Google Apps – No longer accepting new sign-ups for free version.

I am sure that most of my esteemed colleagues in the “not-for-profit” technology world are already aware of this. However, I thought that I would pass along some information that I received from google the other day regarding changes to their free Google Apps service…just in case. 

Hello from Google,

Here’s some important news about Google Apps—but don’t worry, there’s no need for you to take any action. We just want you to know that we’re making a change to the packages we offer.

Starting today, we’re no longer accepting new sign-ups for the free version of Google Apps (the version you’re currently using). Because you’re already a customer, this change has no impact on your service, and you can continue to use Google Apps for free…

Those of us who support nonprofit organizations are always managing risks when it comes to software licensing. For instance, Adobe removed one of their charity licensing levels earlier this year. This resulted in higher costs of licensing for certain non-profit organizations. Personally, I am not complaining. I am very thankful for any level of charity licensing that is available. Furthermore, I am very thankful that Google has decided not to remove this free service from existing customers.

The challenge comes in managing the change. I support several, very small, faith-based, nonprofit organizations. These organizations have fewer than 10 staff, if they have any paid staff at all. Licensing cost changes can cause these tiny non-profit organizations to change their entire tactical plan for how they intend to leverage technology to accomplish their mission.

Fortunately Google has changed their licensing to allow faith based organizations back into their “Google for nonprofits” program. Therefore, the nonprofit organizations I support now and future non-profits I support can at least apply for Licensing.

As great as it is that Google now allows faith based organizations to participate in their nonprofit program, Google could change their licensing again at any time. Budgets are not very flexible for any organization. A licensing change that would exclude faith-based organizations could be devastating to their operational plans.

So what does this mean? Should nonprofits avoid Google and products because they make changes to their products. As for me, I plan on continuing to use and recommend Google products when I find that their services are a good fit for use at the nonprofit organizations I support. Managing licensing risks is all part of the job for technologists who focus on serving nonprofit organizations. All I ask is…Please Google, Please Adobe, Please Microsoft, etc. Please continue to offer your gracious charity pricing to faith based organizations so that I can continue to offer excellent options to the churches and community centers I support. I promise to do my best to do good things that bless people with the gracious charity licensing options that you provide.

With regard to Google removing their free Google Apps option? It was great while it lasted. As I stated above, I will continue to use and recommend Google. However, I will also keep an eye open for other options…just in case.

Additional Reading:
Wall Street Journal Article

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