This blog will discuss the most common form of technology – VoIP or Voice over Internet Protocol – and the positive impact it can have on your charity, especially if you’re exploring hybrid working strategies for your team!
So, let’s start with the basics…
What is VoIP?
Voice over Internet Protocol is a system that enables you to bin your old landline phones while ensuring you stay connected to your fundraisers and service users, by using your internet connection instead.
VoIP allows all your charity’s devices – from laptops to mobiles, desktops to tablets – to make and take calls just like your existing deskphones!
And with mobiles, your teams can keep using their work numbers, not having to use their personal numbers – so they can always be reachable, if need be!
Older landlines systems – like the ISDN and PSTN networks – send your data as analogue signals, which means they’re at risk of signal degradation and static, while VoIP services are digital. This means your audio signal is sent as 1s and 0s, which means your signal not only gets to the other end faster, but it’s also far clearer!
Furthermore, those analogue networks we mentioned above are no longer fit for purpose. As the decades have come and gone, landlines have been useful services for everyone, but replacement parts are incredibly rare and expensive, and experienced engineers are just as hard to come by!
All of this means these networks have been ear-marked for closure, and will be by 2025, as per Openreach and BT’s plans to transition the UK to a fibre-based infrastructure.
And the knock-on effect to your charity is that if you don’t upgrade to some form of internet-based communication like VoIP before December 2025, you risk your phonelines going silent permanently!
Pros of VoIP
Eliminate expensive line rentals and hardware from your IT stack.
A digital audio signal means calls sound far better.
Auto-attendants, call recording, and call queues all make day-to-day life easier.
Use your phone wherever you want, which is great for commuters and admins (and medical staff, in situations where they don’t want to risk infection).
Call anyone worldwide
International long-distance rates are much lower than landline equivalents, which is especially important for charities that support developing countries!
Cons of VoIP
You need a reliable internet connection
VoIP needs a low-latency connection; at least 100 kbps (0.1 Mbps) per phone line, which means a fibre-based connection is essential.
Emergency services limitations
As Voice over IP systems require an internet connection, getting through to 999 in a no-signal area is a challenge, or even finding your location if you can get through.
Makes deskphones obsolete
Because Voice over IP uses new technology, your old deskphones won’t work. Obviously BYOd is a great opportunity here, but make sure you sell-on your previous deskphones ASAP, as their resale value will fall even more in the next two years!
VoIP solves hybrid working challenges
VoIP enables you to do more than simply take calls from anywhere. It allows you to completely re-think how your business runs and optimise your entire organisation through some form of hybrid working.
Front-line service staff and fundraisers can stay on top of workloads while on the road or at home, using portable devices such as cellular tablets, and office teams can choose how they contact colleagues – audio, video, conferencing and more – all form one system to make things super easy and quick!
Many VoIP platforms also include basic security features like end-to-end encryption and multi-factor authentication, so ensure only the people that should be connecting to your systems do. As well as reporting functionality so you can keep on top of team performance – from call length, to wait times and many more!
As we touched upon, VoIP enables staff and volunteers to take calls on whichever device they prefer, but there are plenty of other reasons to embrace VoIP, especially these four ‘-abilities’:
The term ‘upgrading’ usually conjures up the thought of extra expense, but many charities could actually SAVE MONEY by upgrading to a VoIP-based service.
For most, existing internet connections will be adequate to take voice traffic as well (as long as there aren’t hundreds of users in a central office). And with lines priced per person per month (and many under £10) it’s far easier to manage and budget, let alone pay for.
Plus, you get a lot more functionality than the landline, that could only make or take calls from one fixed place!
As we mentioned, having your voice signals sent digitally, rather than over analogue lines, improves audio quality, reduces static and providers an overall better experience for callers.
Furthermore, the most popular VoIP services include multiple failovers, so that if there’s an issue at one of their datacentres, your phone calls still go through as normal.
With your team splitting time between the office and home, you could explore downsizing your estate to save money on leases and utilities, freeing up resource for your community services, which in turn enables you to run an even leaner, more optimised operation.
More than half (53%) are thinking about downsizing their main place of work in response to the rise of homeworking, which increases to 61% amongst businesses with more than 20 employees!
VoIP’s focus on usability and convenience also means that many services offer the ability to add or remove lines in a couple of minutes, meaning seasonal surges are easy to manage, and ex-employees can be removed from systems as soon as is necessary.
Furthermore, if your charity grows and needs to expand into a new site, you can open new sites or offices with a few clicks and no need for expensive and time-consuming hardware and cabling installations, as long as the site has a decent connection and Wi-Fi!
All told, A VoIP-based system has a whole range of benefits that allow charities to offer a better service to their communities. Here’s how…
Why do charities need VoIP?
In a nutshell – to keep up with the times!
The pandemic only accelerated a step-change that was already changing how private and public operations work and communicate.
Considering that many of the largest corporations in the world already operate some form of hybrid working, it’s only a matter of time before we’re all working in a more flexible way – and that means VoIP is a must-have for any charity wanting to stay effective in our new digital world!
Staff and volunteers can enjoy a better work/life balance, choosing which days they work from home and which from the office, meaning they can deal with poorly children, medical appointments and the dreaded sign-for deliveries with less stress and hassle.
That extra positivity is bound to spread to their work as well, taking calls with more cheer and for fundraisers, that could have a tangible knock-on effect on revenue! And with fundraising becoming such a struggle over the last couple of years – any realistic chance of increasing available budgets should be given the appropriate consideration.
85% of TalkTalk’s respondents in a survey at the start of lockdown, confirmed their work/life balance improved, or was the same, in the [first] 3 months [of lockdown].
And while we’re on the subject of budgets, a combination of hybrid working and VoIP can help you significantly reduce costs, opening up even more resource for your communities that need it the most!
All your existing hardware such as deskphones and PBX servers could be sold-on or repurposed in the case of some servers, enabling you to operate a leaner more streamlined organisation that isn’t limited to a particular building.
Combined, these two major benefits merge into an even greater one. The ability to improve the services you offer to your community. Extra budget could mean more service staff, or higher quality services that were previously too expensive to explore.
No matter your charity’s mission, a VoIP-based flexible working strategy can genuinely impact every person you’re looking to help!
So, if you’re looking to adopt flexible working long-term, but need a helping hand along your journey, together we can explore this world of future-proof technology to find a solution that fits your budget and specific needs.
Call us on 0330 0940 170 or contact our team to learn more – or download our new hybrid working E-book to get all the information and stats you need in one place!