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Virtual Meeting Options

  • Tuesday, May 05, 2020 9:49 AM
    Message # 8948172
    Philanos Admin (Administrator)

    Posted on Behalf of the Philanos Board
    May 5, 2020

    On the recent Philanos COVID call, it was clear that many affiliates are struggling with how to hold their big grant announcement, Town Hall, Annual Meeting or other large events.  We’ve done a bit of research, with a view toward trying to provide solutions.  We learned a lot, so we thought we would share that information and offer links to some resources.

    As a caveat, you should realize that the general rule of thumb regarding security and conferencing/meeting apps is that you get what you pay for.  Free versions of any company’s virtual meetings have fewer security features.   Once you buy a version, however, you are getting much better security, and end-to-end encryption of your meeting.  While we are not endorsing any platform, these are worth your consideration.  Most are offering free versions of their paid levels for an initial period of time.

    • Zoom is the platform that we use at Philanos, and that many of our affiliates are also using or trying during this time.   They offer a free version, and three levels of paid versions:  Pro, Business and Enterprise.  We use the Pro account with one host, as do most groups who are using a paid account, which allows up to 100 participants per meeting. 
    • For those of you with basic Pro account ($14.95 per month with one host), it is possible to add extra capacity (participants) and then cancel the add-on the following month.   This may be the most economical solution for those hosting only one or two large events per year, or those facing additional participant space for any given event.
    • The Webinar capability is a separate add-on at additional cost—and this also requires more technical skill to manage and run.  It is, however, the best way to do large educational events or presentations to a large group.  We use the Webinar capability for all our Philanos’ Webinars.
    • Google Meet (formerly Hangouts) announced this week that it is free for up to 300 users through September 30, 2020. Some of you may want to try this for board or committee meetings, as long as you invite members individually and not share your meeting logins on social media.  Firms and computers with strong firewalls may not allow users to log in Google Meet, or onto any free conferencing app, due to security issues.   Our Board tried Google Meet this past week, and two of our Board members were unable to log in on through their secure computers.  Another option:  Google Hangouts Premium is free through July 1.
    • Zoho Meetings offers end-to-end encryption for their paid plans which makes them secure. Zoho has a meeting platform for up to 100 people for $8/month and offers webinars for up to 250 for $63/month. Zoho platforms are billed annually, so you would need to make a year-long commitment. 
    • Cisco Webex is another reliable source for virtual work with a free version for 100 users and only one host.  To have additional hosts and add-ons you will need a paid plan, but that means you can offer simultaneous meeting slots. The entry plan (Starter) costs $13.50 per month per host.  If you need several hosts to run various meetings, the monthly price goes up quickly. Their high-end plan offers meeting size up to 200 participants maximum.
    • Microsoft Teams is available for free for six months. The Freemium account offers conferencing tools and video chats for up to 500 users, along with co-authoring and file-sharing of Word, Excel and PowerPoint in real time. See their website for all their tips and tools.
    • GoToMeeting tools for working remotely (for video conferencing, webinars, and virtual events) are free for three months to a variety of essential and first time remote workers, including nonprofits. 
    • Dropbox Premium is free for three months for nonprofits focused on fighting COVID-19.
    • Higher Logic is providing its tools for virtual event communities free for the remainder of this year.

    We hope this helps.  It’s not everything, but it’s a good start. 

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    Last modified: Friday, July 17, 2020 9:11 AM | Philanos Admin (Administrator)

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