Google Apps is described by Google as
“a cloud-based productivity suite that helps you and your team connect and get work done from anywhere on any device. It’s simple to setup, use and manage, allowing you to work smarter and focus on what really matters”
It is mostly widely used for email because you get all of the power of Gmail (especially the spam protection) with the branding of your own domain name. For example, I use Google Apps for carsonw.com, and I use the Gmail interface to receive, send, and manage email for my email address: email@example.com.
I also have set up various email aliases such as firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com. When someone sends an email to one of these addresses, it is automatically routed to my one and only email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Google Apps for Business (as of September 2013) is priced at $50/yr per user. For a staff of 10, this amounts to $500/yr, which, for all the power and amazing features of Google Apps, is a sweet, sweet deal.
However, what if you could get the entire suite of Google Apps (and more! – such as Google Grants, for example) completely free because your Catholic parish is a 501(c)3 non-profit?
Well, You can! And, I’m going to show you how below.
Here’s the rub, though… It can be a daunting task to apply and get approved because Google asks for your Employer Identification Number (EIN) in the application process, and Google checks that EIN against the IRS’s online database of 501(c)3 entities.
“Please know that, Google for Nonprofits Program is open only to those organizations that have a registered 501(c)(3) public charity status on IRS online database.”
There is a 99.99% chance that your parish will not appear in that database. “Why?” you ask. The answer lies in the fact that your parish has been declared a 501(c)3 by the IRS through something called a group ruling. The following is an excerpt from a letter to the USSCB from the IRS dated June 12, 2013:
“Our records indicate that you were issued a determination letter in March 1946, that you are currently exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code… With your request, you provided a copy of the Official Catholic Directory… which includes the names and addresses of the agencies and instrumentalities and the educational, charitable, and religious institutions operated by the Roman Catholic Church in the United States, its territories, and possessions that are subordinate organizations under your group tax exemption…”
I am here to say that there is an easy loophole you can jump through to get easily approved.
You can apply for Google for Nonprofits as a “branch/project/division” under the umbrella organization of the Unites States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), which has an Employer Identification Number that does appears in the online database of the IRS. You apply with the USCCB’s EIN (Employer Identification Number), which is 53-0196617.
If you encounter any difficulties, you can email email@example.com and they generally will get back to you within a day.
If you need it, the USCCB’s Group Exemption Number is 0928.
Once You Are Approved
Once you have received your approval by email from Google, you will still have to
1. Sign up for Google Apps for Business trial edition
2. Verify that you own your domain name through your free trial account
3. Enroll in Google Apps for Nonprofits
You cannot complete Step 3 above without first having verified that you indeed have control of and own your domain name (e.g., myparishname.com), and you can only complete this verification by having a Google apps account, which you can obtain for free by signing up for a trial edition.
If all of this is gibberish to you and you wish to hire me to do all of this for you, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will be happy to assist.