Google Brings Churches Back into Nonprofit Program
But Chokshi says it's a listing on Guidestar, not an IRS letter of recognition, that qualifies churches and other nonprofits. In fact, Google says it won't accept copies of IRS letters as proof of nonprofit status from any organization.
Guidestar, which collects tax forms and other data on nonprofits, says it already has entries for 286,000 churches. If accurate, that would be about 90 percent of the country's congregations. (For most houses of worship, the information is limited to the church's name, location, and a note that it is a church.)
While Google has opened up its nonprofit program to churches, several other kinds of nonprofit groups are excluded, including schools, childcare centers, health care organizations, and government entities. However, the company has similar programs for many of those kinds of organizations.
Churches have options beyond Google, said Nick Nicholaou, founder of MBS Inc., a provider of IT and accounting services to churches. For example, Microsoft has its own charity licensing program. Organizations like MBS can also provide services for churches, with the added protection of keeping their information on private servers instead of on public ones, he said.
"Corporations should never trust sensitive information to the public cloud," he said. "Email and a lot of documents that a corporation would have shouldn't be in this realm. They should be in the private side."
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See our earlier coverage of churches and Google for Nonprofits.
In 2006 Christianity Today reported on Jews for Jesus' lawsuit against Google, which later settled out of court.