The Essential Google Tools Every Nonprofit Communicator Should Know

Maps, trends, custom logos: Five easy Google tools to help journalists, #nonprofit marketers + communicators tell more powerful stories, save time – or just feel like a true tech guru Tweet This

Share this article Tweet about this on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Email this to someone

At the end of a productive work day, I go to bed believing that I am on top of the world with my tech knowledge.

And then I wake up the next day to discover that an abundance of new tools were developed overnight, and the shortcuts that I am used to are actually long road trips now.

Melissa Harris from M. Harris & Co. and Mike Reilley, an SPJ digital trainer with Google Tools, recently held a training session to teach a select few Chicago marketers and journalists some easy, quick—and free!—resources to help us soar through our daily tasks.

1. Google Trends should be required reading for all of us storytellers. It provides a look at the latest trend data: for example, if you are working on an event and want to see how many people are inquiring about that event in your city or state, you can easily pull up a map to find out. It’s a great way to see if your email blasts, news articles or social posts trigger more discussion, then use your knowledge about what’s working to enhance the buzz.

2. Google Scholar lets users search for articles in academic journals—so depending on your field, it can be a great place to find citations for your work, or to get your work seen and cited by others! If you contribute articles to scholarly journals, you should definitely create an account with your contact information and image. This will help promote your work as users find and reference it. A profile with contact information also gives users the opportunity to reach out to you directly. If I searched for an article and found that I had a choice between paying the fee to download it from the journal, or contacting the author directly, I’d reach out—the author might send it to me free of charge. And once we’ve established that contact, I just might reach out to them again as my go-to subject matter expert in future.

3. Google Reverse Image Search is a great way to fact-check an image you find—identifying the source, and making sure it tells the story you want to tell. But beyond that, as a content creator, you can (and should) go to and look up your original images to see if anyone is using one in a campaign that you are not aware of—important for security, for media monitoring and for reputation management. is another great resource for reverse image searches.

4. MyMaps is a great tool for creating maps to illustrate your stories, or direct people to your events. This service allows you to add lines, points and icons as way-finders, customizing a Google map for any purpose.

5. AutoDraw lets you quickly design an icon or logo, which you can download as a .png file. With this tool, you don’t need to worry about the rights to the image because it was designed and drawn by you (learn more about rights and permissions for any Google products or tools at

Hope these tools save you time and empower you as a true tech guru!