Google has announced a new version of its popular Apps Suite that is free and simple – it doesn’t require any more technical knowledge than entering your email address into a text field. This is great news for nonprofits who want to improve how they collaborate on documents and projects, access documents from any computer, and keep their shared documents more secure.
What is Google Apps? Basically, it’s a suite of applications — Gmail, Google Talk, Google Calendar and Google Docs — that your organization can use to share and edit documents, keep a central calendar, and access all of this from any computer.
But, in the past, if you wanted to take advantage of Google’s excellent and evolving Apps Suite, you had to jump through some seriously technical hoops to make it all work. Nothing too tough for your average technical person, but tough enough to keep many nonprofits without a dedicated IT person from getting on board.
Now all you need to get started is your work email address. Life hacker has posted a useful clip that will get you started.
In other Google-related news, Rebecca at Wild Apricot points out that you can also use Google Forms for online surveys and applications. This free software allows you to custom-build online forms that your members can fill out on their computers. Once they hit Submit, the data will be automatically entered into a spreadsheet in Google Docs. You can then share, manage, or download that spreadsheet into your own database system however you want.
This is a terrific online functionality that many nonprofits pay web developers through the nose to set up and maintain. More and more, you can do this sort of thing for free, with very little technical skill, thanks to the good folks at Google (and elsewhere).