How nonprofits can use Google+ hangouts

Google+ is all the rage right now, especially the new ‘pages’ launched last week. Funny part is, no one really knows what to do with it yet. Tuesday night I had the opportunity to hangout with two nonprofit rockstars – and we did it via Google+ Hangouts. It’s a feature of Google+ that allows conference video chats (like Skype) but quite a bit more.  John Haydon, Marc Pitman and I were discussing Google+ pages for nonprofits when we decided to collaboratively start a blog post…right there…during our Google+ hangout.

Here’s the initial collaboration, and all three of us are posting today about an area of our discussion.  Here’s John’s post, and Marc’s. It got me thinking about the benefits of hangouts for nonprofits. Here’s my initial list – what would you add?

  • Face time – there’s something about seeing people face to face and hearing their voice in real-time that’s so much more intimate, personal and impactful – than any other communication. (duh) Chat with donors, service partners, clients, volunteers and more – saving travel expense an time.
  • Staff meetings – in a tight economy, small nonprofits can struggle with rent and office costs. Skip them both. In Google+ you can collaboratively write notes and use a sketchpad like a whiteboard – all while still seeing up to 10 people face-to-face.
  • Document revision/editing – how many times has someone in your office sent an email to 4 people asking for reviews on an attachment. They’ve just created a tornado of revisions. They’ll get 4 new versions back, have to figure out who’s fixes win out over another and they’re guaranteed to miss something. You can open a document and see everyone’s cursors and real time updates. Pretty cool.
  • Broadcasting knowledge – Apparently live broadcasting is coming soon which would allow organizations to host info sessions, give topic speeches/presentations and more – via a public link beyond the 10 person limit. It’s like each one of us getting our own TedTalks channel.
  • Broadcasting impact – John logged in to our hangout via mobile as well. Can you imagine taking your smartphone into a food pantry in Detroit, a jungle in the Amazon, or a girl’s school in Afghanistan, interviewing service recipients, giving tours and more – all live? The beauty is, it could be private for your board, a particular set of major donors, sponsor prospects – or soon, everyone.

I know there’s a lot more you could do – what would you try?  Post in the comments and join me on Google+…maybe we can hangout and discuss.

31 thoughts on “How nonprofits can use Google+ hangouts

  1. Nathan –

    Great post! I didn’t know all about G+ and really haven’t had the ambition to look through it a lot lately. I wondered if you had any problems merging the documents that you were working on. I’m concerned with the information overload of watching 4 people edit the same document at the same time (good for my self-diagnosed ADD; bad for my decision making to create one document). When all of the individuals have made edits does it allow you to accept changes like in Word?

    Thanks for writing on your blog! I always learn a lot about #philanthropy…


    1. Hey Morgan! You’re right, it did get a little hectic when I would delete John’s addition, then Marc would edit mine, all in real time. I didn’t see a way to give different types of access but I know you can do that in Google Docs. In fact, John and I had it open in Google Docs and were editing live while Marc was using the actual Google+ Notes function. I wonder if you could use Google Doc’s access settings (like the link above is set to view only except for John & Marc). Maybe test that and let me know? Great question

  2. Nonprofit Nate-

    Love this post! I have been using Google+ for awhile now, but mostly to communicate with friends and family. I think your point about staff meetings is great. For people working in cities, telecommuting, missing their connections, etc. this can be a powerful problem-solving tool! I already have a couple people I will be suggesting this too! Thanks for the info and the easy-to-read breakdown of features!


    1. You got it Kari – no prob! As you start using it more – let me know of funky features you find! As John said during our hangout – “I love that Google just throws this out there and lets us dig & find quirks, problems, additions….oh and they’re probably watching us right now!”

  3. I’ve just started wrestling with GoToMeeting and GoToWebinar and paid a lot of money to add these tools to my consulting toolbox. Your post today has me excited about the possibilities. It also has my head spinning about the possibilities for non-profits. I can see an annual campaign committee collaborating online in realtime as they write their campaign plan or conduct prospect identification or qualification work. OMG . . . thanks Nathan! I will be thinking about this ALL DAY. Keep up the great work!

    1. Hey Erik! Love the ideas and energy! There is a ‘share your screen’ function that immediately makes it competitive with GoToMeeting/Webinar, as opposed to trying to upload a powerpoint, prezi, video or something else. Keep me posted on how you use it!

  4. Great post- our creative director and I have been using google+ with extras to collaborate on our upcoming advertising and product marketing. It’s been a great tool (and only slightly buggy!) but otherwise it’s great to connect with remote employees and collaborators!

  5. Hey Nate, I’d love to hear/read your thoughts on the new functions that Hangouts now has, and also is Google+ still all the rage? Around the office we like to think that G+ is for guys and Pinterest is for girls.

    1. Hey Niphal – thx for reading. To be honest, I haven’t been on Google+ since writing this :). I hear the techies hang out there but that’s about it. I’m sure it’s more useful than we’re giving it credit (and time) for but it’ll be tough to pull us away from the dominant Twitter & Facebook.

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