If you run a fiscal sponsorship program (or a fiscally sponsored project), you know that a lot of the great technology products that companies make available to the nonprofit sector for free (or below market rates), aren’t available to you – or are really difficult to access.

And this is true of many Google products that the company offers for free through its “Google for Nonprofits” program: many are completely off-limits for sponsors to access and pass on to their projects, most notably the wildly popular Google Ad Grants program.

(UPDATE: The National Network of Fiscal Sponsors is working to encourage a number of tech companies to change their policies.)

But the same is not true of the company’s Google Workspace product – its email (Gmail), calendar (GCal) and shared document platform (GDrive), along with dozens of other Google products. While GWorkspace is free for nonprofits, no one has really unlocked the code on how fiscal sponsors can sign up for the GWorkspace and then use it both internally and offer it as a benefit to its projects – until now.

Just to be clear, this means that fiscally sponsored projects can now have their own email accounts, calendars and shared documents, all under their own domain name.

Sponsors can do this by creating what Google calls different “Organizations” within their master GWorkspace account.

The next question people usually ask is, “Can each Project have their own Admin but just oversee the people within their Project?” And the answer is a resounding “Yes.”

So if you’re a sponsor and you’ve been asked by your projects for access to these services but thought it wasn’t possible – or if you’re a project and you want to make the case to your sponsor to provide this, you’re in the right place. It takes a little time, and some technical know-how, but I do this for clients and you can too.

How to Use Google’s GWorkspace for Nonprofits

  1. The Sponsor organization needs to sign up for GWorkspace by following the process that starts here. (If the Sponsor already is using GWorkspace, skip to step 3.) If you’re a Project and your Sponsor hasn’t claimed their account, you MAY be tempted to register the Sponsor’s EIN in your Project’s name. Please don’t. It’s going to be a lot more trouble than it’s worth for both your Project and your Sponsor.
  2. The Sponsor should set up their account as instructed.
  3. Once the Sponsor’s account is all set up, to add and individual Project, the Sponsor adds the Project’s existing URL as a Secondary Domain and then works with the Project to verify ownership of the domain and change its MX records. (Google provides great step-by-step instructions on how to do this.)
  4. Once new MX records are inputted and take effect, the Sponsor can then add the Project’s user/email accounts for the new secondary domain, create a standalone Organization for the Project within your User List and set the appropriate admin privileges.
  5. Once this is complete, the Project can begin using those accounts.

Now, below are a few questions I’ve been asked the most on this topic – along with some answers. If you have specific questions about this process or would like some assistance in setting it up, please get in touch or leave a comment below.

We also work with Fiscal Sponsors to manage this entire process for them — from the initial setup, to adding new projects and troubleshooting as needed (You can read more about that service here.)

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does the Sponsor have to use GWorkspace in order for its projects to use it?

No. The Sponsor has to set up the account but does not have to use the GWorkspace products (Gmail, Gcal, etc.) internally.

  • What if the Sponsor already has GWorkspace – what steps does it need to take?

Start with Step 3 above.

  • Does the Sponsor need to contact Google to let them know that Projects are going to be added?

No. This is built into the feature set of GWorkspace so Google does not need to be notified and no other settings need to be adjusted.

  • Can admin privileges be set up so a member of a Project team can have administrative access over ONLY other users from their Project?

Yes. Two of the available Admin roles in GWorkspace can be configured at the “Organization” level meaning that Admins from one organization can only see/modify users from their own Organization.

  • Is it possible for members of the Project team to bring emails from their current provider(s) over to GWorkspace?

Possible, yes (in most situations). But this is probably the biggest complicating factor in getting Project teams on to GWorkspace. I recommend that you seek professional assistance for this if it’s something your organization wants to undertake.

  • How many Projects can I add to one GWorkspace account?

According to Google, each Sponsor account can have up to 600 secondary domains, meaning that Sponsors could add up to 600 project URLs. 

  • Is there a limit on the number of user accounts that one Sponsor can add?

No. According to Google, each Sponsor account can add an unlimited number of email/user accounts.

If we can be of any assistance to your organization in setting this up, please email us.

Google Workspace for Fiscal Sponsors AND Projects!

4 thoughts on “Google Workspace for Fiscal Sponsors AND Projects!

  • June 2, 2023 at 2:02 pm
    Permalink

    Hi, when our sponsor attempts to add our domain as a secondary domain (like it says in step 3 above), they receive an error that states, “this domain name has already been used as an alias or domain”. I have a screenshot of the error but can’t attach anything here. We’re not sure how to solve this issue. Can you help us out?

    Reply
    • June 5, 2023 at 5:35 pm
      Permalink

      Hi David – Thanks for the comment. That kind of error usually means that there is another Google Workspace account that is using your domain already. Is there any chance your project has its own Google Workspace account that it pays for?

      If you want to send us the screenshot please email it to hi [at] schulmanconsulting [dot] com. Thanks.

      Reply
  • March 28, 2024 at 2:16 pm
    Permalink

    I have a question following up on David’s comment and your response. Our organization is a sponsored project. Our fiscal sponsor would be willing to help us set up Google Workspace as a nonprofit. However, we already have established and are utilizing Google Workspace. We are paying Google monthly for that service using our own established domain. How do we make such a change?

    Reply
    • March 29, 2024 at 8:36 am
      Permalink

      Hi Dave – The situation you’re describing requires the most complicated version of the process. You essentially have to migrate your data/user accounts and THEN move your domain over, which requires more technical work than if you didn’t have your own paid version of Google Workspace or if you were using another email provider.

      For these types of migrations, you’re really going to need a professional, unless your sponsor has pretty experienced IT folks that they are willing to make available.

      If our team can be of assistance, please let us know. Our migration manager has done more than a dozen of these and is the best in the business.

      Reply

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