Wouldn’t it have been nice to have a nonprofit technology helpdesk to call when figuring out how to adapt to the pandemic? Some churches were serving individuals who had never turned on a computer before and still needed to receive essential services like meals and in-home care. Still, against the odds technology was there as a resource to revitalize spiritual life across denominations. Hindus, Baptists, Jews, Presbyterians, and Friends talked to Wired about how digital delivery of content during the pandemic brought new, global life and community to their churches.
However, there are 6% fewer regular churchgoers in the U.S. now than in 2019, with attendance among some demographics as much as 15% lower. Zoom fatigue and weariness with remote life definitely play a role in the decline, but now, churches have the opportunity to bounce back with hybrid solutions. It is possible to preserve what staff and congregations have loved about social distancing while also bringing back the in-person engagement that makes worship powerful.
Implementing Google For Nonprofits is one way for a church to centralize digital operations with staff, volunteers, and the congregation. Some churches might have already chosen this platform during their response to the pandemic, and wonder about making the most of all the features. In this piece we explain the Google for Nonprofits pricing and packages available to churches. We’ll also share strategies to use tools in the G Suite to improve church operations and drive engagement from the congregation.
Yes, churches can use Google for Nonprofits, which includes the full Google Suite and Google Workspace. Any 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization, including churches, can use Google for Nonprofits. As part of signing up with Google for Nonprofits, you will also need to register your organization with TechSoup. TechSoup is a nonprofit tech marketplace for both hardware and software. If you are not already a member, you will be prompted to apply as part of setting up Google for Nonprofits.
Google Workspace for Nonprofits includes storage and a set number of video meetings per user. If organizations need more storage, the capability to record meetings, or enhanced customer support, you can upgrade for a few dollars a month per user. But many churches find the free account to be more than adequate.
In addition to file storage and email hosting for churches, the Google for Nonprofits account will also include the Google Suite of programs.
Google Suite (G Suite) includes eight tools: Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, Google Forms, and Google Keep.
Yes, all these products in the Google Suite are free for churches as long as they verify their 501(c)(3) status and successfully deploy Google for Nonprofits.
Google also has several other services for nonprofits like churches, including:
What is the difference between Google Workspace and the Google Suite? Google Workspace also encompasses Google Sites for web hosting along with the G Suite. Paid tiers of Google Workspace include additional features like encryption, unlimited data storage, noise cancellation during large video meetings, and more. For churches with over 500 members attending weekly services virtually, these features can be very valuable. Basic Google Workspace is free for nonprofits, with discounted pricing on the advanced accounts.
How do churches use the products in Google Workspace to drive better community and connection to God for their congregation? Here are a few examples.
Sending a virtual form to members and having their responses automatically collected is useful in many situations. Church forms for new members are just the beginning of the potential. You can also send out surveys to understand what topics people have on their heart and what activities would make them more excited to come to church. Church forms and documents will take a little effort to digitize but the effort more than pays off long-term in saved time, effort, and space for keeping lots of paper.
The free version of Google Meet for churches limits meetings to 100 attendees. If your entire congregation is larger and wants to meet virtually, you could upgrade to a higher tier at a discounted rate. But between large meetings, Google Meet is excellent to keep staff and volunteers in collaboration. Since Google Meet is integrated with Google Calendar, you can add the meeting login information at the same time the invitation is put on the virtual calendar. This means at the time of the meeting, it’s as simple as clicking a button to login.
Yes, according to Google, a church can use Google Classroom as long as the students you are educating are over the age of 13. For teenagers and older, Google Classroom can be accessed using a free personal Gmail account. The features are slightly limited compared to a paid Google Classroom. Students using Classroom through a personal account cannot email their classmates, and their parents cannot sign up to receive automatic updates. But a Sunday School or church school can still benefit from Google Classroom’s features like being able to snap and submit homework and documents. Instructors can also set due dates for assignments and activities. Students younger than 13 can only access Google Classroom through a certified private school or homeschool.
Churches can visit classroom.google.com to start exploring this as a youth education platform, but it might also have a lot of bells and whistles for more casual curriculum. In many cases, Google Meet can serve as a virtual meeting place for younger classes and recordkeeping achieved in Google Sheets. That’s the great thing about G Suite—it’s very easy to use in lots of ways!
A tool like Google For Nonprofits is full of potential, but ideas are nothing without action. Like everyone else in the world, church staff and volunteers carry a burden as events inevitably unfold which are difficult to understand. We continue to be thankful for grace and the opportunity to take on missions of compassion. Something as small as setting up a free Google platform can feel like it’s not worth seeking help with. But really, getting expert insight and support can be worth the saved time and frustration.
Computers In Ministry takes a Google Suite deployment off your hands, helping everyone get set up on their computers and mobile devices as needed. We can also stay involved as a resource and help with additional functions like IT security monitoring or issues with your network and hardware. We have partnered with more than 100 nonprofit ministry organizations over the last 20 years…we have seen it all because we have been in the industry through it all! We would love to put our experience, strategic insight, and confident patience to work for your organization too. Contact Computers In Ministry today!