Nearly a year after Google introduced its nonprofit program that excluded churches, the company quietly modified its eligibility guidelines to allow them back in.
Google for Nonprofits offered free and discounted packages of some of the company's premium tools for charitable organizations. But guidelines excluded numerous groups, including schools, political think tanks, churches, proselytizing groups, and any group that considers religion or sexual orientation in hiring decisions. (Christianity Today reported on the change last August.)
In February, Google modified its guidelines again to include several groups previously excluded from the program, including places or institutions of worship and programs that require membership or provide benefit only to members.
While many of Google's products are free to users and supported by advertising, Google for Nonprofits gives charities breaks on several products it charges for, including Google Apps (its competitor to Microsoft Office) and free advertising in its AdWords program. It is also rolling out some services first to its nonprofit members. Last week the company said it would first offer live streaming video on YouTube to its nonprofit members.
"We're constantly evaluating our services," said Google spokesman Parag Chokshi. "Since launching Google for Nonprofits as a consolidated offering last year, we've received feedback from many organizations and believe this change will allow us to help more organizations take advantage of Google services."
Tim Postuma, web manager for the Christian Reformed Church in North America, said the change was unexpected but welcome.
"There was a lot of disappointment when they excluded places of worship," he said. "From what I saw when they ...