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Maine VolunteerFare

Leveraging Technology Saves Money

Published September 9, 2008

At a recent meeting of AmeriCorps and VISTA grantees Harold Shaw, Grants Program Officer for the Maine Commission for Community Service, employed a Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) program called Skype. “We decided to experiment to help save money on travel expenses and to encourage an increase in attendance,” said Shaw. Skype allows virtual web conferencing for up to six participants for free and has a pricing plan for additional features. Meeting participants can connect remotely and interact both visually and verbally during a meeting.

There are many similar technologies available including; Webex, DimDim,GotoMeeting and Microsoft’s Live Meeting .Each solution varies slightly in terms of functionality and cost. Some offer free trials and DimDim’s service costs nothing!

In order to see meeting participants both the individual and the meeting host need to have webcams. Webcams have greatly reduced in cost recently and can be found almost anywhere. With the high cost of fuel a webcam can easily pay for itself in the first use.

Consider taking advantage of some of the free trials to figure out which service best meets your needs. As gas costs rise and budgets shrink this is an excellent alternative to a traditional meeting. “Meeting this way was very successful and well received. We intend to continue to use this type of technology to conduct meetings in the future,” said Shaw.