Chapters need a way to share files, meeting minutes, agendas, graphics and often end-up using web storage like Google or Microsoft. They also need a way to restrict who has access and easily remove and add access for members without it becoming cumbersome. This guide has a solution using Google Groups and a dedicated Google email account that is completely free, and implements Role Based Access Control, a key information security principle which dictates access based on someone’s role in their local DSA chapter or National Committee.


DSA Chapter will have a free and easy to use and setup role based access via a simple and familiar platform. A group e-mail and google drive structure to manage information.

  1. Setup
  2. Pre-Planning
    1. Decide on what the name of your group e-mail will be.
    2. Consider what roles exist in your group/organization. For instance your steering/organizing/leadership committee and general membership. This will determine how many google groups you make. It is recommended you start small even with just the two groups above and only make groups as needed. Name these similar to your group e-mail with the name of the role(or sub-group) first.
    3. Google Groups can also be used as group e-mail addresses and e-mail listservs that can be used for group communication. Consider if you want to use this feature or not it can be turned on and off at any time! 
  3. Making the Setup (total time ~30 minutes)
    1. Make a Gmail account and give members who will be checking it or making the drive folders access. Make sure you set up account recovery information once made. Write down your password or store it in an offline document or password manager if you have one.*
    2. Logged into the Gmail account you just made. Go to and hit create group. Feel free to follow this guide through ‘Create A Group’. We will start with your leadership/steering committee group.
    3. There will be another section/guide on using Google Groups as shared e-mail inboxes for now this will focus on making use of it to grant and revoke access to Google Drive folders. 
    4. On the left side of your screen you will see People click this tab.
    5. At the top of your screen you will see ‘Add Members’ click this
    6. In the pop up window hit directly add members
    7. The Gmail that made the group will automatically be made an owner. You can copy and paste an e-mail list into any of the three fields (Members, Owners, Managers). These groups determine how much someone can manage the google group!
      1.  For Steering Committees and non-general membership groups/committees consider making all members group managers to ease the ability to add or remove members without having to log into the group Gmail account. Determine what security works best for your situation but don’t forget ease of use!
      2. Feel free to type a message letting people know they have been added.
      3. NOTE: Google places a limit of 200 new email addresses in a 24 hour period day to get added to a Google Group. For larger chapters, you will need to split your membership lists up to several days.
    8. Click Add members 
    9. Now repeat this process (Steps 2 – 8) for the general membership group but only put members in as Group Members. Consider the same again for Group Managers to ease the ability to add members to the Google Groups. Make sure everyone including the people from the leadership/steering group is added to this group!
      • Note for small or flat groups you can get away with just one group and skip this part.
    10. After making the general membership group there is one setting we need to change specific to the general membership group before we go into setting up a google drive folder.
      1. Click Membership Privacy
      2. For larger groups or spaces where privacy is important please make sure you select group managers only for the following two options as Group Managers or Owner.
    11. Now this is where we can decide if we want to allow people to send e-mails to the group like a listserv. You may want to turn this off for general groups and use your regular newsletter or listserv system.
      1. Click “General” under Settings
      2. If you want to let members e-mail each other and let people not in the group e-mail the group use these settings
        1. If you don’t want to allow non-group members to e-mail select ‘Group Members’ under who can post.
      3. If you want to not allow e-mails to the group change this setting to Group Managers or Group Owners.
  4. Setting up the Google Drive
    1. Note that whether or not you use paid Google Workspace Shared Drives or regular Google Drives this is still useful to easily manage permissions. As you will still have individual users who can have varying access to specific files.
    2. Go to Google Drive with the organization gmail account.
    3. Make a folder(s) as needed in the google drive and name them appropriately.
      1. Ex: DSA Steering Committee Files
      2. Ex: DSA General Files
    4. Right click the folder(s) and hit share
    5. On the share popup type in the name of the google group you made before.
    6. Grant the access needed and hit done!
    7. Now just make files inside of these folders where your main Gmail account is the owner and the appropriate google group has the access you want them to have. You add and remove people from one place instead of trying to manage a bunch of files and different ownership.  
  5. If you already have Google files
    1. If you already have Google Drive folders or files on this same screen have the person who owns the file ‘transfer ownership’ to the organization’s Gmail account.
      1. After giving the organization’s Gmail access. Click the down arrow next to the editor label.
  6. Other Uses for Google Groups
    1. As mentioned they can be used for e-mailing a group together or allowing someone to e-mail a group of people as one. 
    2. You can also use them to easily invite people to a calendar just type in the group name and it will send the invite to all of the people you want just like the files.