Many advocacy organizations start as a like-minded group of individuals who are willing to volunteer large amounts of time and effort to improve the situation of those affected by a genetic condition. Because a large distance might separate those individuals, and because staff may have other obligations to manage, working remotely might be one of the most logical ways to connect an organization and accomplish tasks on the agenda.
If you have volunteers or staff working remotely, it is important to provide them the tools they need to complete their work and stay connected with the other staff members. If financial duties are part of the job description, make sure the remote staff member has access to the accounts and the means to work with them. If group members are collaborating on a project, there should be a timeline or schedule that everyone can access. There are many tools available!
- AIM - AOL's instant messaging service provides free person-to-person text communication, chatroom messaging, and the ability to share files peer-to-peer
- Conference Call Services - Conference calls allow multiple people in different locations to participate in the same telephone call.
- Google Voice - service that provides free computer-to-computer voice and video calls and free computer-to-phone calls in North America, the option to get one Google phone number to connect all of your phone numbers, and an automatic voicemail transcription service
- GoToMeeting - online meeting-hosting service; participants can all view the desktop of one host computer
- join.me - free screen-sharing and online meeting tool
- Skype - service that provides free voice and video calls to other Skype users (including international users); additional features include instant messaging and file transfer
- Webinars - interactive web seminars; usually a live presentation in which a speaker presents information to an online audience who can then participate in the conference through chats, file shares, or computer microphones
File Sharing Tools
- Box.net - file-sharing, content management, and collaboration service
- Dropbox - file hosting service that is useful for storing, sharing, and archiving files and folders; free up to 2GB with additional space available for a monthly fee
- Google Documents - free tool to create, edit, and share work online; documents, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings, and forms can all be created or uploaded, accessed anywhere, and shared in real-time
- Remote Servers - Remote servers allow employees working offsite to access the organization's files and folders. Storing files in a shared drive on a remote server allows these files to be accessed by anyone in the organization, whether or not they are in a main office. Oftentimes, an organization can put the shared area, password protected, on the server used to host this organization's website. A Remote Desktop Server is also useful, as it allows employees away from the office to access all of the applications and data on their office desktop as if they were physically sitting in front of it.
- Bank of America online - allows complete account access, with a three dollar charge for transfers without a deposit ticket
- Google Documents - tool to create and share spreadsheets and word documents
- QuickBooks Online - online accounting service
- Basecamp - project collaboration tool that offers to-do lists, milestone management, file sharing, time tracking, and a messaging system
- e-fax - service for sending faxes online
- Google Sites - easy way to create and share group websites for free; tools include file attachment, organizational calendars, etc.
- Huddle - team collaboration and project management application; provides file sharing, document management, web conferencing, discussion boards, and more
- Wikis - service that allows the creation and editing of any number of interlinked web pages; often used to create collaborative works
- Zoho - portfolio of more than twenty different online applications for businesses
Recording and Uploading Tools
- BoinxTV - tool to create recordings or live videos; allows one to combine live camera video, clips, photos, 3D graphics, lower thirds, audio, and more
- Final Cut Express - video editing tool
- QuickTime - free tool that exports videos to the Internet; exporting with QuickTime creates a master file with three formats: iPhone (high bandwidth), low bandwidth, and desktop
It is useful when exporting videos to export both a Quicktime file and .WMV file (for Windows Media Player), so those without Quicktime can also watch. Once these files have been exported, add links online to both the master file and the .WMV file and upload them to the server.
- Doodle - tool to schedule group meetings efficiently
- Klok - service to help keep track of time
- World Clock's Time Converter - useful site when planning meetings with contributors in multiple time zones
- The Time Now - another useful site to determine the time around the world that is also accessible for those with visual impairments