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G Suite: free tools for nonprofit organisations

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I have blogged previously about tools that can free workers from the office. In this one I will discuss G Suite, tools from Google that can bring a team together, whether or not they’re based in the same place.

History of G Suite

Google launched their G Suite products in 2006, offering their alternative to established Microsoft Office products like Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Since then, they have gone on to develop a wide range of tools, supporting online file storage and sharing, business communication, video delivery and online marketing.

While G Suite is usually a paid service, costing from just over £4 per user-per month, they have, for a number of years, made it available to nonprofit organisations free of charge.

What’s available?

The following tools are a sample of what’s available in G Suite. The list is by no means exhaustive:

  • Gmail – the email you may already have from Google, with the option of connecting up your organisation’s domain name (i.e.
  • Docs – a word processor, equivalent to Microsoft Word. Documents can be downloaded in a range of formats, including DOCX and PDF.processor.
  • Sheets – a spreadsheet tool, equivalent to Microsoft Excel.
  • Slides – used to produce presentations, equivalent to Microsoft PowerPoint.
  • Drive – an online storage area for documents of all kinds and formats. Create folders to organise work and share with other users.
  • Calendar – add appointments and share with others. Calendars can be embedded on websites for public access.
  • Forms – this tool allows for the simple development of online forms. These can be embedded on websites for users to add details to. Information can be sent by email to an administrator’s mailbox or feed directly onto a Google Sheet.
  • Keep – this is a tool used to store short notes and links that a user might want to refer back to at a later date or time.
  • Chat and Hangouts – these are communication channels that support written, voice and video communication.
  • Meet – this is a virtual meeting space for whole teams to gather online.
G Suite tools

The advantages for organisations

So, why should organisations consider switching to G Suite?

Firstly, the tools are available anywhere. You don’t need to install software on a desktop or laptop computer. Instead, you can access them from any device, on any web browser. This means that staff can work away from the office and have instant access to their files.

G Suite is not platform-specific so can run on devices using Windows, MacOS, iOS or Android (obviously). Native apps are available to install on mobile devices like phones and tablets if required.

Secondly, the tools are set up to allow multiple users to access and edit the same documents at the same time. All edits display immediately, allowing for real-time collaboration. This saves multiple versions of documents being sent around by email; indeed, it removes the need to email them at all! A chat feature appears if more than one person is online, allowing for in-app communication.

Thirdly, G Suite offers document storage for organisations. Drives include both personal and shared spaces, and unique user permissions can be set for each folder. Each G Suite user has 30GB of storage available, double that offered with a personal Google account.

List of files in Google Drive

G Suite in practice

I used G Suite extensively during my time in Edinburgh Napier’s Web Team.

As an individual, I used it to produce and host a range of documents including user guides and analytics reports. As a member of a wider team, I collaborated with others on the development of an induction programme for new starts and a spreadsheet used to log hundreds of web requests.

In my freelance business I have registered, setup and administered G Suite for several nonprofit organisations in collaboration with Balerno Digital. I have also run training sessions for a community group and a charity based in and around Edinburgh, Scotland.

Try G Suite for yourself

Looking for new ways for your nonprofit organisation’s staff to work together, or interested in finding out what G Suite can do for you? Or perhaps you’re already using the tools but want to know how to get more out of them? Get in touch!

If you’re considering signing up for G Suite for non-profits but don’t know where to start, visit the Balerno Digital website or send me a message.

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