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I work with a lot of nonprofit organizations: lots of churches, regional offices for denominations, charities, board-governed organizations… And most of the time, communication is one of their biggest challenges.
In the case of a local church, their ministry leadership and clergy emails will be a hobbled-together list of Gmail, Hotmail, and internet service provider inboxes, and their public-facing email address might be something like “firstname.lastname@example.org”. This works well enough if you are a team of only 3 or 4 people. But beyond that, this sort of decentralized communication can present some significant obstacles, such as:
- keeping track of valid email addresses
- difficulty in sharing files due to various email providers’ differing spam filters and policies
- finding that your MailChimp emails end up in your recipients’ spam folders because you’re sending from an unverified address like email@example.com
And then there is also the headache of keeping everyone on the same page when various versions of a document are shared amongst your team.
Bring order to chaos with cloud email - free for nonprofits!
The good news is, there are excellent solutions available today that can bring order to your organization’s communication. And if you are a registered nonprofit organization, many of them are available for free. Here’s Google as an example:
Google has developed a really strong set of products called “Google Suite”, which includes domain inboxes powered by Gmail, shared documents and calendars, video chat, user management, and even Google Classroom for education or nonprofit accounts.
With Google Suite, you can create an unlimited number of accounts for your team, each with its own @yourdomain.com address, such as firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
How to sign up for Google Suite
FIRST STOP: TechSoup
TechSoup Canada handles applications for dozens of companies like Google who offer services for free or discounted rates to nonprofit organizations.
- Go to TechSoup Canada and register for an account.
- Once you are logged in, click the link on your account's home screen to register your organization. You will need information such as your organization’s legal name, mission statement, annual expense estimate, registration number (your incorporation’s entity number if you incorporated provincially, or your CRA number if you are a registered charity).
- Once you submit your application, TechSoup will review it (takes approx. 5-7 days usually). If they approve your application, they will send you a “token” which you will need to sign up for services, such as Google Suite.
NEXT STOP: Google
With TechSoup token in hand, head to Google Suite for Nonprofits and click the “Get Started” button.
You’ll click “next” a few times, and then you’ll arrive at a TechSoup screen where you can paste in your TechSoup token.
Google will take a second to verify the token, and then you’re ready to finish up:
FINAL STOP: Setting up your domain to work with Google Suite
This part requires a bit more technical knowledge. For Google Suite to be activated, you’ll need to do 2 things:
- Verify your domain.
Google will lead you through this part. You can verify by uploading a
file to your website’s server, or add a DNS record to your domain’s
settings for Google to detect, or you can add a line of code to your
Edit your domain’s DNS records to allow Google to use it.
In order for Google to handle your email, you need to add some DNS records to your domain’s settings.
- Editing DNS records can be a bit confusing if you don’t work with domain registrars very often. Make sure you get someone’s help if you’re unsure, since you don’t want to cause an issue for your website by accident.
Welcome to the world of stress-free, orderly communication!
With your domain verified and configured, you’re all set!
Now you can head to admin.google.com/
yourdomain and create all the accounts you need.
Say “goodbye” to the days of spurious email contacts, and “hello” to a new day of heel-clicking digital fun! Give me a shout if you need help getting set up. Helping nonprofits succeed is my favourite thing to do.