I am continually amazed by the services Google has to offer, and the fact that they are all free. Granted, it’s only a matter of time until Google takes over the world, but I, for one, welcome our Google overlords. If your chapter isn’t utilizing the Google monster to it’s full potential, perhaps I can help you comprehend the awesome power these services can provide for your chapter.
Here’s how old I am; I actually remember applying to be put on the waiting list for a “Google Mail” account, and sending out invites to my friends once I actually got my account. Clearly, Gmail has come a long way since then, and now anyone and everyone has the ability to use this service. So how can this help your chapter?
If you don’t already have e-mail established through your own domain, sign the chapter up for a Gmail account. Something like “TulaneSigEps@gmail.com” or “DeltaZetaUSC@gmail.com” should work. Use these e-mail addresses on recruitment publications, letters sent home to family members, and the contact page of your website. This will afford you a greater sense of professionalism than a hodgepodge of personal e-mail address. Assign one member of the chapter to read through the chapter e-mails everyday, and forward them to the appropriate individuals.
Members can then choose to respond to these e-mail through their personal e-mail account, or they can reply from your chapter account. To do the later, go to you Gmail settings, select “Accounts and Import”, then play around with the “Send mail as” option. Sometimes a personal reply is needed, but the option to remain anonymous is nice.
This method of a standard Gmail account can work for specific events as well. Does your chapter host a huge powderpuff football tournament every year? Then set up “AOIIrosebowl@gmail.com”, and use this account to correspond with all the team captains.
Aside from making your chapter look a little more professional, a standard Gmail account can be passed on from year to year. Your alumni, advisors, College/University administrators, friends, families, and your interfraternal partners will always know how to get in contact with the chapter, regardless of who currently hods the leadership positions. Also, it helps to protect your leaders. Putting all of your personal e-mail addresses on your chapter website is a great way for the internet robots to harvest your e-mail address and spam away.
Is your chapter looking for an easy way to put a real-time calendar of chapter events on your website? Do you want to have a separate public calendar and members-only calendar? Then Google Calendar has you covered.
The beauty of Google Calendar, and many other Google Apps, is that you can control who has access to view, edit, and invite others to contribute. So all it will take is one chapter member to start the process, and you can pass on your calendar from year to year.
It’s my recommendation that you set up one calendar for public events, and another for chapter events. Then, on your chapter website, you can easily embed the public calendar. To keep your members-only calendar separate, you can either utilize the members-only section of your website, or grant every chapter member access to view the chapter calendar. Even if your chapter members do not have a Google account, they will still be able to see these calendars.
Once you’ve added all of your chapter’s events on your calendar(s), it’s time to share it with the world. Google Calendar will generate the HTML code you need to embed a beautiful, interactive calendar on your website. Once you embed the calendar on your website, it will automatically update anytime you add a new event. In addition, any visitor to your site can simply click the “copy to my calendar” button and directly import any event to their own personal Google Calendar.
Google Calendar gives your chapter the ability to improve communication both internally and externally. Think how great it would be to not to have to answer 30 texts, emails, and facebook messages before every meeting or event confirming time and location.
That’s all for part one of the Google monster. I started with the obvious ones this time. Look forward to the next part where I take on Google Docs; this service is so amazingly useful and expansive that it get’s it’s own post.