Monday, November 15, 2010

Videoconferencing for Nonprofits

You've thought about it and whether or not it could work for your nonprofit...video conferencing replacing in-person meetings.  How can you properly convey important information when you aren't in the room?  Video conferencing has come a long way in the last few years as broadband has been deployed.  And if you're not videoconferencing at least some meetings, maybe now is the time to take a serious look at its advantages (economic and social) and whether a video conference model is right for you.  Bunnie

Video Conferencing for Nonprofits
by Arron Brown, Editor of Lifesize.com


The downturn in the economy is very much upon us, small, medium and large nonprofits continue to struggle during these drawn-out and daunting times. Nonprofits have struggled particularly, and have come up against their toughest challenges yet. The constant need to tighten budgets and employees has become standard practice within many nonprofits. With nationwide cuts and reduced public activity, many nonprofits have had to act swiftly to ensure that their organizations can carry on with their day-to-day duties as normal.

Many organizations within the nonprofit sector are likely to have their offices spread across Europe and in some cases, the globe. Due to funding and budgets being cut, due to the economic downturn, nonprofits have found it increasingly difficult to travel to their other sectors for important meetings and conferences. However, due to the recent introduction of web based onferencing software this allows the nonprofit to effectively connect with members and donors anywhere in the world, using the internet. This allows them to significantly save on large travel fees, whilst being able to speak to key members of their organization. There are numerous advantages to a non-profit organization when using web based video conferencing, some of which are as follows;

- Cater to the unique needs of staff members; allow staff to be more productive, by being able to work remotely or collaborate with other staff members

- Keep volunteers updated; Train and organize volunteers upon upcoming issues and events within the organization.

- Brief the community; Allow society members to be regularly updated with company news and broadcasts.

While video conferencing is still the most expensive of all electronic conferencing options, costs have decreased substantially since the beginning of the 21st century. This has made it possible for non-profit organizations to use this communication resource more frequently, and still remain within their budgets. This includes the cost of video conferencing equipment, site certifications at conference room sites, and the conference fees that apply during a live conference. In the years to come, more innovations in electronic communications will likely reduce the cost even further, making this resource even more cost efficient for organizations of all types and sizes.

By incorporating video conferencing within a nonprofit organization, they can be rest-assured that their costs will be significantly reduced, not only this but, productivity within the organization will be much more effective. Neighboring communities and societies will also feel much less pressure without the need of travelling hundreds of miles for important meetings and discussions.

13 comments:

  1. It's amazing what tech is out there to stretch our budgets and help us all be more efficient. In many cases a simple Skype connection will do the trick - free and easy!

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  2. Great subject. With so many small nonprofits not even having a fixed location, leveraging technology is more important that ever.

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  3. You covered some great points. Thanks for the info!

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  4. Using this technology for B2B applications is becoming common. I would recommend a face-to-face meeting to start the working relationship and then continue with technology like videoconferencing.

    You mention using it with volunteers and I would be very cautious with this. There are still many people who have difficulty working with email and other technology much easier to use than videoconferencing. Make sure you know the capabilities of each volunteer and make sure they have the equipment and technical know-how to use the video conferencing capability adequately. Otherwise, you will start losing volunteers instead of encouraging them.

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  5. Good advice to help nonprofits adopt the technology. I have seen great things happen when people start using tech solutions - including reaching people and places that would have been cost prohibitive.

    I want to encourage nonprofits to see technology as a way to foster a relationship even if it is impossible for a face-to-face to occur first. I do understand Roger's caution and he's correct, video conferencing won't work for every organization or situation, but glad to see this "how to".

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  6. Setting up these video conferences are cost-effective, in a way. Why? Because the other side won't have to waste gas and money to go to where you're setting the live meeting up. Before, we were using our meeting space as the rally point of all the executives from all of our branches. Now, we're setting up video conferences in that same meeting space. Washington D.C. is the nation's capital, but to be honest, it's not really near to everyone.

    Since the day that we've implemented the video conference meetings, the nearest office space, Fairfax, has been very happy since they don't have to drive to the capital just to attend a short but urgent meeting.

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  7. Our meetings were always held in our office space in Charlotte, NC. Whenever we have a major meeting (some of which are short but detailed), the representatives from the other branches are called to meet in the Charlotte branch, no matter how far their branch is. I've suggested these video conference things to my boss, and he's been quite amused by the possible cuts in costs when these will be implemented. Whenever they'll start setting up the video conference thing in the office, Charlotte, NC branch's meeting space can be used as an additional space for file cabinets or for possible office expansion.

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  8. Video conferencing software can take you anywhere you want to go Whether you want to have a private business conversation, a committee meeting, a sales meeting or personal chat, web video conferencing can get you connected around the country, and around the world.

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  9. Good post indeed. This is something I would like to integrate in our nonprofit software!

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  10. Video conferencing connects individuals in real time through audio and video communication over a Low broadband network, enabling visual meetings and collaboration with digital documents and shared presentations. In the early days, participants used to connect in central meeting rooms with video conference hardware and now, the new technologies allow participants to connect remotely over a network through multiple devices like laptops, desktops, smart phones and tablets.

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  11. Great article. Video conferencing is an excellent way to keep costs down and connect people across your organization. I work in NH Video Production and we work with a lot of non-profits and other organizations to get them up and running with video capabilities in the office. We just finished a great project with Home Instead Senior Care, who offers assisted living in Concord NH and the surrounding area. Their office is now able to connect directly with their caregivers in the field with video conferencing capabilities.


    - J.O.

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