By Embracing Video Conferencing, Charities Serve Communities and Enlist Volunteers Virtually

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video conferencing by charities

It’s the second half of the phrase ‘charity organization’ that the general public is least interested in. And yet, it’s probably the most important part. Without a cohesive structure and a well-drilled network of volunteers, marketers, accountants, managers, and leaders, even the best intentions amount to little more than an overflowing charity bin.

It takes a lot of skill and perseverance to capture the public’s attention, get them to volunteer their time or money, and then make sure those offerings are directed where they’re needed in an efficient manner.

And so every charity organization—there are more than a million public charities and private foundations in the U.S.—from the largest multinational giant to the smallest neighborhood-based group of activists, can benefit from the way modern business is conducted. And the most advanced of those businesses make full use of the potential of video conferencing.

Video Conferencing Saves Time and Money

Renowned British community activist Karl Wilding believes emerging technologies such as video calling can modernize and empower charity organizations. The Director of Public Policy and Volunteering with the National Council for Volunteering organizations, Britain’s charity umbrella group, is confident video calling can help both the internal and external workings of any charity.

In a recent interview with InformationAge.com, Wilding said video calling could be used to cheaply and easily connect remote field offices, to empower beneficiaries of a charity to tell their stories, and to bring together volunteers in regular online meetings. But there are a few more ways video calling technology can help those in need.

Charity Starts at Work

Businesses have already begun the task of dismantling their dependence on email, and replacing it with more accurate, efficient video conferencing. In fact, a number of companies have banned email within the workplace altogether. That email loathing is due in large part to the fact that the average employee spends around a quarter of their day reading and composing more than 100 emails.

If you’re a charity with limited employee resources, it’s an exciting prospect to be able to free up hours of newfound time for project-specific tasks and get internal communication out of the way via a one-off, real-time video call.

The promise of externally-sourced human resource functions is also pretty exciting. Video calling can streamline the more tedious tasks involved in keeping a workforce afloat by inviting outside contractors to communicate with staff through digital channels, rather than taking up space and time within the office. Then, of course, there is the most advanced way businesses use video calling to organize and empower their employees—telecommuting.

Virtual Staff for a Real Cause

More than a third of U.S. employees have telecommuted for work at least once, and around 10% do so on a regular basis. The ability to work from home reduces the cost of office space, increases the number of potential employees, and can let a business maintain a 24-hour presence, if it knows how to juggle a few different international time zones.

All of those potential dividends would be a boon to a charity group. For the cost of a quality webcam (and those get cheaper by the iteration), and a solid video calling platform subscription, a charity doesn’t need to rent office space at all. Likewise, keeping everyone informed and functioning remotely increases the amount of expert volunteers a charity can engage—any professional who can help out from home or the office is going to have more available time than one who has to make an extra trek into an actual office.

And that’s just the everyday stuff. What if a charity could maintain a presence for those in need of face-to-face support by opening a 24-hour video conferencing booth? Or, it could use emerging video calling ATM technology to provide supplies, food, or medication to those in need at all hours.

And finally, there’s the opportunity to stage fully interactive, large-scale, town hall-style meetings using a single camera pointed at a group of charity leaders. This could simultaneously bring together thousands across a host of locations to coordinate activities, exchange progress and on-ground reports, and give voice to dozens of local groups united in a common cause but separated by distance. Video conferencing today opens up an immense array of possibilities—charities just need to take advantage of them.

Image Source: Flickr CC User Marco

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