Want to forward your office phone to your mobile phone? Want to reduce your nonprofit's phone costs? "Cut the cord" and join us next Wednesday, Feb. 8th at 2pm est. for a webinar covering cloud based phone systems. Below are some questions you might ask yourself if you are considering making the switch.
It's time to think about budgeting for technology - and you need to start somewhere. I checked in with our Director of Technical Services, Linda Widdop, to get her insight to identify the top things to think about when budgeting for technology. Linda's advice is backed up by over a decade of working with nonprofits and technology and she recommends you include in your technology budget:
I’m sure you’ve noticed that it’s getting harder and harder to ignore the Cloud. Google’s recently announced program for Canadian Nonprofits and Charities, which TechSoup Canada is supporting, is an excellent and valuable resource for prudent organizations looking to stretch their IT budget as far as possible. Salesforce is another cloud-based organization that provides special pricing for nonprofits. With world-class tools like this at your disposal, there’s never been a better time for forward-thinking organizations to push the envelope and benefit from these easy-to-use technologies.
Voice over Internet Protocol is a hot-topic amongst small businesses and nonprofit organizations, because it provides greater utility compared to traditional phones at almost half the cost. However, not all organizations take advantage of the feature-rich phones of the future. Of course there is nothing wrong with using a VoIP phone, well, as a phone, but many organizations are unaware of the benefits that come along with using the advanced features.
VoIP is the acronym for Voice over Internet Protocol (uh, what?) Rather than sending calls over the expensive T1 copper infrastructure that connects your phone, VoIP uses your existing Internet connection.
VocalTec offered the first VoIP service, Internet Phone, in 1995. Internet Phone could be installed on PCs, allowing users to make calls from their computer. However, the quality of VoIP in the mid-90s was nothing compared to the quality of today’s PC applications, such as Skype.
Cell phones use VoIP technology. That’s right. Every time you make a call on your cell phone, your voice is being wirelessly transmitted as digital data through your cellular service provider. In fact, cellular service providers used to charge additional fees for calling outside your “network” when cellphones were fairly new or offer free out-of-network calls on weekends as a gimmick.
All you need is access to the Internet. With VoIP, landlines are obsolete, only requiring a reliable WiFi or Ethernet connection.
Phones are not the only device capable of making VoIP calls. Computers, tablets, gaming devices, and even televisions are able to make and receive phone calls using the Internet. For example, Xbox Live, Skype, FaceTime, and video conferencing solutions such as GoToMeeting.
Long-distance phone calls are typically free (or cost significantly less) VoIP uses fewer service providers, significantly decreasing the cost of long-distance phone calls. Normally, when making a transcontinental or transatlantic call, the call is passed from your local phone company to a long-distance phone company using the phone company’s T1 copper infrastructure. With VoIP, calls are passed through your existing Internet service provider as data.
Actually, the entire VoIP phone service is cheaper. With T1 copper wiring hooked up to every office for landline service, maintenance of the infrastructure, though usually fixed, is still an added cost to your bill. In fact, most organizations won’t need the copper lines after switching to VoIP. Traditional phones also include the added expense of paying the local and long-distance phone companies for their services.
Approximately 79% of U.S. businesses use VoIP. According to In-Stat, a market-research company, this usage increased from only 37% of U.S. businesses using VoIP phone service five years ago.
Keep your original phone number Phone number portability is a standard feature that comes with switching your phone service. For organizations, the ability to keep the same phone number(s) is vital to daily business because it reduces confusion for those who contact your nonprofit regularly. In addition, retaining the same number saves time and money when it comes to updating public listings of the number, including printed marketing materials and tracking down independent online listings outside or your organization’s website.
VoIP is packed with features traditional phones lack. Can your traditional telephone transcribe a voicemail and email it to you? We didn’t think so. Thanks to the Internet, VoIP phones can perform many additional functions that make it easier to stay connected while on-the-go. For instance, you can create a call forwarding list that will direct calls from your office phone to your cell phone, or try another number on your list in an attempt to find you until you answer one of the phones. VoIP also enables you to create calling trees, set hold music or messages, program an auto-attendant, and track call data for reports, among other features.
You can stay connected to your office phone no matter what. Staying connected is vital to any business, including nonprofits. Even when your Internet connection is down or the power goes out, VoIP is able to route the calls from your office phone to your cell phone or another number. This also means that you can forward your calls from your office phone to another number and receive your calls anywhere!