Google for Nonprofits – Everything You Need to Know

Google for Nonprofits - Soccer Without Borders

One of the first questions we ask when we work without nonprofits is: “Are you enrolled in the Google for Nonprofits program?” The most common answer is some version of: “I think so, but I don’t know much about it.”

Google for Nonprofits is chalk full of incredible tools, but since there isn’t much in-person guidance, few are leveraging those available. We’d like to change that.

If you’re currently enrolled in the Google for Nonprofits program, we hope you’ll take this some of these tips and run with them. If you aren’t, keep reading to learn more about the value of the tools and apply here to get here ball rolling.

What is Google For Nonprofits?

Google for Nonprofits is a program that allows nonprofits to utilize business-class tools at little or no cost.

Why Google for MY Nonprofit?

Because email isn’t enough. Communication within your organization and with external stakeholders is no longer just about traditional email correspondence. Outlook feels comfortable and easy, but it’s quickly becoming obsolete relative to other providers, namely Google.

Communicating effectively within and outside of your nonprofit means cloud storage for file sharing, real-time computing for collaboration, visually creative calls to action, and accessible data for external stakeholders. As a Google for Nonprofits member, you have access to an integrated set of tools that support those aims and more.

Where do we start?

Start at the beginning, and take it one step at a time. The rest of this post will give you a brief overview of each tool, some tangible ways to apply them in your organization and crash course about where to start.

Google Apps: Improve Your Communication

What is it?
Google Apps is a suite of Google products designed for businesses and organizations that live under a single domain. It includes Gmail, Google Drive, Analytics and a whole lot more.

Why use it?
Easy information sharing, dependable data storage and reliable website analytics are key for any nonprofit organization. Google Apps is a one-stop shop, and it’s free if you’re a Google Nonprofit member.

Get Started
The two key pieces (beyond basic email) for maximum benefit are: Google Drive and Google Analytics.

Google Drive:

This is how your organization is going to share and collaborate on files. No more anxiety over server crashes, or finicky remote logins. You’re now free to create, share and edit from any computer.

But first, the administrator needs to take these steps:

  • Manage permissions in the drive before everyone jumps in
  • Give one person from each department the task of organizing folders for their team

Some ways to leverage the Drive:

  • Brand cohesion: Create a go-to communications folder that any employee can access. In that folder, keep letterhead, PPT templates, logos in varying file-types and even an email signature template.
  • Data Collection: Shared spreadsheets are a great tool for program departments. At Soccer Withoout Borders , they use a spreadsheet across all 9 global programs to track attendance, paperwork and other details about participants. This makes reporting a lot easier when it comes to that point in the grant cycle.

Google Analytics:

Imagine your website as your voice, your personality. With Google Analytics, you can tell a lot about how you’re perceived by your supporters. With this completely free analytics service, you can see what parts of your site people love, what they care about, and what they may not even be able to find. These things are important for measuring your reach, your messaging, and ultimately your impact. Additionally, you can see how your adwords campaigns are doing, which is crucial. Google has created a super easy checklist to help you get start. See it here.

Google Adwords: Attract New Donors

What is it?
Adwords is Google’s primary advertising product. With a Google grant, you don’t pay a thing for $10,000 worth of advertising per month.

Why use it?
Free advertising. Enough said? Paid marketing is tough to fund for nonprofits, which is why a Google grant is like gold. It’s a great way to extend your reach and the visibility of your brand. There’s a level of effort, expertise and upkeep that some of the other tools don’t require, but the return on time invested is huge. Drive people to your website, grow your email list, attract new donors and advocate for your cause.

Get Started
Adwords may be the most intimidating piece of the program, but in this case, a little courage goes a long way. Start with these steps to get comfortable:

  • Login to your Adwords account with the email address assigned to your Google grant at
  • Write down the top words that you think people use when looking for your organization (or your related work). Think in both general and specific terms. Put that list in a spreadsheet to make things easier later.
  • Group your keywords into themes. For example, if you run a charity for homeless youth, think about words that would apply to people interested in issues related to homeless or youth.
  • Get some help from the Google Keyword Tool.
  • Start small. Just start by creating one or two campaigns to get going. Use different themes and keywords to familiarize yourself with the product and grow from there.
  • Make sure your donate button, social media icons and email sign-up are prominent on your website. Once people are on your site, you need to give them a way to immediately take action.


  • If you’re worried about having the time to manage your account, try this on for size.
  • At some point, Google may ask you to enter payment information. NEVER enter any payment information. Not only will it charge you (no refunds on this folks), but it will also void your Google grants account, and you’ll have to start all over again.

YouTube: Increase Your Donor Engagement

What is it?
Silly question, right? Everyone know what YouTube is, but YouTube for Nonprofits is stacked with features catered specifically to help your organization.

Why use it?
We live in a video-loving culture. Everyday, organizations create beautiful videos to share the incredible work they’re doing and raise awareness about pressing issues. And how many of those videos go unnoticed by the masses? Most of them. YouTube has added two vital features for nonprofits to get gain traction for their message while receiving donations in the process.

Get Started
1. Brand your page in a few easy steps:

  • Upload your logo
  • Upload a background image
  • Choose your colors

2. Add a “Donate” button to your page. Do this before #3, so you can take advantage of all those views you’re going to attract.

3. Create a Call to Action:

  • Click “Edit” next to the video you’d like to use
  • Complete “Call-To-Action-Overlay”
  • Click Save!

YouTube for Nonprofits Success Story:

Charity Water


Charity: water is a doing big things with Youtube for Nonprofits. They recently ran a campaign with a goal of 100,000 video views to get the word out. They’ve hit 93,232 so far. That’s almost 94 thousand potential advocated or donors who now know their organization. We call that IMPACT. Watch the video.




Your Turn: Are you enrolled in Google for Nonprofits? What Google tools do you find most helpful to your organization? Please share in the Comments section below!

Image Source: Soccer Without Borders

Want to learn more? Visit us here.

Want more insights? Sign up for our newsletter