From bringing an aquarium online through live webcams to building an app that prepares underrepresented students for the workforce, nonprofits around the world are responding to issues facing their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Using technology as a key resource, these organizations are showing resilience, determination and flexibility while also trying to quickly adapt to everything that’s happening this year. Google for Nonprofits is now available in 67 countries around the world, offering free tools and resources for organizations to boost productivity, engage supporters and spread the word about their stories. Here’s how three organizations continue to make an impact with help from Google tools.
Providing workshops for budding entrepreneurs
Instituto Fazendo Acontecer (IFA) is a nonprofit based in São Paulo, Brazil which provides entrepreneurial education for vulnerable children and adolescents. Before COVID-19 became a concern, they ran eight types of in-person free workshops to prepare students for their professional futures and strengthen their roles as citizens, regardless of their backgrounds.
At the start of the pandemic, they worked quickly to move education programs online. They developed a free mobile app with their learning curriculum available in both English and Portuguese, so students could access workshops, educational games and training experiences from any location. IFA also started using Google Meet to create an interactive environment from home and connect teachers to students.
With these new app-based workshops and remote work capabilities, they soon realized this was an opportunity to expand their programs from São Paulo to more locations. So far, they have supported more than 8,000 students. IFA expects to engage 10,000 more this year by partnering with teams around the world, and they have more than doubled their instructors during the pandemic. “Google has helped us provide the tools we needed in a moment when we weren't sure how to keep our work running, and this was key for our success,” says Jose Dornelas, IFA’s president.
Bringing interactive activities online
California Academy of Sciences is an aquarium, planetarium and natural history museum in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park—and a powerful global voice for biodiversity research, environmental education and sustainability. Normally, they see around 1.5 million visitors every year. Prior to COVID-19, they opened their doors every Thursday night for an experience called NightLife, a themed interactive event that immerses visitors in a mix of science, art and culture.
With the museum closed due to the pandemic, they had to quickly reorganize their approach to start working remotely. In just two weeks, they started to find ways to support the community and make these nighttime programs still accessible.
With help from G Suite for Nonprofits, staffers used Google Chat and Meet to stay in touch and brainstorm ideas virtually. They had dabbled in livestreaming before, so they decided to create a YouTube livestream for NightLife, bringing in many production partners like scientists, musicians and programming teams to create a virtually engaging experience. Their YouTube channel became more popular than ever before with people tuning in to join educational programs, take part in Nightlife and to enjoy live animal webcams. With the in-person exhibits remaining closed for the time being, NightLife continues each week to bring its after-hours educational experience to the community.
Supporting volunteers and addressing uncertainty
Venture 2 Impact, based in Halifax, Canada, works to break the cycle of poverty for individuals, families and communities by connecting skilled professionals with the communities around the world that need their support. Before the pandemic, they had tech experts travel around the world to lead workshops and trainings. But when travel was no longer safe, they had to reassess their entire strategy while helping volunteers cope with loneliness, anxiety and fear about the future. Their challenge was to figure out how to use technology to inspire hope within volunteers and continue to provide support to the communities they serve.
They focused on understanding the challenges of NGO partners by using surveys with Google Forms. Then, they determined which training videos to produce, reached out to industry experts to create them and used Google Calendar to organize the schedule. Google Meet, which is now free for everyone, was essential in delivering and recording the workshops. Then, they uploaded the videos to YouTube to share them with their nonprofit community in India, Nepal, Thailand, Romania and Rwanda, and they organized the content into playlists to make it easier for viewers to find.
To support volunteers in the U.S., Ireland, the U.K. and Canada, they created a mental health-focused virtual series hosted on Google Meet called WholeHearted Thursdays. They also created a room on Google Chat to share simulating articles, videos and ideas. Google tools helped them to launch new programs quickly, engage their staff, partners and volunteers in meaningful ways and tackle the problems that each community is facing.