Google Resources for Arts Nonprofits

A lot of people search for “google arts grants” and end up at our site -- in particular, this article. The problem is, Google doesn’t really do arts grants (sorry!) -- no money to mount an exhibition, produce a new work, or do an educational program. Instead, they mostly give large grants to causes in developing countries, especially when they involve improving ways to manipulate data. What Google will give your arts organization, however, are tools to help you accomplish your mission and do your job better. Some of these tools are free, and some of them are free if you are accepted into the Google for Nonprofits program (and available for a price if you’re not). Below is a list of most of them.

Free Tools from Google

The first thing you should do if you’re interested in free tips from Google is to subscribe to this blog. It will keep you updated on all the new (free) Google apps and tools, as well as announcements about benchmark studies and contests that Google sponsors.

This is where you can view a bunch of short, easy to understand video tutorials about most of the tools listed in this post. You can check out how to set up Google Alerts to track mentions of your organization on the web. There’s a whole online classroom set up for Google AdWords (learning about it is free, but unless you get a grant, you’ll be paying for your AdWords). Also don’t miss Google Analytics - a free tool to track who visits your website, how much time they spend on which pages, and how deep visitors go into your site. (You can also check out the Google Analytics Bootcamp webinar David did this past spring).

  • You Tube

Everybody knows about YouTube- but did you know that Google has provided some pretty nifty tips on how to get more hits on your videos and make them work for your organization? It’s true! There's advice on how to customize your channel, what content to post, and how to distribute that content. Video is the future, you guys.

Have you ever wondered if you could increase online donations or pageviews just by tweaking your website a little? Now you can find out. Website Optimizer is a free multi-variant testing tool. It shows different versions of your site to different people in order to test which version is best. You can set up different things you want to measure (overall visits? bounce rate? pageviews? amount of donations?), the different versions of your site, and Optimizer does the rest. Testing to the rescue!

Forms is basically like a combination of Doodle and Survey Monkey. You email a group of people a form, they enter their responses, and those responses are automatically entered into a Google Docs spreadsheet. Forms also provides a template that automatically generates charts to visualize your data. Busywork of entering responses into spreadsheets, be gone!

This is a tool that would be great for larger organizations, or for anyone who collaborates remotely. It would also be useful for teaching artists who need to communicate with their students. Google Sites allows you to set up your own website where you can share information, like photos, resumes, notes, and more. Of course, you could also do this with Google Docs, but this way you can customize it more and you don’t have to constantly email people to give them access.

Fusion Tables enables you to quickly and easily share data with others and then visualize that data using charts and graphs. The coolest thing about Fusion is its mapping capabilities. If any of your data involves a location, it will put those data points on a map. You can also set up the map to give different categories of data (number of performances, amount of grant money received, etc) different colors. This would be useful for arts agencies, any kind of touring, or education programs that target rural areas.

  • Google Earth & Google Maps

More geolocation tools to tell your story online! With My Maps on Google Maps you can create a map of places important to your organization (click on “My places” and then “Create Map”). Maybe it’s a public art walking tour, or a map of where your art is being displayed. You can add pictures, links, and more to the points on your map. You can also annotate locations on Google Earth using much the same method. More customization is available with Google Earth Pro, but unless you are a Google Grants recipient, that’ll cost you.

Not much to say- a free blogging website. There are lots of other resources out there about blogging, so I’ll just leave it at- it’s free!

From the website:

"Open Data Kit (ODK) is a free and open-source set of tools which help organizations author, field, and manage mobile data collection solutions. ODK provides an out-of-the-box solution for users to:

  1. Build a data collection form or survey;
  2. Collect the data on a mobile device and send it to a server; and
  3. Aggregate the collected data on a server and extract it in useful formats."

This seems like it’s primarily for developing countries and social services, but I could see it being useful for arts agencies, like if you’re collecting data on economic impact.

Paid Tools- free if you are in the Google for Nonprofits Program

(By the way . . . if you’re dreading a huge grant application, don’t. The application is only one page and will take you all of five minutes).

  • Google AdWords (Google Grants)

If you apply and are accepted into the Google Grants/Google for Nonprofits Program, you receive up to $10,000 of free AdWords advertising each month.

From the website: "Organizations that receive a Google Grant are awarded an in-kind online advertising account which can be used it in a variety of ways, including general outreach, fundraising activities, and recruitment of volunteers."

For more information about Google Grants, as well as a testimonial from an artist who was accepted, see Josh’s article from a few years ago (still relevant!).

While it’s free to upload videos to your own YouTube channel, when you’re in the Google for Nonprofits Program, you also get (according to the website):

  • Premium branding capabilities and increased uploading capacity
  • The option to drive fundraising through a Google Checkout "Donate" button
  • Listing on the Nonprofit channels and the Nonprofit videos pages
  • Ability to add a Call-to-action overlay on your videos to drive campaigns

When an individual signs up with Google Checkout, Google saves their credit card information, making purchasing quick and easy. For vendors and charities, enrolling with Google Checkout means that you can have a simple one-click button for patrons to donate or buy. Again, this service is free if you’re in the Google for Nonprofits program, otherwise monthly sales under $3,000 cost 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction.

That’s some of the resources that Google provides to arts nonprofits. Have you used them? What has been your experience? Are there any others that our readers should know about? Share your comments below.