Houston NetSquared Hosts the Google Team - Learn How to the Join Google for NonProfits Program!

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Houston's Google Field Team joined our NetSquared Meetup Tuesday night for our June event.  Nimi West and Sade Ayodele spent the evening answering questions about the Google for NonProfits Program.  Google for NonProfits helps nonprofit organizations increase your fundraising efforts, optimize your organization's operations, and expand your reach to grow your list of supporters.

Google Apps You Wonder About

During the introductions at the meetup, I asked everyone to share either the Google Application they had the most questions about or their favorite Google App to use.  I was actually a little surprised by some of the answers. Top Google Apps Folks Had Questions On (in no particular order):

  • Google Hangouts - Many members wanted to know how to use them to improve communications with remote staff and volunteers.  Google Hangouts is free web, voice, and video conferencing in one package.  Recently, Google rolled out Hangouts on Air as an added bonus to allow free live broadcasting to an unlimited online audience.
  • Google Alerts - Many people haven't heard of Google's secret weapon that lets you monitor the internet in almost real time and receive alerts about any topic(s) you are interested in.  I personally use Google Alerts to receive notifications whenever anyone is talking about Tendenci and Brand-related topics so I can know who is interested and sharing our Brand online.
  • Google + Most people just want to understand the value of adding another social network to their already overwhelmed content marketing to-do list.  We learned more about the differences between Google+ and other social media platforms and the reasons why Google+ was part of an overall market strategy focused on earning money for your organization, not just making new online friends. (I'll pit Facebook against Google+ below and explain the differences.)

Most favorite Google App: Google Search - I was surprised by how many of our group mentioned Google search as their most favorite tool at Google and something most admitted to using multiple times a day.  I wasn't surprised that they all listed it as their preferred search engine.  The fact that so many people like to use search and use it multiple times a day should tell you to keep tackling your website's search engine optimization as part of your web marketing efforts.

The Unheard of Google App (sadly, this app was cancelled):

The Google Wonder Wheel - Here's a great post on The SEM Blog explaining what the Wonder Wheel, (in case you never had a chance to use the Wonder Wheel).  The reason it was cancelled?  According to this article on Search Engine Land, this Google tool was taken down due to being an enormous pain for Google to maintain the application.

Google For NonProfits

Nimi and Sade gave the Houston Netsquared members the inside scoop on the Google for NonProfits Program and how to apply, who's eligible, and what you get once you're accepted.  Google's tools are developed to help nonprofit organizations be more successful at increasing your funding. Google has 2 different ways to help nonprofits do this, first through the Google for NonProfits Program and then, you can also apply to receive a Google Grants Award.

First, Join the Program

You have to first apply for membership with the Google for NonProfits Program.  You can learn more about the eligibility requirements on the program's website and here's a quick rundown to help you figure out if your organization is eligible:

  1. Have a current 501(c)(3) status as determined by the U.S.IRS
  2. Agree to Google's Terms and Conditions about how you receive donations and use the funding
  3. Your organization must be based in the United States.  For non-U.S. nonprofits, head to their listing by country of programs Google offers.

There are a few exceptions to the program: Government organizations, hospitals and health care organizations, and schools do not qualify for the Google for NonProfits Program.  Google does have a Google in Education program specifically for schools, universities, and other academic institutions, however.

What You Get Once You're Accepted:

  • Free (if you have less than 3,000 users) or discounted version of Google Apps for your organization.
  • Eligible to Apply for Google Grants and a chance to receive Free Adwords advertising
  • A Premium Branding package, for Free, on YouTube
  • Free licensing for Google Earth and Maps API

