For a nonprofit or business of any kind, technology is essential. Put simply, technology makes life easier. While the constant changes come with a learning curve, updating and staying current with tech trends can ease the work of a nonprofit.

One of the most prominent tech platforms of 2020 was, and continues to be, Zoom. It offers businesses, organizations, and nonprofits of any size the ability to communicate via video or online chat through cloud-based software. For a nonprofit in the modern world, Zoom is a must.

What is Zoom? How Does it Work?

Although Zoom Video Communications was founded in 2011, the company rose to prominence in 2019 and especially in 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down cities and offices worldwide, businesses, governments, and nonprofits had to find alternative ways to meet and complete work, and this free online communication platform became a popular solution. As a service, Zoom offers a number of options for online communication, including video meetings for up to 100 participants, chat, Zoom Rooms, cloud-based phone systems, and video webinars.

Each communication option meets a different need and serves its own purpose: video meetings essentially act as virtual meetings, rather than in-person, and chat acts as a quick, faceless instant messaging service. However, there are more specific, intricate options like Zoom Rooms. If a business or nonprofit already has an existing conference room, this feature optimizes that room or rooms to be used specifically for online conferences when necessary or preferred. Zoom Rooms also adds a number of features not found in standard Zoom meetings, like the virtual whiteboard, which can be viewed and edited by all meeting participants. Lastly, they offer video webinars that allow for individuals to give in-depth presentations for larger audiences, which can range up to 10,000 view-only attendees.

Getting Started with Zoom

To use Zoom, you start by creating an account. Anyone can create a Zoom account—all you need is an email address. Go to this link to get started: Zoom Sign Up.

Zoom will then send you an email to that address to activate the account. From there, you sign in to their web portal, click “meetings,” click “schedule a meeting,” choose a date and time, and then save. That’s all it takes to start a Zoom meeting. Inviting others is just as easy; all anyone needs is a link to the meeting, which is listed just below the time and meeting ID. Lastly, if any issues arise, the company offers quick, convenient support via the Zoom Help Center.

What to Use Zoom for as a Nonprofit

  1. Remote Work and/or Teamwork: Zoom makes working from home or anywhere outside an office simple and doable. It allows everyone to connect to work together when necessary.
  2. Cloud Phone Systems: Zoom can be used to fill phone needs and works independently from a phone company (by being cloud-based).
  3. Staff and/or Volunteer Training: Through video meetings or even video webinars, Zoom can be used to train staff or volunteers no matter where they are. All they need is an Internet connection.
  4. Hiring: If necessary, Zoom can also be used for hiring. Video meetings are a convenient and quick platform for conducting interviews and meeting with prospective candidates.
  5. Fundraising: Nonprofits need to fundraise, and Zoom can be a way to do some creative fundraising remotely.
  6. Briefings, Group Meetings, Board Meetings: Zoom is most widely recognized as a platform for meetings. One can set up, schedule, and invite up to 100 participants in the free version of Zoom, which can easily accommodate the needs for most nonprofit meetings.

The Benefits of Zoom

  1. Ease of Use and Affordable Plans: One of the reasons Zoom has been so successful – when compared to other, similar services – has been by being easy-to-use and by offering a free plan. Although there are more features on paid plans, the free Zoom plan is simple and free, making it accessible to almost any user.
  2. Seamless Transitions: One of users’ favorite features of Zoom is the ability to mute themselves or turn their camera off during a meeting. Features like these can switch on and off without buffering or causing the meeting to malfunction. They also ensure that everyone is comfortable, and that the participant speaking or presenting can do so uninterrupted.
  3. Zoom Rooms: If a nonprofit has already invested in a virtual conferencing system, Zoom Rooms can be used with this equipment to improve upon the existing setup.
  4. Screen Sharing and Remote Control: With screen sharing, a participant can share any document, image, or presentation that appears on their own screen with those in their Zoom meetings. Participants can also request and be granted remote control access, which allows a participant to control aspects of another participant’s screen. Often, the remote control is used by participants to help troubleshoot when necessary.
  5. Excellent Call and Video Quality: Aside from being known for ease-of-use and affordability, Zoom also offers quality. The audio and video calls are generally gentle on one’s bandwidth and do not require too much from one’s Internet to be used.
  6. The Administrative Dashboard: From an administrative perspective, Zoom offers a number of features. An administrator can view everything going on in a meeting and be given statistics to help find where issues with connection or quality come from.
  7. Intuitive User Experience/Management: As stated, Zoom’s software is easy to use. Everything seems to explain itself and requires little to no training or calls to Tech Support, making meetings and management easier.

Free Plans vs. Paid Plans

Although the basic program is free for any and all users, Zoom also offers paid plans, which each come with additional useful features to enhance the experience.

The Basic Plan (Free)

  1. Host up to 100 participants
  2. Up to 40 minutes per meeting
  3. Unlimited number of meetings

Zoom Pro ($149.90/year/license)

  1. Host up to 100 participants
  2. Host up to 1000 participants with Large Meetings add-on
  3. Up to 30 hours per meeting
  4. Social Media Streaming
  5. 1 GB Cloud Recording (per license)
  6. 9 licenses per account (9 users who can create and run meetings per account)

Zoom Business ($199.90/year/license)

  1. Host up to 300 participants
  2. Host up to 1000 participants with Large Meetings add-on
  3. Single Sign-On
  4. Recording Transcripts
  5. Managed Domains
  6. Company Branding
  7. Social Media Streaming
  8. 1 GB Cloud Recording (per license)
  9. Starts at 10 licenses for $1,999/year

Zoom United Business ($300.00/year/license)

  1. Phone Services and Meetings
  2. Unlimited calling within US & Canada (phone)
  3. Unlimited calling in 18 other countries (with add-on)
  4. Host up to 300 participants
  5. Single Sign-On
  6. Recording Transcripts
  7. Managed Domains
  8. Company Branding
  9. Starts at 10 licenses for $3000/year

Zoom Enterprise ($240/year/license)

  1. Host up to 500 participants
  2. Unlimited Cloud Storage
  3. Dedicated Customer Success Manager
  4. Recording Transcripts
  5. All features included in Zoom Business
  6. Starts at 50 licenses for $12,000/year

Zoom for Nonprofits

In the globally connected and sometimes uncertain world of today, Zoom is a must-have for any business, organization, or especially a nonprofit. Zoom makes working from home—or anywhere—feasible. With its affordability and ease of use, Zoom is a prime solution for any nonprofit looking to do any sort of remote or virtual work, which makes changing the world or even the neighborhood that much easier.

For more tips, tricks, advice, and guides on how to make the most of your nonprofit, see the rest of our articles. Here at Nonprofit Megaphone, our mission is to make your mission a success. If you think that Nonprofit Megaphone’s industry-leading management of the Google Ad Grant could be right for your organization, click here for a free consultation!

By Richard Morris