Be productive and collaborative
using Google products and tools
In this guide you’ll learn how to
- Organize your inbox with labels and filters
- Collaborate with colleagues on a Google Doc
- Share your calendar and efficiently schedule meetings
- Use Tasks or Keep to track your to-do list
Your time is important - every minute spent searching for email in your inbox or coordinating your next meeting is time away from writing your nonprofit’s next grant or making a difference for the communities or causes you serve.
Google Workspace is designed to help teams work faster, smarter, and more collaboratively than ever before. Whether you are starting fresh with Google Workspace for Nonprofits or you are migrating from another office productivity tool, this guide will help you hit the ground running.
Before getting started, you’ll need
A Google Workspace for Nonprofits Account
Learn more about how to get your nonprofit signed-up and running on Google Workspace, here!
Best practice is for your nonprofit to set up Google Workspace for Nonprofits and provide all employees with their own login under that Google Workspace account. However, you can also use a personal Google account.
Google Workspace Knowledge
Finding that no one on your team has used Google Workspace or associated apps before? Share the Google Workspace Learning Center for more resources on each of the apps.
Use Gmail labels and filters to organize your inbox
We spend a lot of our day looking at our inbox. Gmail’s labels feature helps you to categorize and group similar emails to make them easier to find and organize in your inbox.
SET UP LABELS
- Labels are a bit like folders, but better because you can apply more than one to any given message and then find that message via either label. To start, think of labels that might be useful to your role -- for example, as a development officer you may want to create a label for all emails from high value donors. To create a label in Gmail:
- Click “Settings” icon and then select “Settings” from the menu.
- Click the Labels tab.
- Scroll to the Labels section and click “Create new label.”
- Enter the label name and click “Create.”
To apply a label to a new email:
- In your inbox, check the boxes next to the email.
- Click the “Labels” icon .
- Check the boxes next to the labels you want to add and click “Apply.”
To move the email from your inbox to a label:
- In your inbox, check the boxes next to the email you want to move.
- Click the “Move to” icon .
- Click the label you want to move your email to.
Your email will move from your inbox into the folder you specified. You can find the email again by selecting the label from the left-hand navigation. When you click on the label you will see all emails you’ve labeled with that same topic.
SET UP FILTERS
- Now that you have labels set up, you can create a rule in Gmail to automatically filter incoming email and apply certain labels. Using the example above, imagine that Jane Doe is a high value donor to your nonprofit and you want to apply a “High Value Donor” label to all emails from Jane to make sure you respond to her in a timely manner.
To set up a filter:
- In the Gmail search box, click the Down arrow on the right-hand side.
- Enter your search criteria, then click “Create filter.” For example, here you could enter Jane Doe’s email in the From field.
- Check the “Apply the label” box and choose a label to automatically sort incoming email fitting your search criteria (e.g. “High Value Donor”). If you’d like emails fitting your search criteria to be automatically moved out of your inbox, but want to be able to access them later, check "Skip the Inbox (Archive it)".
- Click “Create filter” on the bottom right.
Use Google Docs to collaborate with colleagues
Imagine you are working on a grant and the submission deadline is less than a week away. You still need input from your program officers, review by your Director of Development, and sign-off from the President of your nonprofit. Now imagine you can share one final draft with all of these groups to get their specific input - no version control, no confusion! That’s the power of Google Docs.
CREATE AND SHARE A DOCUMENT
You can start a new Google Doc from a few places:
- In Google Drive, click the “New” button on the left with the plus sign, and then select Google Docs from the dropdown list.
- Type www.docs.google.com in a new browser window to create a new blank document.
- Name your document by clicking the “Untitled” name at the top of your page, and get to work on your draft!
When you are ready to share, consider what access you want to give each person:
- View access allows users to see the document itself, but does not allow them to see comments or suggestions from other reviewers. You can tell you have view-only access to a document by looking for the “Viewing” icon on the top right of the page.
