Nonprofit board meeting

Tips for a Productive Virtual Nonprofit Board Meeting

Nonprofit board meetings present opportunities for high-level decision makers to discuss important issues that impact the communities their organizations serve. With most nonprofits adopting social distancing measures in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of these meetings are now held in virtual settings. 

Unlike in-person gatherings, video conferencing poses new potential obstacles. For example, call quality does not play a role if all participants were together in the same room. Instead of shaking hands and gathering around the table, everyone is gathering at their screens and waving at the camera. 

When your board holds a remote meeting to make critical decisions, streamlining unified communications can supercharge their productivity and create a more engaged discussion environment. Conversely, if poor call quality interrupts your meeting, participants will be more distracted by the constant technical errors instead of focusing on the topics at hand. In some cases, these unintended downsides of virtual gatherings can cause meetings to end prematurely. 

To address call quality issues in virtual settings, many nonprofits have turned to Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunking as the solution for better-unified communication infrastructure. SIP.US trunks are leveraged over a dedicated network that offers direct endpoint-to-endpoint connection with voice quality as-good or better than landlines for a fraction of the price and more flexibility. With a SIP trunk, you can access digital voice services from anywhere without most of the traditional long-distance expenses associated with telecom providers. 

SIP Trunking is Essential for Nonprofits 

Beyond a meeting scenario, SIP trunking allows nonprofit workers and volunteers to reach colleagues quickly through a secure connection. However, the benefits also exceed voice clarity and call quality. These include, but are not limited to: 

Scalable Pricing that Matches Your Budget

Because many nonprofits rely on private donations as well as public funding, managing a budget can make or break the organization’s success. The higher cost of traditional telecommunications services cuts against optimizing each dollar. 

SIP trunking allows your organization to do away with physical telephone lines (PRIs) as well as their long-distance upcharges and long-term contracts. Most SIP trunks also allow nonprofits to make long-distance calls in the United States without cost-per-minute charges. 

Unlike traditional telecommunications providers that usually sell bundles of PRI lines, SIP.US allows our customers to pay only for the number of channels they need. For example, if a telecom company only offers packages of 21 lines and you need 22, they often make you pay for 42. 

With SIP trunking, you can scale up or scale down your phone services alongside your other operations. If you only need 22 channels, you pay per-channel and can add or subtract as needed to match your organization’s needs. On average, many nonprofits can save up 50% on their telecommunications expenses when they make the switch thanks to predictable, itemized pricing. 

Improved Network Management 

Whenever your organization uses non-unified communications solutions, you are paying for multiple networks. Instead, SIP trunking combines voice and data into a single network that creates a direct line between endpoints for crisp voice quality and frictionless connectivity. 

Frictionless Disaster Response 

Disasters happen, and oftentimes, nonprofits are called on to respond to their communities. In these situations, maintaining communication with your staff is more important than ever. For example, if your office loses power, our SIP solutions can redirect calls to other endpoints like other office locations, mobile phones, home landlines, laptops, tablets, and more. 

Because we are using our redundant data centers to manage your network, you do not have to worry about connectivity issues as long as you can still access the internet from your location. This gives you peace of mind whether you’re working at home or in the field providing real-time care and service to those in your community. 

How SIP Trunks Create Better Nonprofit Board Meetings

Beyond application-specific benefits, SIP trunking can provide value to nonprofit boards that are holding virtual meetings. Here, call quality and voice clarity play impactful roles. 

Here are some tips to create a better environment for virtual nonprofit board meetings: 

Use a Unified Communications Network

If you are not hosting a meeting with a unified communications solution like a SIP trunk, your participants are calling in using network connections of varying quality. For example, one person might have perfect voice and video clarity while another’s camera is frozen and their audio is lagging. 

When call quality is distracting people from the meeting agenda, this can derail productivity. Nobody wants to waste precious minutes of the workday waiting for someone to log out, log back in, switch devices, etc. throughout a meeting where participants are discussing important topics at hand. 

In these situations, drops in call quality, lagging, and other clarity issues are often attributed to packet loss. When communicating over a digital solution like a Voiceover Internet Protocol (VoIP) service, your audio and video data is compressed into what are called “packets” that are then delivered to the other participants on the video call. When part of your message never arrives at the endpoint or it lags, arrives out of order, etc., that is called “packet loss” because the compressed data either did not arrive at the endpoint or did so in an incorrect order. 

SIP trunking technology can unify your organization’s telecommunications infrastructure and extend it to a dedicated digital network. This allows for direct endpoint-to-endpoint connections – thus drastically reducing the likelihood of packet loss. Rather than distracting your board meeting participants with drops in call quality, everyone can benefit from secure connections where everyone can discuss relevant topics with greater focus and engagement. 

Plan Ahead with Your Participants

If you are the one hosting your nonprofit board meeting, create a clear agenda that outlines the topics you will be discussing. Send the agenda to all participants at least a few hours in advance. Ask them if there’s anything else that should be included in the agenda before attending the meeting.

If you have to make any adjustments to your agenda, distribute the updated version to your participants before the meeting starts so that everyone will be aware of any new information that will be discussed. 

Provide Instructions for Joining

Ensure that all your participants know how to join the conference call. These days, most virtual meeting services offer solutions to streamline this process. Whether they automatically send a sign-in link to each person’s inbox, integrate with digital calendars, or some other method, this should not be an issue for most meeting hosts. 

However, this is not always the case. Sometimes, a digital meeting solution may require participants to enter a verification code or pin number to join. In this case, if it is not automatically sent to participants, be sure that each person has that access code. Once everyone has received instructions for joining, this will allow the meeting to start on-time and for the host to dive right into the important topics. 

Make Everyone Feel Welcome 

In-person meetings before COVID-19 allowed people to see each other, shake hands, and be aware of who was in the room with them. With more people having board meetings in home offices or other remote locations now, introducing participants should be the starting point for any virtual gathering. 

Meeting hosts should encourage all participants to attend virtual meetings with both their cameras and microphones turned on so that everyone can see and hear each other. Though this does not recreate the social atmosphere of an in-person boardroom, it is the next-best option with social distancing considered. 

Mute Your Microphone Unless It’s Your Turn 

Do not keep your microphone on unless you are speaking. If you leave your microphone on, this can cause background noise that can distract others from the person who is supposed to be talking at that point in time. 

Finish with an Action Plan 

When you’ve wrapped up your nonprofit board meeting, be sure to recap all key discussion points and provide an action plan for the next steps. This way, people will leave the meeting feeling productive and with a sense of direction. 

Follow Up Afterwards

A short while after your meeting has ended, send participants an email thanking them for their time and for contributing to the discussion. Be sure to include a brief written recap of the meeting highlighting key points and reiterating the next steps going forward. This will ensure everyone will have a common reference point as they continue working. 

Start Having More Productive Nonprofit Board Meetings Today

A clear agenda, code of conduct, and action plan are essential ingredients to any successful meeting, but they can become secondary if interrupted by subpar call quality. That’s where SIP trunking comes in. 

By connecting endpoints through a dedicated digital network, SIP trunking ensures better call quality performance, minimized chances of packet loss, and allows your team to make any place or space their meeting room. 

Want to improve the quality of your next nonprofit board meeting with SIP trunking? Contact us anytime to discuss your needs. 

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