Unified Communications for the Charity Sector
The charity and non-profit sector has been significantly affected by the recent economic downturn, with renewed challenges as a result of public sector cuts, including reduced government and public donations and falling investment income. As a result, many charities are under pressure to contain their running costs while meeting an increased demand for their services.
Take control of your running costs:
Choosing a Unified Communications (UC) service is one way that charities can gain control of their running costs while at the same time benefiting from a modern, flexible communications service that can adapt to a range of communication needs. UC offer non-profit companies a lot of choice because services can be layered on top of each other, starting with telephony services and building towards a full suite of UC services depending on the size of the organisation and its target activities. In addition, UC services allow non-profit organisations to create a modern communications network without having to buy or maintain an expensive communications infrastructure.
Retain your IT and telephony networks:
UC services from UC&C allow charity organisations to retain their current IT and telephony networks, without the need to upgrade or buy new equipment. This is possible because Siemens’ UC technology, Unify, operates using OpenScape software, which can be downloaded through a software application or mobile app.
OpenScape software is compatible with any computer operating system and any communications device so Smartphones, tablets and laptops are fully integrated into the more traditional desk phone and desktop environment. With one contact number for each worker, it is easy to communicate with colleagues and external clients. There are no expensive maintenance costs either, because customer support is included as part of the UC service. With previous compatibility issues resolved, workers have the flexibility to bring their own devices to work and teams can focus on the task in hand.
Integrate your services:
One of the main advantages of UC services is that it brings together a range of services in one integrated service provider with one, easy-to-understand monthly tariff. Smaller charities may only need UC telephony services so that they can bring together desktop, data and mobile call packages. They can take advantage of VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) services to access free internal calls within their company and can maximise the value of their communications by pooling minutes and data packages together so that resources are used in the most effective and efficient manner.
For larger non-profits who require one or more Call Centres, UC can provide virtual Call Centres using IP technology. This removes the need for a physical telephony network (such as a PBX) and creates multiple telephone lines using one of the organisation’s existing computer hard drives.
A great advantage of a UC Contact Centre is that hundreds or even thousands of lines can be created according to demand. These are available on a pay-per-use basis, so charities can respond instantly to a surge in demand, while avoiding costs for a service that is not being utilised. This aspect of the UC service saves day to day running costs, but also means that if circumstances require it, the organisation have communications that are scalable and can cope with large fluctuations in demand.
Reduced costs and improved quality for overseas calls:
Charities who work with overseas partners, or that have a number of international offices will benefit from a reliable and secure communications network that includes improved telephone line quality, more reliable internet speeds and the ability to work seamlessly with international colleagues in real time. Unified Communications operates on a single user platform that is simple to use and easy to navigate. The service integrates voice mail, email, instant messaging, texts, voice calls and video conferencing into a single timeline so that workers can access all of their communications in one place. Teams can collaborate on a single project in their timeline, with the ability to see their colleagues’ availability to communicate in real time using presence technology. The single timeline means that teams can instantly share documents, videos, images and ideas instantly, and can come together from different locations to share ideas or edit a document. Everything on the timeline is ordered chronologically, so there is no confusion as to which is the current version of a document. In addition, all of this information is fully searchable, so older information is easy to find.
Great for teams ‘on the go':
Unified Communications allows charities to be flexible employers because UC technology allows workers to work from home, on the go, or from the office. Video conferencing technology is fully integrated into the platform, so it is as easy to chat to a colleague in another country, as it is to talk to the person at the next desk. The full UC service includes functions such as voice recognition software and speech-to-text, so all business conversations and meetings can be recorded as a text file and added to a UC timeline. This means that colleagues who are unable to attend team meetings or video conferences can catch up on important conversations when they are available.
The ability to switch between communications media as appropriate means that colleagues can switch devices as their working commitments change, perhaps expanding a text exchange into a video conference to discuss an important idea, or continuing to contribute to an online meeting by instant messaging when background noise makes voice communication impractical. UC services allow charities to choose the services that suit their needs without compromising on functionality.
Work from anywhere:
In many circumstances UC services can help non-profit organisations to reduce their outgoings in many areas. As well as offering lower rates for a consolidated communications package, UC services can mean that workers no longer need to travel so frequently for meetings. With greater use of flexible working charities may find that they need less office space because hot-desking is possible, reducing running costs and improving the company’s carbon footprint. The flexibility of UC services may be particularly helpful for small charities that operate from smaller premises. The ability to work anywhere means that a formal office may no longer be necessary.
Build stronger connections with supporters:
An expanded capacity for incoming and outgoing voice calls may result in better communications and donor support because CRM software ensures that all incoming calls are answered. Outgoing calls will benefit from instant caller information, enabling agents to address a potential donor by their name and allowing them to see any other information that might be relevant to the call. The UC user platform has integrated social media access, allowing charity teams to maintain relationships with their supports, update them on progress relating to key campaigns or fundraise directly. CRM software can also help to analyse the impact of marketing and fundraising strategies, enabling charities to improve their reach in the future.
Find out more:
There are so many ways that Unified Communications can benefit the charity sector. To find out more, view our dedicated page for the third sector.