You already know about Gmail. You’ve probably even used Google Docs a few times. But why are Google Apps something that you want for your non-profit?
There are lots of benefits, but the main reason is this:
Google Apps provides a simple way to create and manage email addresses for your business’s web domain (i.e. email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, etc). And for non-profits it’s free. (For-profits spend $50/user/year for this service!)
You might already have email through your domain provider or your web hosting company, but these email interfaces are typically short on features and difficult to manage. You don’t want to have to pay an IT staff to maintain your website and emails — you need an email service that just works.
Say you own the website yourwebsite.org. With Google Apps, setting up emails addresses such as firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com is a snap. You can easily create email addresses for your staff and volunteers — all hosted with Gmail’s best-in-class interface — and then take advantage of all of the great collaboration features that Google Docs has to offer.
To get started, you have to sign up for the Non-profit program with Google. The process is simple and just requires that you provide your EIN, Tax Exempt number, and some other information about your organization. Google processes these requests quickly (the site says that may take several weeks, but my application was approved in just one or two days).
At the end of the day, Google Apps is going to take away a lot of IT headaches and save you time and money. Here are a few more links to help you get going and learn more:
I work for non-profits because I want my work to matter to me. I want to be inspired. The mission is important to me — just as it is for so many people in the non-profit community. However, I’m also money driven, and for many people these are diametrically opposed ideas. Some think that “Mission driven” means that your heart is in it and you’d do anything for the cause, whereas “Money driven” means that you’re corporate, greedy, and can’t possibly have your priorities straight.
The truth is that a mission without money is like a car without wheels. If you’re serious about making a difference in your corner of the world, you’re going to need money. And the best non-profits do a really good job of showing how money directly affects the mission. (When you sponsor a goat from Heifer International you know exactly how your money is being used.)
So while many folks didn’t join the non-profit community because of their passion for business, we’re starting to realize that if we’re not smart business owners our mission will never take off.
Didn’t go to business school? (Me neither.) So here’s lesson #1:
Profit = Revenue – Expenses
Most people focus on the revenue end of the equation, but I’ve found that it’s often a lot easier to make a big difference in the expenses end of things — and the impact is the same. Whether you make an additional $100 a month or you cut spending by $100 dollars, profit goes up by $100. You can’t always control how much you sell or how many donations you receive, but you have a great deal of control over how much you spend.
Therefore, I’m dedicating this blog to helping non-profits cut expenses. Because, as they say, a penny saved is a penny earned.