The first full day of NTC 09 kicked off with a special dance (mad props to @ntenhross), a great keynote and a session full of Google representatives spreading the (free!) tech love to the nptech community. I must say, I was thrilled to see such a huge, powerful technology coming to not only support but evangelize their myriad programs offered at no cost to nonprofit organizations. The session covered four different programs Google offers at no cost to the nonprofit community.
Everyone knows what Google Adwords are but what you may not know is that Google offers Google Grants (see previous rants on how great these are here) of up to $10K per month to nonprofits to create their own ads and keywords and target them to specific users. These are ads that fit seamlessly online alongside other ads on Google. To give the audience an idea of what ads can be used for, Google shared just a few tactics adwords could help any given org do including:
- Solicit donors
- Enroll subscribers
- Recruit volunteers
- Promote events
A few tips shared on getting the most out of Google Grants: take advantage of granular data to monitor activity, edit and enhance your account regularly to drive better results and use with Google Analytics for maximum impact, plus using the online resources provided like the program website, help center, Google Grants blog, Google Grants forum and the adwords help center.
Blogger, which turns 10 this year, was covered in depth, and I have to admit, I was quite impressed with the features and functionality it offers that I was totally unaware of. Services like TypePad and WordPress tend to be top-of-mind platforms for new bloggers, but the session covered a ton of features about what makes Blogger different and great for nonprofits such as:
- Free hosting (use your own URL!)
- Integration with YouTube, Picassa, and other rich media sites and files
- Complete control over look and feel of the site (customization)
- Free domain mapping
- Photo and video uploading
- Gadget integration with services like Open Social and Friend Connect
- 41 languages
- Ability to post from iGoogle or any other gadget container
- Scheduling posts to be published at a future date
Google shared these pearls of wisdom to the crowd for best practices when using the free blogging service:
- Custom domains are preferable to FTP so use the URL of your choice.
- Social functionality makes sites more “sticky” and helps build community while giving people a reason to come back due to interactivity.
- Templates: don’t settle for the defaults! Get creative with the look and feel of your site. There are lots of third party options and the templating language is pretty sophisticated.
- Syndicate your content using Feedburner. This is great way to get extra visibility, better distribute timely content and provide notifications of new content across websites.
Ramya from YouTube shared all the perks about the YouTube Nonprofit Program and if you’ve ever read my posts here before (see Enhancing your Nonprofit’s Online Presence with Online Video and Nonprofit Rockstars and YouTube Nonprofit Manager share why video is so powerful for storytelling for starters) you know I am a huge fan of this program. In short, the key benefits of the program include:
- Premium branding capabilities
- Ability to upload longer, larger files
- Option to embed a Google Checkout button to drive fundraising
- Designation as a YouTube “nonprofit” channel
And NEW this year, nonprofits now have the ability to drive action from your videos via an in-video ad overlay. What’s special about the new feature? It’s a new way for you to drive action from your YT videos to take external action, sign up or donation pages. It’s easy to create, customizable for every video you post, and can be changed on the fly. And anyone wondering the effectiveness of the new feature should read up on how Charity Water raised over $12,000 in one day via the overlay ad feature in their video for World Water Day.
You might have at one time or another used Google Earth or Google Maps to find a geographic location online but Google Earth is also making a push to help nonprofits use Google Earths and Maps for advocacy and outreach. This is probably the most sophisticated Google tools that was discussed in the session, but it’s implications were clear – Google Earth, Maps, Sketchup and accompanying APIs can help:
- Improve collaboration and decision making
- Outreach and communication to the public
- Increase pub understanding of conservation and social issues
- Impact public policy
As you can see, a ton of great information was shared from the Google team with educational info, helpful tips and even a few success stories thrown in.
To sum up the session, I’d say that Google is offering a great set of tools ot help nonprofits bolster their online presence (which also easily integrate with various other technologies you might be using) and I’d leave you with a fantastic tip shared in the session: the more good, relevant and authoritative content you create, the more Google will like you!
So what are you waiting for? Get your hands on these great tools and get started!