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Google Gives Nonprofits Free Access To Google Apps

Expanding the reach of its Education Edition portfolio is part of Google's greater effort to get the word out and help nonprofits, the company said.

Google draws a lot of flak for its informal corporate motto, "Don't Be Evil." And while there's no way for such a large, international company to escape reproach, Google does a lot of good.

Google plans to co-host a party Thursday night with the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN), a national organization that represents thousands of IT pros who want to help nonprofit entities make better use of technology. At the party, Google is expected to announce that it is making its free Google Apps Education Edition available to registered nonprofits in the U.S. Google Apps includes Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Talk, Google Docs & Spreadsheets, Google Start Page, and Google Page Creator.

Previously, the Google Apps Education Edition was available only to accredited not-for-profit K-12 schools, colleges and universities. Google Apps Standard Edition is free but lacks features and support options available in the Education Edition and in the Premiere Edition ($50 per user per year).

Matthew Glotzbach, product director for Google Enterprise, said that while much of Google's focus is on the commercial market, Google's non-commercial and charitable efforts are "from out point of view, just important, if not more important, for fulfilling our mission and the good of the world."

Google's mission, for those who haven't heard, is "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful."

"We've been doing a number of things to aid the nonprofit sector," said Glotzbach. "This is really part of a greater effort to get the word out and help nonprofits understand all the things we have to offer them."

In June, Google launched an initiative called Google Earth Outreach to help nonprofits communicate using Google Earth as a way to visualize relevant data. That same month, it also launched an environmental initiative called RechargeIT that aims to accelerate vehicle-to-grid energy technology and to reduce carbon emissions. June also saw Google and Intel announce the Climate Savers Computing Initiative, an attempt to extend the World Wildlife Fund's Climate Savers program to cut carbon emissions.

According to Glotzbach, Google already has hundreds of nonprofits using Google Apps Standard Edition.

"We think Google Apps will provide a powerful set of tools for our members," said Katrin Verclas, executive director of NTEN.

However, in light of the sensitive work of some nonprofits, a hosted service isn't always the best choice. In many countries, human rights workers and their associates risk being tortured. This might put a Google Apps password in the wrong hands. "Hosted applications are appropriate for some organizations, but not for others," Verclas acknowledged. "The technology needs to be appropriate to the needs of the organization."

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