Submitted by judy on

Google Apps is the enterprise-level version of Google services, including GMail (web-based email), Google Drive (online document editing and file storage),  Google Groups (email mailing lists and online discussion forums), Google Sites (website creation) and other services.  The Google Apps versions of these services are subtly different from the free versions, in that they recognize your organization’s custom domain name and have a central administration console where your organization’s Google Apps admin can assign users and control domain-wide settings.   

Google Apps for Business is the paid edition of Google Apps, costing $10 per user per year.  Google Apps for Education is a free edition avaliable to educational institutions snd nonprofits.  There used to be a free ad-supported edition of Google Apps available for general use, but it has been discontinued

One compelling reason to set up Google Apps for an organization is the ability to use a robust cloud-based email client (Gmail) to receive and send messages using your custom domain name.  You can also use POP3 or IMAP to access your email via a mobile device or a desktop email client, or you can configure forwarding to have your email redirected to another mailbox.   With Google Groups you can set up email mailing lists using your nonprofit’s custom domain name.

Here are the steps for signing up for Google Apps for Nonprofits. This was the process in 2012 and 2013. As with all cloud services, things might change.

(1)    Enroll in Google for Nonprofits.  (This covers multiple Google services, of which Google Apps is one.)

(2)    Wait (possibly a few weeks) for approval.  

(3)    Sign up for Google Apps for Education, using your domain name.  This will put you in a free 30-day trial of Google Apps for Business, but before the 30 days are up youshould be able to complete the remaining steps and convert it to the free Google Apps for Education account.

(4)    Verify that you own your domain.

(5)    Go to your Google for Nonprofits dashboard and enroll in Google Apps for Nonprofits.

(6)    Wait (possibly a few weeks) for approval.

Here’s more detail about the process:

To sign up for Google for Nonprofits, you’ll have to have a Google account with a GMail address, which will become the contact for your nonprofit’s Google services.  Make sure you have all the information at hand before you start, even though itt doesn’t tell you what information you’ll need until you get to the second page of the application.  Here’s what it asked for in fall of 2012:

  • State that your organization Is a legitimate, registered 501c3 that does not  practice any unlawful discrimination.
  • Organization EIN
  • Organization name
  • Organization mailing address
  • Organization phone number
  • Organization website
  • Nonprofit type (choose from a list)
  • Mission statement describing the nature of the organization, its activities, clientele, and the location of its services.
  • Name, title, and contact Information for the person submitting the application.

When the application is approved, you will get an email with a link to your Google for Nonprofits dashboard.  You’ll come back to the dashboard later.

Now sign up for Google Apps for Education, using the same GMail address you used when you signed up for Google for Nonprofits.  It is important that you sign up for Google Apps for Education (the free version), not Google Apps for Business (the paid version).  But be aware that while you’re waiting to get your nonprofit enrollment processed, it will tell you you’re in a 30-day trial of Google Apps for Business.

As soon as the Google Apps service is activated, go back to your Google for Nonprofits dashboard, go to the area where you enroll in services,  and enroll in Google Apps for Nonprofits.  This will convert your Google Apps account to the free Google Apps for Nonprofits version.

You can now set up users for email or configure other services.  Consult the Google Apps Administrator help pages for how to configure services.  To set up your email delivery, you’ll need to edit the MX records in your domain’s DNS records.  Consult your domain registrar or your web hosting service for instructions about how to make changes to the MX records.  

If you need to migrate from a previous email service, the Google Apps Administrator help will also tell you how to configure dual delivery so that you can have a transition period where email is going to both your old mail server and to the Google Apps mail server, and how to migrate any old mail that your users have archived on the old mail server.