- Comment access allows users to suggest changes to your document text via “Suggesting” mode. It also allows users to insert comments into the document by highlighting text and clicking the small comment bubble that pops up to the right of the page. You can tell you have comment-only access to a document by looking for the “Suggesting” icon on the top right of the page.
- Edit access allows users to directly edit, add, and remove content from your document. It also allows them to add other users with varying permissions.
- Keep in mind, if you are sharing sensitive documents like financial files, you can further control access to your document by clicking “Share” in the top right, then clicking “Advanced,” and finally by reviewing and checking the boxes listed under Owner Settings.
If you are adding multiple users with the same permissions:
- Click “Share” at the top right and then add each user email and change the permission setting accordingly. It’s best practice to enter a quick message to your users telling them why you are adding them to the document. Click “Share” at the bottom, and Google Docs will email each user letting them know you’ve shared the document and providing the link.
If you are adding multiple users with different permissions and would like to add them without sending notifications:
- Click “Share” at the top right, then click “Advanced.” Enter the names of the people you want to invite to the document and their permission level, but be sure to uncheck the “Notify People” box. Once you’ve added each user, send an email to the group with the link to the document and a few notes on how you’d like each person to provide feedback. When they click on the link, each user will be taken to your Google Doc but will only have the permission you applied to them individually.
- You and your reviewers are now ready to collaborate in real time! Each of you can have the document open at the same time, and you will see all the edits / comments each reviewer puts into the document.
REVIEW COMMENTS / SUGGESTIONS AND CHECK VERSION HISTORY
- Ready to review comments and suggestions from your colleagues? Open your document and review the comments by scrolling through the document and clicking comments to see what text is highlighted.
- If you want to quickly scroll through comments listed in chronological order, you can click the “Comment” icon at the top right of the page.
- If you have a follow-up comment or question for someone that commented into your document, click on the comment box and type your message in the “Reply” field. The original commenter will receive an email letting them know what you replied! Once you’re done with a comment, you can click “Resolve” at the top right to remove the comment from the document. Don’t worry, though - if you want to see the comment again just go to the “Comment” icon at the top of the page.
- When users are using suggestion mode, text additions will show as colored text in your document while deletions will show up as a colored strikethrough line. If you agree with a particular suggestion, you can click the check mark for “Accept Suggestion” in the top right of the suggestion box. If you disagree, you can reject in the same way.
- If any of your collaborators accidentally edits the document in a way you weren’t expecting, you can revert back to a previous version to see what changed! Click "File" > "Version history" > "See version history", to see every change that was made to your document, when, and by whom. To revert to a previous version, click on “Restore this version”. You can always revert back to the most recent version as well.
- Review this handy help center article for more details on how to add, edit, reply, or delete comments!
FINALIZE AND SHARE DOCUMENT
- When you are ready to share your document, change existing collaborators access to view-only to ensure no additional changes are made to your final document. At this point, you may want to add additional team members or nonprofit aliases to your document so more colleagues can view the final product.
- If you need your final document in a different format, you can click "File" > "Download as" and select from the list of formats available (including PDF). Click here for more tips on collaborating with Google Docs!
Use Google Calendar to share your schedule and efficiently plan meetings
Don’t spend your time emailing back and forth to find a good time to meet with colleagues! If your nonprofit uses Google Workspace and Google Calendar, you can see colleague’s calendars and easily schedule meetings for when all attendees are free.
SET UP AN INDIVIDUAL OR TEAM CALENDAR
- To set up your individual work Google Calendar, you’ll need to login to the nonprofit Google account provided to you by your Google Workspace Administrator. Next, go to calendar.google.com and bookmark this link! Check you are logged into your nonprofit account by looking at the picture in the circle at the top right.
First, check out the settings for your work calendar. Click the gear icon at the top and then click “Settings.” On the left-hand side, scroll to the “General” section. A few settings that may come in handy include:
- Timezone. If your team works in a few different locations, you can select to display a second timezone on your Google Calendar so that you are scheduling meetings at the right time for both parties.
