Ken Goldstein, MPPA

Ken Goldstein has been working in nonprofits and local government agencies from Santa Cruz, to Sacramento, and back to Silicon Valley, since 1989. He's been staff, volunteer, board member, executive director, and, since 2003, a consultant to local nonprofit organizations. For more on Ken's background, click here. If you are interested in retaining Ken's services, you may contact him at ken at

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Google Spreadsheets

The other day, I posted here about a collaborative writing tool called "writeboard." Today, I want to continue on the track of online collaborative software, and tell you about Google Spreadsheets.

I have to confess that I'm a bit of an Excel geek. I don't know why, but I love spreadsheets. Google is on the road of eliminating Excel from life.

Google Spreadsheets look and behave like an Excel spreadsheet in almost every aspect. You can upload documents that you've previously created in Excel, or create a new document online. The "Format," "Sort," and "Formula" tabs do the work of several of Excel's menus. About the only thing missing is the ability to draw borders.

Small spreadsheets opened quickly and are respond well to your input. I did slow the application down a bit by uploading a very large document with 14 sheets to it. Other than that, it passed every test I through at it.

To collaborate, just click the "share" link and enter the email address of your co-worker. The only catch is that they need to have a (free) Google account too.

Getting your board to work together on budgeting or reviewing monthly financial statements has never been easier. No more excuses of lost attachments, just go to the web site and click away!

The incredibly good news is that Google Spreadsheets are free to use. The "bad" news (just a minor inconvenience) is that you need to already be signed up for another free Google service, such as gMail, to gain access.

If you'd like to test this out, but don't have a Google account yet, let me know (email link under "About Me" to the top left) and I'll send you an invitation to join gMail and to play with one of my test spreadsheets.


  1. I'm writing about webapplications on my blog. Just wanted to let you know that Google has added some new features to their Google Spreadsheets application. See my blog for more details.

  2. Just heard from a colleague that a rep from DonorsChoose spoke to their organization and told them that, in order for teachers from a multi-state area of which they are a part to participate in the program, 'someone' needs to provide a million in start-up costs for paying the salaries of just a few people and for running an office to oversee the program. Is this typical of a nonprofit organization, particularly one that already seems to have existing offices? What kind of salaries do 'nonprofit' employees make each year and what is considered reasonable? Are these start-up costs calculated in the overall percentages when a charity is evaluated on the basis of how much of their receipts actually get into the hands of the intended recipients? What resource would you recommend for those seeking to get a more definitive picture of charities before commiting money and donated manpower? Thanks