Google. Can you imagine life without it?

We use it every single day – and in so many ways. There's Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Hangouts, Maps and more. And we can't forget where it all started: good old-fashioned Search.

And as much as you use Google, I'd bet there are tools and programs that you're not using…and that could benefit your nonprofit.

GOOGLE ALERTS

As a kid, I remember watching my dad read the local paper while I ate breakfast. I'd read the headlines upside-down, while he read the paper cover to cover.

I can still see him clipping articles, typically a business or civic announcement about someone he knew. He'd always pen a quick note before mailing the clipping off to a colleague, friend or family member.

My dad would have loved Google Alerts.

Google Alerts will monitor what's being said about people (or businesses or themes) that interest you, and email you a link to new content. You can choose to receive daily alerts, weekly alerts or notices as they happen.

Set alerts for your board members, your major donors and your key volunteers. Then, when you get a notification, you can send them a quick email or note acknowledging what they did.

It's an easy and effective way to keep up with – and stay connected to – people who are important to you and your organization.

GOOGLE MOBILE-FRIENDLY TEST

By now, I'm betting your nonprofit has a website. And you might very well be one of the two-thirds of Americans who have a smart phone.

If you do have a smart phone, you've likely experienced the frustration of visiting a site that's not "mobile-friendly." Often, websites look great on a PC, but they don't look right – and often they don't behave well – on a phone or tablet.

Even if you have a smart phone, the best way to test your website is to use Google's Mobile-Friendly Test tool. (Just click here, https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/, and type in your URL.)

If your site is mobile-friendly, you'll get a thumbs up. More importantly, if your site isn't mobile-friendly, Google will make specific suggestions about what makes it incompatible.

IMPORTANT! Just because your site is mobile-friendly, that doesn't mean that your donation page is. If you're using a third-party processor, be sure to test your donation page as well.

Keep Google's mobile-friendly recommendations in mind when designing your next website. Also know that most designers today will use what's called Responsive Web Design, so your site looks (and works) great on all devices.

GETTING FOUND ON GOOGLE

Google is always tweaking its algorithm to give users better search results. Did you know that Google makes between 500-600 changes a year?

Most changes are minor. Among the more major ones, earlier this year, Google announced that mobile-friendly sites will get preference in Search. And last year, Google changed its algorithm to give preference to secure sites.

How do you know if your site is secure? Look for the "s" at the end of https:// in the address bar when you visit a website.

If you don't see the https:// on your website, talk to your web developer.

Remember, people will still find you when they type in your direct URL. It's when someone is doing a general search that having a mobile-friendly and secure site can help people find you and your website.

For example, imagine someone searches "music camp for kids." If your organization offers that kind of programming, you want to be in the top results. Your website content has always been important in helping people find you online. And now, having a mobile-friendly and secure site helps, too.

GOOGLE ADS & GOOGLE GRANTS

Another way to help people find your website is with Google Ads. These are the top line and bottom page advertisements you see when you search in Google.

Businesses pay for this service, and nonprofits can get a $10,000 monthly Google Adwords credit thanks to Google Grants.

There are some eligibility requirements for getting started and also steps for maintaining your eligibility. 

You can learn more about Google Grants, what they are and how they work here.

WHAT SHOULD YOU TAKE AWAY FROM THIS?

Google is bigger and better than ever. And it's much, much more than just a search engine.

Make sure you're putting the power of Google to work for you.


    TIPS OF THE TRADE

    Alerts and Search and Grants – Oh My!

    Want to know more about how Google works and, specifically, how you can make it work for you? Check out these resources and ways to reach more supporters.

    Want to create better alerts? Click here.

    Want to know how Google Search Works? Everything from Algorithms to Answers.
    Click here.

    Hubspot offers these 10 ways for nonprofits to get the most out of Google Grants.
    Click here.

    BONUS: Want more? Check out these 8 Google Tools You May Not Know About


    Third Sector Consulting helps nonprofits find more funders, win more grants and raise more money.

    Send a message to start the conversation and learn how Laura can help you and your organization.