- Social Media
- Active Citizenship
- Good Giving
- Corporate Responsibility
- Be Fearless
For decades now, life around the office has thrived thanks the effectiveness and utility of office suite software, a market largely dominated by Microsoft Office. Office suites provide a universal platform for documents, spreadsheets, presentations, you name it. As Bob Dylan said, however, "the times, they are a changinnnn."
Since its premier in 2006, Google Docs has been leading the charge to revolutionize the traditional office suite by utilizing an internet-based platform, rather than software, to offer a competitive package of convenience: simplicity, accessibility and free of cost.
If the software market is Rome, then Google and other emerging online office suites such as ZOHO are Germanic Tribes, conquering this vast empire piece by piece. In fact, their online platform has been so compelling that Microsoft recently announced that Office 2010 will be released with a free online version alongside its software counterpart. Call me Netstradamus, but thanks to the strength of their secret weapon, the Internet, Google Docs (or one of its online competitors) may soon find its way into every office in the USA. Its platform looks very similar to Microsoft Office, but with a few big time bonuses which save you time, money and hassle. Let's take a look at what it has to offer:
- Sharing: Rather than e-mailing your document back and forth to coworkers, racking up multiple versions of the same document, Google Docs lets you share ONE file online. Coworkers can work on the same doc simultaneously, viewing each other's updates in real time. Not only does this help to cut down on clutter, but you can always be sure that you are viewing the most current document rather than an outdated version.
- On Screen Chat: Allows you to talk together with coworkers and create your presentation or spreadsheet at the same time.
- Compatibility: As Google Docs operates on the Internet, the documents you create can be made accessible to all users, whether they use Mac, PC, Linux, Windows, iPhones, Microwaves, whatever, as long as you have the Internet. What's more, it is also compatible with Microsoft Office (among other platforms), meaning you can upload Office documents to Google Docs, and download your Google files to your computer as Office files (though you might have a couple formatting issues). Thankfully, current Office users will not be left in the dust.
- Revision History: If you're like me, you've had many experiences where you kick yourself after you lose important information by accidentally saving over a document. With Google Docs' revision history, its easy to find all the past versions of your document so that any major changes can be annulled and lost documents can be found. Even if you forget to save your version completely, Google Docs will do it for you.
- IT'S FREE!: I'll say its again, IT'S FREE!
The list goes on. I could talk about security, or the fact you can access your document from anywhere. Google Docs is an incredible tool for nonprofits as it saves time, requires next to zero training and can save your company a bundle of money. To sum up, Wild Apricot laid it right out there for us:
"From my experience, I think that Google Docs is one of the best collaboration tools out there. It is free, powerful and has unlimited storage. It presents a unique way to collaborate and share documents in real time."
Google has realized how important its apps (applications, not appetizers) are to the nonprofit world. In fact, Google Apps Standards Edition (which offers yet more amazing features) is available to all 501(c)(3) registered nonprofits at zero cost. Thanks to their innovation and generosity, Google will continue to make philanthropy more effective, efficient and easy. I will continue to update Learn the Lingo with more of Google's innovations, so stay tuned. In the meantime, check out the Google Non Profits page for more information about how you can utilize their services. Also, check out the video below for a simplified explanation of how Google Docs works.
- Google's tutorial on Google Docs
- Wild Apricot explains how nonprofit board members can get started with Google Docs
- Gappscrib is a great resource for Google Apps users, check out their section on nonprofits
- NTEN has a great section on all things Google Apps