Six Ways Nonprofits Can Use Skype

Skype is an amazing technology. Anyone who travels regularly or who has long-distance friends and family and uses Skype to keep in touch understands that regular video chats can erase the miles instantaneously. With more than 245 million users worldwide, Skype is connecting families, business communities and the nonprofit sector in ways that are transforming our relationships, our work days and our ability to foster social good in the world. All that said, nonprofits may not be fully aware of how Skype technology works or how extensive its tool set is.

Heather Mansfield from DIOSA Communications and founder of the NonProfitOrgs Blog shares six ways nonprofits can use Skype to improve communications and fundraising.

1) Free one-on-one video chats or calls.

As long as both parties have installed Skype (for desktop, mobile or TV), a nonprofit can make unlimited video calls. For example, Skype can be used for regular check-ins with staff who work remotely, board members or funders. Nonprofits could also use Skype to interview prospective staff or volunteers. Technically, it's worth noting that the video and audio portion of the chats are streamed through the Internet and thus no phone service is required. Attendees will need video cameras and microphones installed on their computers, mobile devices and Internet TVs to enable video chats, however, video is not required for Skype calls. You could simply have a one-on-one conversation via Skype with cameras tuned off.

2) To make inexpensive international calls.

By purchasing Skype Credits, nonprofits can call any phone number (landline or mobile) in the world at extremely low rates. This is transformational for nonprofits and foundations that work in international development. If Internet access is poor in remote areas making the free Skype video chats or calls difficult, using Skype Credits to call mobile phones and landlines directly keeps the lines of communication open which is especially crucial
during times of crisis.

3) To send inexpensive international text messages.

Many nonprofits - particularly those in developing nations - use text messaging as their primary method of communication, however, texting internationally can very expensive for both parties. By using Skype Credits, nonprofits can send text messages at very low rates to one individual or up to 50. In a perfect world,  foundations that make grants internationally would include $250 in funding annually with each grant for Skype Credits and Skype Premium.

4) To host group video meetings.

The free version of Skype enables group calls (no video), but to host group video meetings you must upgrade to Skype Premium. Rates start at $4.99 USD a month and when purchased annually the fees are heavily discounted. Group video meetings can be used for volunteer training, staff meetings, board meetings or to report back to funders. The video service allows up to 10 attendees, while group conference calls with audio only can accommodate up to 25 people. Quite often communications are lacking in the nonprofit sector due to long distances and lack of funding, but Skype Premium is an exceptionally affordable service that can instantaneously improve staff and board relationships and strengthen donor's personal connections to your nonprofit's work and achievements.

5) To present group webinars.

Imagine being able to pitch a foundation for funding from 10,000 miles away. Or share financials and fundraising strategies to board members in real-time no matter where they are located. How about training volunteers on how to be activists for your organization? Skype Premium also enables screen sharing during group video meetings (maximum of 10 attendees).

6) To present tours of your facility to current and prospective funders.

If your nonprofit has a smartphone or tablet, you can easily use Skype to present real-time tours of your office, your facilities and your community. A simple flip of the camera can broadcast live any setting, any picture, any event. You have the technology to transform the way your nonprofit communicates and raises funds literally in the palm of your hand.

Skype makes it easy for your nonprofit to connect with beneficiaries, donors, partners, staff and board members.