Google Grants - It's A Little Complicated

Once you are accepted into the Google for NonProfits Program, you can apply for the Google Grants program to receive free, online advertising and give your nonprofit organization more advertising dollars each month. Google Grants is Google's in-kind donation program that awards free  Google AdWords advertising to nonprofit organizations that are accepted to the program.  If you apply and are accepted, you can receive free AdWords advertising credits and the amount given can range from around $300/month to $10,000 a month.  The amount depends on the performance of your selected keywords. Google Grant Awardees can use their free online ads for a variety of online advertising activities including targeted fundraising campaigns, recruiting volunteers and/or staff, increase cause awareness, and expand your reach online.  Google has more information here: Getting Started with Online Advertising using Google AdWords. In order to qualify for Google Grants, you must meet a few requirements, in addition to also being a member of the Google for NonProfits Program. Google Grants Requirements: (from the Google Grants Program Details Page)

  • You must have a website, and your ads must link to a page on your website.
  • The keywords you target must be relevant to your programs and services.
  • Your website cannot display revenue generating ads, such as Google AdSense or affiliate advertising links, while participating in Google Grants.
  • The on-going, active management of your advertising campaign is your organization's responsibility once your account is active.

Managing AdWords campaigns can be daunting, so I recommend you check out The SEM Blog's recent AdWords Post.  If you have any questions about how to apply for Google Grants, figure out your keywords for your AdWords campaigns, or how to use AdWords, contact us and check out Schipul - The Web Marketing Company's NonProfit Marketing Resources page for additional help with nonprofit web marketing.

Facebook versus Google +

Until about a month ago, I was in the same place most digital marketers are - asking what's the big reason why Google+ is relevant to my online marketing strategy?  I started doing more research and talking to Nimi and Sade and I changed my mind. Check out my blog post on the Schipul Blog with the results of my research and how Google+ helps businesses increase their lead to sales conversions to learn how I came to my conclusion on the value of Google+. Since I'm also a volunteer for a number of nonprofit organizations, (including Houston NetSquared), I wanted to find out from other nonprofit marketers how they felt social media platforms compared.  So I did a little informal survey at NetSquared about how they felt about the value of content being shared by their networks on Facebook.

Here are the results: 

  • Pretty much everyone agreed that Facebook presents you with socially relevant content - content that is directly about your friends and family.
  • The group majority also agreed that Facebook content isn't necessarily content that is useful information - most people wouldn't share the majority of the content from their Facebook network on their organization's Facebook page or with people in their professional network who aren't in your personal network.
  • Compare this to the content being shared on Google+ which is both socially relevant and enables targeted content sharing using Google+ Circles.  With Google+ Circles, you can segment your social and professional contacts and selectively share content to the people that will find it most useful, instead of sharing all your content with everyone in your network.

Here's a great article on the Business2Community blog on how to Hide Your Google Plus Circles that explains how to protect your different Google+ Circles from the public. What this means to Organizations, both for profit and not for profits, is that when you share content on Google+ , it has a higher chance of being shared to a targeted audience that is more likely to find it relevant and useful, and thus increase your engagement with new people online.

Want More Google? 

Here are some upcoming events and additional resources to get your organization up and running successfully on Google's online tools:

Schipul and Google for Business Hands-on Workshop

If you're in Houston - Join Schipul - The Web Marketing Company and the Houston Google Team for this FREE, hands-on workshop at the Houston Technology Center next Tuesday, June 19th.  The workshop includes lunch, followed by an hour with these Google experts at computer workstations to guide you through your biggest Google set-up questions.  Space is limited so register online today: http://schipul.com/events/878/.  (nonprofits and businesses are both invited!)

Add these Google Plus Peeps to Your Circles

Follow Google For NonProfits on Google Plus for great tips and announcements.

Follow Nimi West and Sade Ayodele on Google Plus for local help with getting your nonprofit or business set-up with Google.

Follow Tendenci on Google Plus for great website and web marketing advice and tips.

Get a vanity Google Plus URL for free at http://gplus.to!

Check out our photos from the June Houston NetSquared Meetup on our Tendenci Photo Gallery!

**This blog was reposted, with permission, from the Tendenci Blog, the Houston NetSquared's Awesome food and beverage Sponsor: Tendenci, the Open Source CMS for NonProfits. **