check that you fit the eligibility criteria.
After you check off the eligibility criteria, you’ll need to have your nonprofit tax ID (also called EIN) along with your physical and online contact details.
Once you begin, you’ll have to wait between two days and two weeks. You can track the status of your application at your Google account page.
Once you get your confirmation, your organization will be able to use Google’s services.
Signing Up for G Suite Basic
Signing up for G Suite Basic is a precondition of getting G Suite for Nonprofits. It’s a simple process though.
You can sign up for a 14-day free trial, but it’s $6 per month per person after the trial ends. If you want to keep costs to a minimum, only set up a couple of users on your account until your G Suite for Nonprofits kicks in. That’ll keep your costs down while you wait for your nonprofit account to get approved.
Your journey to G Suite Basic starts here.
Start by filling out some basic information about your nonprofit and your contact details. Then, Google will ask you whether you already have a domain or if you want to purchase one:
Most people don’t consider a .page domain to be a viable option for nonprofits (or any organization for that matter). It may be free for a year, but it’s also not a normal URL so it won’t be seen as legitimate as a .com or .org URL. This could impact your fundraising and nonprofit work as well.
I selected the “buy a domain” option so I can walk through the purchase process. Search for a few options for your domain, and Google will tell you what’s available:
Domains can vary quite a bit in cost — while the ones in this example top out at $30, you can pay thousands for others. I’d also recommend staying away from any domains with a hyphen so it’s easier to communicate your domain.
After picking your domain, you’ll have to enter some more contact information before finishing the G Suite Basic signup process.
If you’ve bought a domain, there’s nothing else that you need to do. Simply wait for your Google for Nonprofits account to get approved.
Confirming a Nonprofit Domain that You Already Own
If you already have a domain, you’ll need to verify it. Instead of choosing to buy a domain during the G Suite Basic signup process, select the option for already having a domain. Then, follow the verification instructions.
Basically, you’ll need to log into the domain registrar that you used to purchase the domain, edit the domain settings to point to Google and verify everything. Go to your hosting company’s website, sign in, and find the “Manage DNS” section. Here are Google’s guidelines for hosts.
Each hosting company has a slightly different setup but the basics remain the same.
Wait for Verification
Now you have a G Suite Basic account, a domain, and a pending Google for Nonprofits account. Once your Google for Nonprofits accounts gets confirmed, you need to head back to https://www.google.com/nonprofits/.
Wait at least a few days before checking on your Google for Nonprofits account. Also, don’t forget which email you used to sign up for the Google Nonprofits account. It usually isn’t the new email that you created for your G Suite Basic account.
Once your account has been approved, you’ll see an “Activate” option that asks for the domain that you’d like to use for G Suite Basic. To make sure everything works, use the same domain that you verified with your G Suite Basic plan earlier.
That’s it. You’re now set up with G Suite for Nonprofits!