The Problem - Google Shared Folders
All those monthly per user fees add up, especially for little volunteer organisation that run on the smell of an oily rag. Google offers some fantastic free tools for online teams, including Drive and Docs. Most small teams end up sharing files and folders with each other, thinking quite naturally, that they are doing the right thing. On the surface, everything looks fine, until you suddenly can't find any of those files that Maria shared last year before she left the team. The longer you use shared folders the more deleted files and orphaned files you are likely to suffer without even knowing that it's happening.
The Solution - Google Shared Drives
Google Shared Drives (formerly Team Drives) is the solution to this. Ownership of every file and folder rests with the drive. It is clean and simple and operates the way many people (mistakenly) assume that Shared Folders operates. If you have an extensive set of Shared Folders then have a read about the migration process before jumping in.
Google Shared Drives comes at a price. You need a Google Workspace (formerly GSuite) Business Standard account - AUD$16.80 per user per month - about AUD$200 per user per year.
If you are a registered charity in Australia you may be eligible for a 75% discount on Google products. But it takes a fair bit of firepower to jump through all the hoops to get charitable status and so it's generally not the little community groups that have the required status.
A Cheaper Alternative
1. Set up a new Google Workspace Account with only a single user (the super admin).
Only one single user - never set up any more users in that account
You will be asked to buy a domain name (e.g. billblogs.com) that will be allocated as the primary domain for this Google Workspace. Choose something short and simple and general that you will never want to actually use for a website. It doesn't really matter what the domain name is because users will generally never even see it. For example, if your current domain is grannies.org.au then you might choose a new domain grannies2.com (as .com domains are often a little less hassle to setup and cheaper).
Make sure you enable 2 Factor Authentication (2 Step Verification). This is a critical security measure.
2. Optional - Set up free Google Groups for different types of users
I prefer to set up free Google Groups rather than doing it within Google Workspace. Free Groups are independent of the Google Workspace account and can continue on, even if the Workspace account is closed. So, you need to setup the Google Groups from within a free Google/Gmail account.
The kinds of Groups you may set up could be things like:
- grannies-admin (a group containing the grannies admin people)
- grannies-volunteers (a group containing all grannies volunteers)
I won't describe the steps involved with setup or populating the Google Groups here as there are plenty of tutorials online.
3. Set your Google Drive App settings
4. Create your individual Google Shared Drives
I think the best way to do this is to think about who needs access to what files and then create each drive so that the whole drive and all its subfolders and files are only accessible to the relevant people. (The settings in Step 3 provide these defaults whenever you create a new Shared Drive). This is much more secure and easier to administer in the long-term as you know that any file placed in a specific drive is only available to those who have been given permission to access that drive.