Using Google products for a Probus Club

Here's what I've done for our club:

  1. Bought the domain name We wanted something which would be relatively easy for people to remember/spell! Certainly in the UK, buying a domain name (note: no hosting!) is very cheap.
  2. Set up a Gmail account ( I could have used my own email address, but wanted something which would continue if I moved away. You'll notice that the email address isn't the same as our domain name! That was only because at some point in the dim and distant past, a past president (presumably) had used - but we couldn't find out who!

Now that we had these two essentials in place, we've done the following:

  1. Created a website. Not surprisingly, we're using Google Sites ( for this. Although I fully accept that Sites doesn't have all the bells and whistles of WordPress, it's really easy to use, so it's very quick to add/change information.You can create multiple Google Sites which are private until you make them public, so you can play around with different themes until you're happy.The 'trouble' with Google Sites addresses is that they're quite long, so there's more of a chance of people misspelling the 'raw' Sites address - hence why visitors can use the address instead of Note: whoever you use to buy your domain name (if you go down that route) will have somewhere you can go to to maintain things about your domain. In our case, I use and when I log in, I'm able to change what happens when someone visits We can also set up mail forwarding, that when someone sends an email to, it is automatically sent to Tim’s personal email address. As/when people move on, it’s easy for me to just update the forwarding address(es).
  2. Created some mailing lists. When I first joined the club, everyone on the committee had their own list of members (which is always going to be wrong!), we use 3 mailing lists (all hosted by Google -
  1. Probus committee. A mailing list which our committee members can use. Any email sent to the mailing list is automatically sent to all the committee members, and any committee member can send to it.
  2. Probus members. This is a list which includes all the members; however, the only people who can send to the list are members of the committee.
  3. Probus trips. Ron organises some great trips for us, and uses this to let people know about upcoming trips. Not everyone in the club is interested in trips, so this includes a subset of members, as well as some ‘external’ people also.

    The advantages of this approach are: we used to have lots of “OK - thanks” emails which were sent to everyone; the mailing list keeps the members’ email addresses private; if a member replies to an email, it is only sent to the person who originally sent the email - not to all the members.
  1. Used Google Docs, Sheets & Forms. I very seldom use MS Office; instead, I find that I can do everything I need in the Google equivalents ( The great thing about these tools is that you can share them with other people - so, for example, before we publish something, the committee could edit / comment on the document. I think my favourite use of the technology has been making our Vice-President’s life easier! The VP typically arranges our Summer Buffet and President’s Dinner, and that used to be a very manual process of handing out pieces of paper and then collating everyone’s input. Nowadays we use a Google Form ( which then records who’s coming, how many tickets they’d like, what they want to eat, etc. This information feeds into a Google Sheet, so the VP can see who’s responded (and who’s not!), and is able to inform the venue of numbers and meal requirements.
    Another advantage of the Google ecosystem is that you can easily embed documents into Sites. If you go to, what you’re seeing is actually a Google doc. It saves me having to work out how to do something similar in raw html!
    We use
    Google Drive to store photos and documents, some of which are private (only available to the committee members), and some are public (e.g. photos and trip reports), which are linked to the website.

- Patrick Whittick