- Working Hours. If you tend to work consistent hours in the office and leave time for commutes or childcare pickup, you can let your colleagues know by checking the “Enable working hours” box and specifying when you are available. When a colleague tries to schedule you for a meeting outside your working hours, they will receive a notification letting them know when you are typically available.
Next, go to the left-hand navigation and scroll down to “Settings for My Calendars” and click on your work Calendar. A few settings that may come in handy include:
- Access Permissions. Check the box to make your calendar available to people within your domain, and then decide whether you want colleagues to be able to see all event details (e.g. name, other attendees) or only see when you are free/busy (e.g. they will see a block of time that says “Busy” for each of your meetings).
- Event Notifications. You know your own working style best! Set your meeting event notifications so that you’ll be ready for your meetings and on time.
You may also want to set up a team calendar to share important events with your colleagues. For example, the development team may want to share important upcoming fundraising events with the communications team so that everyone is aligned. To create a shared calendar:
- Go to Calendar Settings and on the left-hand navigation, click “Add calendar” and then “New calendar.” Pick a name and provide a description for your team calendar, and click “Create calendar.”
- Next, scroll down on the left-hand navigation for “Settings for my calendars” and click on your new team calendar name. Under “Share with specific people” you can either add the individuals from your team with permissions to make changes and manage sharing, or you can add a team alias.
- Finally, you can share the calendar with your broader organization by adding individuals or aliases to the calendar with “view only” access. Now anyone can see your calendar events and know when things are coming up!
SCHEDULE A TIME TO MEET WITH COLLEAGUES
Once you have your individual work calendar set up, it’s time to start scheduling! To create a new event, click the plus sign. You can add an event title and details, add a Meet video conference link, change how users are notified, and add an event description and link to relevant documents.
- To add colleagues and figure out when everyone is free, first add your colleague’s emails in the “Add guests” field on the right. When all attendees are added, click the “FIND A TIME” tab below event details. If your colleagues are all using your nonprofit’s Google Workspace account for their work calendar, you will be able to see when they are free or busy!
- If you’d like to avoid the inevitable requests for rescheduling, check the box next to “Guests can modify event” on the bottom right of the calendar invite so that attendees can move the meeting to a different free time if needed.
- Click “SAVE” at the top and a meeting invite will be sent to all attendees! Click here for more tutorials on how to set up and use Google Calendar!
Use Google Keep to track your to-do list
Still keeping your to-do list in a notebook or on slips of paper on your desk? Time to bring task tracking into the digital age! Google Keep is a task management tool designed to help you track your to-dos from any device, anywhere, with intelligent search and sharing capabilities.
SET UP GOOGLE KEEP
- You can access Google Keep via www.keep.google.com in your browser, via the Google Keep app on Android or iPhone, or via the side panel in Gmail, Docs, Sheets, Slides and other Google Workspace apps. To access the side panel, click the “Show side panel” button on the bottom right of your screen.
- If you do most of your work in Chrome, you can open Google Keep in it’s own tab and then pin the tab so that it always appears in your browser when you open it. To pin a tab, right click on a tab and click “Pin tab.” It will move to the far left of your browser and you will see the small Keep icon at the top of the tab.
TRACKING AND SHARING TO-DO ITEMS
- To create a new note in Keep, start typing in the open space at the top where it says, “Take a note…” You can title the note with a meeting name or date as a way to find it again.
Some trips & tricks for your Google Keep notes:
- Use color-coding to keep track of notes with similar themes or notes that are associated with the same project or effort.
- If you are brainstorming on a whiteboard, take a photo of your brainstorm and add the image to your Google Keep note so you can keep track of it!
- If you have a more standard to-do list with quick tasks, use checkboxes to mark things as complete! At the bottom of a Keep note, click the three dot icon and then select “Show checkboxes.”
- Add a label to your notes to categorize them and find them more easily. Click the three dot icon at the bottom of your Keep note and click “Add label.” To see all notes with that label in the future, use the left-hand navigation to see all notes with that label.
- Share Google Keep notes with your colleagues by clicking the Collaborator button at the bottom of a note and adding the email of the colleague you’d like to add.