Video Conferencing for Charities: Useful Usage and Security Tips

With remote working becoming the new normal across the globe, you’ve likely already embraced video conferencing at your charity. 

For many workplaces, it has been a lifesaver when it comes to being in regular contact with your teams and bypassing some of the initial communication inefficiencies that remote working might have posed.  

You might have used it for conducting interviews, one to one catch-ups or even delivering online fundraising events. However, just like any online platform, video conferencing does have its fair share of drawbacks and security issues.  

If you have any concerns around the privacy and security issues of these platforms, the below guidance should offer some tips and reassurance. We’ll focus on Zoom in particular (being the most used platform) but we’ll also cover alternatives such as Microsoft Teams and Google Meet. 

A quick recap of Zoom 

You’re likely familiar with Zoom. It is now one of the most popular video conferencing platforms on the planet. It’s essentially an app that can be accessed via the web or mobile devices that allows you to call and chat with anyone, including video (face to face) meetings. It’s classified as a cloud-based peer-to-peer platform.  

Zoom was originally produced purely for businesses and specifically large corporations who need to manage multiple offices and teams based around the world.  

As the pandemic came into full flow in March 2020, however, the general public took note of the platform too and began to use it for social calls and keeping in touch with friends. 

Take a look at the rise in popularity of Zoom over the past 12 months (according to Google Trends). 

Google graph showing growth in popularity of Zoom

Is Zoom Free For Nonprofits? 

If you’re not currently using Zoom, but are considering it as a platform for your charity, it’s important to be aware of the pricing model before you get started. 

Zoom does have a free account plan which allows you to have a call with one other user for an unlimited time. It’s not great for charities, however, as the free plan has a 40-minute cut off point for calls including any more than two users. This won’t be ideal for hosting any large meetings but you may get away with the free plan if you’re purely checking in with employees on a one-to-one basis. 

The next step up and what’s probably the ideal option for most charities is the £120/year license. You now have access to group meetings with up to 100 people and with all time limits removed. You can also record meetings. For small teams, this is all you’ll ever need. 

If you need to host even larger meetings and events, however, the 100-person limit may not be enough. You can upgrade to 300 participants at £160/year and get some extra features such as the option to add your very own branding to your meetings.  

The pricing options above are standard and there are discounts available for nonprofits, you’ll just need to do some digging to find the latest options. You’ll most likely be able to take advantage of a 10-20% discount. 

remote working and changing recruitment2

Top usage tips 

Zoom is pretty intuitive, that’s why it’s risen in popularity so rapidly, but we’ll cover the basics below to ensure you have a smooth transition to the software. 

Hosting a meeting 

You can schedule regular or one-off meetings by simply selecting ‘schedule’ in the Zoom menu. From there you will need to complete a few fields such as time, duration, meeting description etc. We also recommend automatically muting users upon joining if you are hosting a large meeting. 

Here you can set a password for your meeting room that users will need to enter before they join. This is a useful feature as it ensures only the correct attendees join your meeting. If, however, you need to host a public meeting then you can simply use the waiting room feature which we’ll explain below. 

regular catch ups for mental health

Waiting rooms 

The Zoom waiting room allows you to screen attendees who are trying to access a meeting. When Zoom first launched there were a few security issues and it was far too easy for uninvited guests to access a meeting. Now, all attendees can be held in a waiting room and they will only be sent through to the meeting once you, the host, has given the final sign-off. 

Presenting and recording 

Zoom allows the host to share their screen. This lets you run through presentations, showcase any documents and can be really helpful for training/tutorials. You simply select the ‘share screen’ option and your monitor will be shared with the rest of the group. 

It’s worth noting that screen sharing can be disabled for all other participants or select participants if required. Zoom also allows you to silence any desktop notifications while presenting which will stop any private messages or updates popping up on the screen! 

Select the record button before you present and Zoom will record a copy of the meeting for future reference. If you think you may forget to hit that record button, you can set Zoom to automatically record meetings from the moment they begin. 

Zoom meeting

Breakout rooms 

A relatively new and really useful feature is Zoom’s breakout rooms. This aspect is really handy if you’re hosting large meetings or delivering a training session where attendees need to work together and feedback. 

The host can create up to 50 breakout rooms which is essentially a sub-meeting for the selected attendees. It’s up to the host to assign users to a meeting room and you’re free to move between rooms as you wish. 

Raise hand function 

Now a standard feature, attendees of your meeting can select ‘raise hand’ which will alert the host via an emoji that a user has something to interject. Attendees can also discuss the meeting using the built-in chat function where the host has full control to monitor and restrict if necessary. 

Zoom conversation

Zoom Security And Privacy Tips 

The phenomenon of ‘Zoombombing’ began in 2020 which is when uninvited guests gain access to your meeting and cause disruption. Sometimes this can be unintentional but other times users have entered meetings purely to cause a disturbance.  

Zoom has also had its flaws which most major tech companies run into at one stage or another. Zoom was found to be sharing user data with advertisers without permission (this doesn’t happen anymore) and reported its platform was end-to-end encrypted which turned out to not be the case. 

Here are some Zoom privacy tips that will ensure your meetings run smoothly and safely: 

  • Be careful when sharing your screen, ensure there is no personal data on display that shouldn’t be 
  • Don’t include any personal information in the background of your camera (virtual backgrounds can help here) 
  • Always ensure you have the latest, most up-to-date version of Zoom to avoid security risks posed by old software 
  • Lock your Zoom meeting once all users have joined 
  • Please note that users must connect to a meeting via their computer audio and not via mobile devices for the meeting to remain encrypted 
  • Set a location for your video calls to be saved and ensure the correct people have access to this folder (avoid exposing client or personal data) 
  • Avoid phishing emails that link to Zoom or video conferencing calls 

Zoom Alternatives 

Don’t forget that Zoom isn’t the only option out there. Plenty of other software companies provide video conferencing with their own unique pros and cons. 

Google Meet 

This is a more stripped back and simplified meeting platform from Google. The best thing about Meet is how easy it is to use. You can simply head to right now and create your own meeting. This is a cloud-based platform so there’s no need for any of your attendees to download any apps. 

Google Meet doesn’t have the extra features of a platform like Zoom but it’s ideal for small teams or quick meetings and it syncs directly with your Google calendar which is handy for anyone already using Google’s platform. It’s also free for registered charities.  

charities innovate in time of criss

Microsoft Teams 

If you’re already using Office 365 then Microsoft Teams is worth some extra research. Very similar to Zoom, the video conferencing feature allows you to use waiting rooms, share your screen, record meetings and more. 

This is a great system for larger teams. You have the ability to mute/unmute guests as well as advanced security settings. Teams also creates a space where you can access any shared files post-meeting. This is another tool that’s completely free for registered charities.  

Safety and privacy are paramount 

As its looking like remote working is set to continue in some capacity even in post-pandemic times, it’s worth really taking the time to do the research on the best platform for your charity. To ensure best practice, we would also advise holding some basic privacy and security training. You might consider covering this as part of your induction. Armed with the right knowledge, your colleagues will be able to make the most of your chosen communications platform.  

Tags: charity work, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, remote work, videoconferencing, Zoom

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About the author

Stuart Cooke

Stuart Cooke is the Marketing Manager at Evalian. They’re specialists in data protection and cybersecurity consultancy and training for businesses of all sizes.