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Using Instant Messaging in the Nonprofit Workplace

Instant messaging is one of the most exciting burgeoning tools available to nonprofits today. It saves time, saves money, and enables quick and easy communication.


Instant messaging works by creating a virtual chat room where employees can send instantaneous written messages to one another. It enables conversations to flow as fast as the fingers can type. Conversations can occur one-on-one or include as many employees as necessary.

There are a variety of ways a nonprofit business can be set up (for example, employees may work from remote sites or there might be long distance offices), and maintaining quick, low-cost communication is key. Having a business meeting through virtual channels eliminates the need for commuting or even air travel. This kind of expense is often what makes or breaks a nonprofit's bottom line.

One of the greatest benefits of instant messaging is that many mobile phones and devices have the capacity to work in the same way that a computer would. An employee who stepped out for a meeting is therefore just as accessible as if she were in the office.

Instant messaging also allows employees to see who is online and who is not, thereby allowing them to ask a quick question or make a quick note without wasting time.

There are a number of choices to use for instant messaging AOL, Yahoo, and Microsoft all have their own versions. These services are free and only require a software download. For organizations looking for a little more security than what is provided by these suppliers, there are enterprise IM services like IBM Lotus and Microsoft Office Live, which come at a price, but use encryption to keep your communication safe.

On the flip side, however, one of the drawbacks of workplace instant messaging is the distraction it provides. Not all communication taking place is work related, and it provides a relatively safe way for employees to communicate for personal reasons while still appearing industrious at the computer.

Instant messaging might not be for everyone, but it is definitely worth taking a look. For general information, you can visit Instant Messaging Planet. You may also consider this article by Security Focus for more information on the security drawbacks on instant messaging.

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