Tips for Nonprofits Providing Remote Services
Since 2016 ESC has used and recommends Google Voice to forward calls coming into the organization to staff members' personal phones. This forwarding service is free and includes features like emailed voicemail, text alerts, and personalized phone numbers. Also since 2016, ESC has instituted a policy of, and recommends to nonprofits, a standard monthly stipend to reimburse staff members' mobile phone expenses.
You might be surprised to know that a key factor in how much work you and your colleagues can get done in a day depends on the speed of your internet access. Since 2016, ESC has instituted a policy of, and recommends to nonprofits, that all telecommuting staff receive a stipend to subsidize their internet expenses. Like with the phone stipend, it should be the same monthly rate for all full-time staff members, regardless of their position in the organization.
Select a video and phone conference provider. In 2019, ESC’s Tech Tools Team conducted an extensive review of the current options available. They recommended to our board the purchase of an account with Zoom Video Conference. Since then we’ve used and recommended the service. We appreciate the ability to share selected screens, mute individual or all participants, and for participants to choose to participate only by phone. This allows staff to worry less about their hair and more about their work before a meeting.
For calls with three people use the add a caller button on your smart phone after connecting to the first person. This will allow you to either dial or use your address book to add any caller to your line. You can then hit “merge calls” to speak to all three people at once. It’s great for small group meetings.
It is easy to take the hours you used to commute, read, or meander, and put them towards work. When it comes to mission work, it tends to expand to fill all available space. Remember that if you get an off hours message, unless it’s a phone call from your direct supervisor, assume that it can wait until you are back on hours. A key part of preventing burn out and maintaining the most efficient on hours as possible is avoiding letting all hours become on the clock hours. Emails are like bananas. You have a couple of days to get to them before they turn, so no need to rush out and instantly respond.
For the last decade ESC has used FreeConferenceCall.com for quick free calls. If has glitches which are somewhat minimized by downloading their fee app. Frankly, the primary benefit is the price.
If you will be having frequent remote meetings and have it in your budget then we recommend springing for a video conference service and using your FreeConferenceCall.com number as a backup option.
Many ESC clients are wondering if they should invest in the office and project platform Slack to manage their team and tasks. If your organization has more than 50 full-time staff or 100 total staff including part-time, full-time, and contractors, then we recommend you consider it and other project management service providers. Don’t panic and jump into a contract. The purpose of a budget is to slow things down when they are unexpected. That’s a good thing. It’s important to lock in key stakeholders when unexpected events occur so that more people are able to explain decisions afterward. A good bidding process will include a minimum of three solicited bids and any unsolicited bids to your request for proposals (RFP).
Out of the Box
Research shows that the division of the federal government most trusted by Americans is the United States Postal Service. There’s a reason why, it’s fast, reliable, and inexpensive. If your mail is coming to your physical office or facility you can use the post office’s free Informed Delivery program to email you daily reports of what’s coming in your mail. They’ll send daily photos of the front of your envelopes to your email address. This allows you to see if that long promised donation, grant response, or feared bill is in route to you from anywhere. Your mail can be easily forwarded to any address as well. USPS offers temporary and permanent mail forwarding at the click of a mouse.
An easy solution to have mail shipped and forwarded is a UPS box. They allow you to have a chosen address while working from wherever works for you. ESC’s President and CEO, Rachelle Jervis, used these in a prior role to get donations of everything from checks to 6000 bags of chips! The price of forwarding mail and boxes ranged based on the speed of delivery and that specific UPS Store’s rates. Pick up and mail holds are also available.
Don’t reply all to any email. Don’t do it. It is exclusively for extreme emergency scenarios. Don’t do it with a funny gif, don’t do it with a powerful question. Just don’t do it. Instead we recommend a couple of important cultural relationships to email:
1 If it’s urgent or so complicated it takes more than five sentences then call the person(s) and communicate via phone.
2 If you receive a good question where all recipients might benefit from a response, email everyone a follow up with both the question and the answer.
3 Try to maintain a phone call and text message response period of 24 hours and an email response period of 72 hours. If an email you sent didn’t get a response in that period, it probably went to the person's junk box or otherwise bounced, and you should follow up via phone, text, or USPS.
Join ESC in moving your 2020 spring fundraising events to a virtual format. Convert online tickets to digital ones. Click here to see ESC’s announcement about our annual Celebration of Volunteer Service Luncheon awards being online. add link here
By having your annual fundraiser online, you save the massive expenses of the venue while still being able to offer a unique opportunity for supporters to gather. If you need assistance determining how to take your fundraiser online, speak to your ESC Engagement Manager or get one by completing the form at execservicecorps.org/hire.
While we all avoid crowds, we should not avoid supporting good causes that keep our communities functioning in good times and in bad.
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