Regardless of size, churches have similar email and application needs as for-profit businesses. Churches use Word or Pages documents, spreadsheets, email, presentation software, and other tools to make running a church a bit easier. Google Suite, or G-Suite, offers several options for online collaboration you can leverage at little to no cost. In this article, we’ll look at three benefits of Google Suite for churches and nonprofits and how these solutions can save your church money while increasing efficiency.
Many organizations that work with churches recommend Google Suite. For example, Clover Sites doesn’t offer email hosting with their websites, but they recommend using Gmail via G-Suite for Nonprofits. Sharefaith and Aboundant also suggest using G-Suite to save money and increase collaboration.
Before we take a close look at the benefits of using Google Suite, let’s address what’s included within the program:
G-Suite includes the following:
- 30 GB of cloud-based file storage per user
- Access across devices including computers, phones, and tablets
- Drive – Use this to organize and share files among staff and volunteers
- Gmail – Email that uses your church’s domain
- Docs – Documents similar to Microsoft Word or Apple’s Pages
- Sheets – Spreadsheets similar to Microsoft Excel or Apple’s Numbers
- Forms – Customizable forms you can use to create surveys and questionnaires
- Slides – Presentation application similar to Microsoft PowerPoint or Apple’s Keynote
- Calendar – Calendars you can share with the entire team and use to schedule meetings
- Keep – A notes tool where you can create, access, and edit to-do lists, miscellaneous notes, photos, audio, and drawings
- Sites – A tool for creating websites for a team (possibly specific to an upcoming event or project)
- Hangouts Chat – Team instant messaging
- Hangouts Meet – Video calling capability
With so many tools available, it’s easy to see how G-Suite could be a great option for your church.
Here are a few specific benefits to using G-Suite and how you could take advantage of this technology for your church:
Benefit #1: Improved Collaboration
Have you ever had to email a document to a volunteer so he could handle certain tasks for you? Do staff members save documents onto their hard drives making it difficult to ensure everyone has the latest version? Have you sent a document for a few people to review and had to consolidate their suggested changes?
These are common problems that using a cloud-based tool can help solve. By saving all files onto your church’s Google Drive system, you can ensure you never lose another file when someone’s hard drive crashes or they’re no longer on staff. You can also make sure everyone has the latest version of church policy and procedure documents, the employee handbook, purchase request forms, and many other common files. Also, you can organize the church’s Google Drive into folders by ministry department, event, or project as needed.
Since Google Docs and Sheets are saved in the cloud, you can grant access to the entire staff or specific staff or volunteers to see and/or edit those files. This makes including volunteers in event planning or other coordination efforts much easier. You can share files and keep everyone on the planning team up-to-date with the latest version of files created for that event. Multiple people can have a document or spreadsheet open at the same time and can make changes simultaneously.
Google Calendar is also included with G-Suite. With a central calendar, you can schedule meetings with staff and volunteers, see when another staff member is available to meet, include all church events so everyone is aware of what’s coming up, and more.
If you’d like to use online forms, Google Forms are another item that’s included with G-Suite. You can create forms for volunteer signups, gather information from small group leaders, or other data you need to collect.
Benefit #2: Reduced Tech Support Costs
If your church uses another email hosting provider, you’re likely paying a monthly fee for support and storage. Email hosting is included with G-Suite for Nonprofits (more on this later), so you’ll save money on that each month. Also, by having all of your church’s documents, spreadsheets, and other files saved onto Google Drive, you reduce the need for an internal network or other cloud service and the storage associated with it. This saves the church money on servers or cloud storage plus it reduces reliance on technical support to maintain those services.
Benefit #3: G-Suite for Nonprofits is FREE
While G-Suite pricing is fairly reasonable ($5 per user each month), the G-Suite for Nonprofits program offers a zero-dollar price tag. However, you’ll have to go through an application process to benefit from this offer.
Step #1: Your Church Will Need to Meet Google’s Eligibility Requirements
Those requirements are:
- Must have the IRS designation as a 501(c)3
- Can not be a governmental entity or organization, a hospital or healthcare organization, or a school, academic institution, or university
- Must be verified as a nonprofit organization with TechSoup
Step #2: Complete the Online Application
Once you’re certain your church meets these eligibility requirements, you’ll need to go to Google for Nonprofits, click on “Get Started,” and follow the instructions to complete the application.
Finally, G-Suite for Nonprofits includes YouTube’s Social Impact tool. You can create a YouTube channel for your church and upload videos right away. This includes the ability to create donation cards that viewers can use to donate to your church directly from your YouTube videos. You can also include a “Link Anywhere” card that includes a URL to a campaign landing page.
G-Suite includes a wide variety of tools that can greatly increase your church’s efficiency while saving you money. As your church grows, you can add users, facilitate better communication and collaboration among staff and volunteers, and reduce reliance on IT support. Whether you apply for G-Suite for Nonprofits or decide to pay for a G-Suite plan, this is a tool worth considering to make the administration and collaboration aspects of leading a church easier.