One of the most important aspects of charity work is sharing knowledge. With traditional seminars and in-person training on hold for the foreseeable, charities will need to adopt a webinar platform to share learning digitally
Webinars – virtual seminars which are held online – are a very valuable tool for charities. That’s because they are much easier and less costly to organise than traditional seminars. With traditional seminar formats off-limits due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent introductions of social distancing guidelines and lockdown restrictions, we have seen a marked uptick in the popularity of the webinar format.
Charities may want to hold a webinar for many different reasons. They are a good way to introduce new services; they can be used as part of fundraising efforts; they can be an effective way of staying in contact with constituents, and they offer a means of publicising case studies of the charity’s activities.
The best way to hold a well-organised and effective webinar is to make use of one of the many webinar platforms that are available. These offer features including:
The name "webinar" comes from the idea of a seminar held on the web, and some webinar platforms do allow participation with nothing more than a web browser. However, with the increasing sophistication of webinar platforms, many now require that users download a program or mobile app to enable them to use the platform.
There are a bewildering number of webinar platforms out there, but here are some of the best ones for charities and other non-profit organisations:
Good for: Charities that hold webinars regularly
This is software giant Adobe’s webinar offering, and it is one of the best out there.
The platform has a very full feature set including open chats, polls and surveys, and you can create your own registration page, send out invitations and reminders, and even create follow-up communications, which is a very useful feature for charities using a webinar for fundraising purposes.
Pricing: Pricing is based on number of participants, ranging from $50 per month for up to 25 participants, to $580 per month for up to 1000 participants. Unlimited webinars.
Good for: Charities starting out with webinars.
One of Webinar Jam’s key selling points is that it is extremely easy to use, making it ideal for charities which are just starting out with webinars, or who have little in-house technical expertise.
Webinar Jam offers live chat as well as virtual whiteboards and polls alongside core webinar functionality. It also allows attendees to sign up to charity services directly from the webinar.
Pricing: From $499 per year for up to 500 attendees, to $999 per year for up to 5,000 attendees. Unlimited webinars
Good for: Getting the audience involved.
ClickMeeting comes from the videoconferencing world, and it is an effective videoconferencing platform.
But it also contains many features that are useful for webinars including a meeting room where information can be made available to attendees before the webinar starts, and polls and surveys which attendees can take even if they are watching a recording of the event.
A whiteboard can also be activated during the webinar and afterwards for question and answer sessions.
Pricing: Prices start at £20 per month for unlimited webinars
Good for: Small charities and small budgets.
Most people are now familiar with Zoom as a videoconferencing platform, but it’s also an excellent choice for a webinar platform – especially if you are looking for a free tool for shorter webinars. It offers many essential features like HD video and audio, screen sharing and live broadcasting, and scheduling is made easy thanks to its close integration with Google Calendar and Microsoft Outlook.
Pricing: Prices from free. £119.90 for up to 100 participants, £159.90 for up to 500 participants. Other pricing on request.
GoToWebinar is one of the oldest webinar platforms, having been launched back in 2004. As a result, the platform is very mature, and it has earned a reputation for stability and reliability.
Some may point out that the interface looks rather dated, but the platform is very user friendly and can take webinars of 5000 attendees in its stride.
Features include pre-built templates for custom email invitations, reminders and confirmations, and an option for accepting donations during webinars.
Pricing: Prices from £69 per month for up to 100 participants, to 319 per month for 1000 participants