phone-systems-for-nonprofit-organizations

The Best Phone Systems for Nonprofits: Choosing the Right Provider

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Nina

A nonprofit’s HR department has a lot of responsibilities, not the least of which is communicating effectively with its team. Even in today’s internet-driven world, a phone system is essential for enforcing nonprofit HR policies. With the right system, you can seamlessly communicate and collaborate.

After extensive research, we have uncovered some of the best phone system services currently on the market. In this guide, we give you the lowdown on the prices and features of each so that you can choose one for your organization. 

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What Qualifies as a Phone System?

Business phone systems differ significantly from residential phones. Most importantly, they can transfer calls and have multiple lines.

There are three types of business phone systems that nonprofits use as well: 

  • Key system units (KSU): This type of phone system has limited phone lines. It uses a central switching device where you manually select a specific phone line. As the simplest type of phone system, we recommend only small nonprofits use it. 

  • Private branch exchange (PBX): This type of phone system uses a programmable switching device, allowing you to direct certain calls to specific phone lines automatically. PBX phone systems provide a happy medium between cost and function. 

  • Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP): This type of phone system is the most versatile. With a solid internet connection, you can access its cloud services through cell phone, desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or virtually any other device. A VoIP system elevates your nonprofit office space. It opens up new possibilities, allowing those working for a nonprofit to share documents, join team communities, and more.

phone-systems-for-nonprofit-organizations-what-doesAnthony is taking notes on some of the specifics of phone systems.

The type of phone system you choose will depend on your nonprofit’s needs and budget. The right phone system will not help you staff your nonprofit organization, but it will ensure that your employees can do their jobs well. This, in turn, ensures employee satisfaction and reduces employee turnover within your nonprofit organization.

Pro Tip: Most modern nonprofits choose a VoIP system. If you go that route as well, provide nonprofit HR training on it for all new hires, as it takes a bit of time to get the hang of.

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What Does a Phone System Do?

Your smartphone can perform many functions, such as allowing voice and video calls, sending text messages, and accessing the internet. A phone system is like a smartphone in many ways, only supercharged. That is why it is one of the most essential HR services for nonprofits.

Most phone systems offer the following features: 

  • Auto-attendant

  • Call forwarding

  • Visual voicemails

  • On-hold messages

  • Conference calls

  • Handset support

Pro Tip: Data-driven nonprofits love phone systems that provide detailed records of how and when employees utilize them. For starters, these analytics help you determine if the hefty price you are paying for a particular plan is worth it. Managers in nonprofit organizations must prioritize several factors at once. This data helps them do that by balancing what their workers need with what their budget allows for.

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The Best Phone Systems for Nonprofits

The following are some examples of the most popular phone systems out there. We have chosen to feature only VoIP phone systems, as their enhanced functionalities give your nonprofit organization the best chance possible at high employee retention

Note that while there are other types of free HR software for nonprofits, phone services do not tend to be one of them. They generally offer a variety of tiers, with higher pricing equating to more functionality. 

phone-systems-for-nonprofit-organizations-best-systemsOliver is ready to hear all about the best phone systems for nonprofits!

Fortunately, many phone systems offer nonprofit discounts and free demo periods so that you can try the products before committing to one.

RingCentral

RingCentral’s claim to fame is its mind-blowing number of features. Higher tiers allow more user accounts and offer greater report-generating capabilities. 

These features come at a cost — more than some nonprofits can afford to pay. Fortunately, it provides a standard 25% nonprofit discount and a demo version. 

Notable Features: 

  • Integrations with Microsoft 365, Slack, Google Workspace, and more

  • Team messaging

  • Video meetings for up to 200 participants

  • Unlimited storage at the Ultimate tier

  • Unlimited calling

Plans and Pricing:

  • Essential: Monthly (Annually): $32.99 ($19.99)

  • Standard: Monthly (Annually): $40.99 ($27.99)

  • Premium: Monthly (Annually): $47.99 ($34.99)

  • Ultimate: Monthly (Annually): $62.99 ($49.99)

Best For: Large nonprofits that require a lot of functionality, such as integration with nonprofit HR software, and have the money to spend on this expensive phone system. 

Nextiva

One of Nextiva’s selling points is that it is easy to get up and running quickly. It does not hurt that the phone system is affordable, either. 

Nextiva provides excellent customer service, although it can sometimes be challenging to navigate its portal. It also offers roughly a 10% discount when you purchase a yearly, instead of a monthly, subscription.

Notable Features: 

  • An auto-attendant function that handles transfers to extensions

  • Call recording

  • HubSpot and Salesforce integrations

  • Unlimited video conference participants

  • Quick setup

Plans and Pricing:

  • Essential: Monthly (Annually): $25.95 ($18.95)

  • Professional: Monthly (Annually): $30.95 ($22.95)

  • Enterprise: Monthly (Annually): $40.95 ($32.95)

Best For: Small or new nonprofits that need an easy-to-set-up phone system that is relatively inexpensive. 

UniVoip

Another reliable VoIP option, UniVoip is a scalable product that focuses on facilitating team collaboration and innovation through its 100% cloud-based service. The company also works to build a community of trust by offering top-tier customer service. 

Notable Features: 

  • Cloud voice for Microsoft Teams

  • Scalable flexibility

  • Real-time monitoring

  • Email integration

Plans and Pricing:

  • All-Inclusive: Monthly: $18.95 per user

  • Other Plans: Contact a representative.

Best For: Small or medium nonprofits, as UniVoip prices per user. 

Intermedia

Intermedia provides many features, though they come at a higher cost than some other providers on our list. It also offers easy service deployment to get things going quickly.

Notable Features: 

  • High-security features, such as real-time backup and antivirus software

  • Free device for every user

  • 24/7 customer service

  • Quick setup

Plans and Pricing:

  • Unite Pro: Monthly: $27.99 

  • Unite Enterprise: Monthly: $32.99 

Best For: Large nonprofits that can afford the high cost of this phone system and that handle sensitive data, such as medical information, that they need to protect with Intermedia’s security features. 

phone-systems-for-nonprofit-organizations-final-thoughtsSam is checking out UniVoip right now!

Zoom Phone

A well-established communication company, Zoom Video Communications joined the VoIP game in 2018. It offers vast integration, high security, and competitive pricing. 

Notable Features: 

  • Easy-to-add users and extensions

  • Call queueing, routing, and forwarding

  • Real-time call performance monitoring

  • Scalable flexibility

Plans and Pricing:

  • Zoom Phone Metered: Annually: $120 per user

  • Zoom Phone Unlimited: Annually: $180 per user

  • Zoom Phone Select: Annually: $240 per user

Best For: Small or medium nonprofits that want to use well-known software and want to choose between various product and pricing packages. 

Pro Tip: Research these providers and others to see what features, products, and prices are out there. You can get a feel for their customer service by reading reviews on the Better Business Bureau and other consumer review websites. Afterward, list your three favorite options. and speak to representatives from them.

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Final Thoughts

While the phone system providers we have listed are some of the most popular ones on the market, that does not mean they are the best for your organization. Therefore, you should shop around to find a product that meets your needs and respects your bottom line.

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FAQ

💡What is a phone system?

A phone system gives your nonprofit a way to make and receive calls. It is like the landline phone that you see in residences, but with more capabilities. Find out more. 

🔑 What does a phone service do?

Phone services for businesses can, of course, take calls. But they also offer call transfers, multiple phone lines, and other features. Find out more. 

📝 What are the best phone services for nonprofits?

The best phone system providers for nonprofits are RingCentral, Nextiva, UniVoip, Intermedia, and Zoom Phone. Find out more.

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Organization & HR
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Nina
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