In mid-March 2011, Google launched Google for Nonprofits.
Once your group is approved (approvals take weeks to months), the free tools help you generate funds, streamline operations, generate awareness, and so forth.
Caveat: I’d say Google for Nonprofits is one of those benefit auction technologies most appropriate for smaller nonprofits which are tech-friendly but resource strapped. If your nonprofit hasn’t already invested in a robust benefit auction software program (which already handles a number of these features), consider Google.
Try these Google for Nonprofit features to get started.
Attract bidders through Google Adwords to sell a unique item for big bucks.
Yes, Adwords is good for branding your charity. It can also be used to zero in on your auction. I can see this tool as being great to use if you’re given an exceptional donation that would likely sell for more money if it was offered to a larger population outside your gala.
Assume your charity is donated a pristine 1965 Mustang convertible. A muscle car will garner interest from car enthusiasts everywhere … and will sell for more money to a worldwide audience than to a small population of gala guests. You’re better off using Adwords to catch buyers’ eyes and selling the car in an online auction.
(Or bypass it all and engage the services of a professional auto auction company to sell it for you).
Use Google Docs to share spreadsheets
Are donations flowing in? Put that Excel document on Google Docs to allow your entire procurement committee to access and update it when they need to.
Or the sponsorship committee can read that “Betty talked with Midas on Commercial Blvd. and the mechanic said to call back on Tuesday when his manager is working.”
When you have a highly distributed volunteer force (as auctions do) and no money to buy software, sharing lists and spreadsheets in a collaborative environment help reduce your pain.
Plan a committee meeting with Google Calendar
If your auction committee is game, everyone’s calendar can be shared.
(Or use other tools to schedule meetings.)
Learn what grabs interest using Google Analytics
If you have a webpage devoted to your auction — or even an entire website, as I’ve seen with some groups — you can use Google Analytics to see where online users are spending their time. What sections of the page / website do they click first? What items are most popular? You can customize your auction to match the interest.
If you’re advertising your benefit auction through other means (e.g. a school or partner’s website) you can gauge how many people visited your Website from the other Website. It’s also excellent for tracking sponsorship click-throughs.
Convey a visual picture with Google Maps
If your organization is regional or national, use some of the amazing graphics in Google Maps to visually show guests where you need money.
One of the videos on Google’s blog shows how a conservancy group used maps to convey polluted beaches around the world. Graphics are excellent to use when setting up a cash appeal.
Promote a call-to-action with an overlay on your videos
Have you ever watched a video to see a message pop-up at the end that says something like, “Click here for details,” or “Input your email to watch the rest of this video?”
That’s called an overlay.
Assume you’ve produced a video that will be shown at the gala to talk about your cash appeal. Why not put the video on your Website prior to your gala … add an overlay that says, “Click here to donate to this cause” … and encourage viewers to make a donation right then?
And that leads me to the final point…
Facilitate online donations through a Google checkout “Donate” button.
If a guest can’t make it to the auction, he can still donate to the cause by clicking the button.