VoIP for Nonprofits: Top Features & Benefits for NGOs

January 5, 2024 9 min read

Danny Grainger

Danny Grainger

voip for nonprofits

Nonprofit organization leaders often worry about how to grow relationships with donors and volunteers, fulfill their mission, and keep costs in check. 

One of the most impactful decisions you can make is your phone system.

Unfortunately, traditional phone services aren’t designed with nonprofits in mind.

Between clunky equipment, inflexible call routing, and limited capabilities, traditional landline systems often create more headaches than benefits for organizations relying on tight budgets and volunteer support.

If you’ve been considering a phone system upgrade but are unsure where to start, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) may be the ideal solution. Calls are connected through the cloud rather than via physical phone lines to make and receive phone calls. All you need is an internet connection.

Read on and discover why so many nonprofits are transitioning from old-school phones to VoIP systems.

Why Are Nonprofits Ditching Their Traditional Phone Systems?

Outdated phone systems have numerous limitations that hinder nonprofit productivity and client relations. Here are some of the top reasons for organizations to upgrade to VoIP.

1. High operating costs

The initial investment in an on-premises PBX system, plus ongoing maintenance and updates, makes traditional phone systems far more expensive than VoIP alternatives. 

Paying monthly fees for each landline also racks up expenses quickly. Because most nonprofits operate on extremely tight budgets, these ongoing costs unnecessarily divert funds from actual efforts and to operational costs. 

Typical VoIP cost vs traditional phone.

2. Lack of flexibility & scalability

Since traditional phone systems rely on physical phone lines and hardware, as your nonprofit evolves, adding or removing extensions is difficult. 

For instance, if you open a new office or need to quickly set up phones for a temporary fundraising drive, the costs of rewiring and equipment purchases add up quickly, limiting scalability.

3. Limited call handling capacity

Most legacy phone systems depend on a predetermined number of physical phone lines. If all these lines are occupied with current calls, any additional incoming calls sit in long queues, are blocked, are sent to voicemail, or are disconnected. 

This presents a major problem for small businesses and NGOs, as it often means missed donations and disappointed supporters for critical initiatives during high-traffic periods.

PBX vs. VoIP

4. Poor integration with CRMs

Since legacy communication systems operate in isolation from other systems, call data doesn’t automatically populate your CRM or other systems. 

Without built-in integration, your team must manually track and log all call interactions — an inefficient process prone to human error. Valuable data inevitably slips through the cracks, leading to disjointed experiences for supporters.

5. Security concerns

With legacy telephone services, all hardware and infrastructure sit in your offices, making it potentially difficult to protect. Intruders or accidents could compromise servers, and failing to update infrastructure can leave your customer’s sensitive data at risk.

VoIP solutions offer call encryption to prevent unwanted eavesdropping on your communications. This is especially important for cause-driven organizations. 

6. Limited reporting & analytics

Most old-school phone systems provide little to no call data, just basic logs of inbound/outbound calls and durations. 

Without detailed insights — such as peak calling times, unanswered calls, and call origin — it’s nearly impossible to identify areas you need to improve on or to make data-backed decisions to enhance fundraising and outreach.

A cloud-based phone service is a better option for fiscally responsible nonprofits. It offers a lot of capabilities with limitless scalability, enhanced call handling, and powerful integrations. 

VoIP Benefits for Nonprofit Organizations

By switching to a VoIP phone system for nonprofit organizations, your organization can overcome these challenges while unlocking the following game-changing advantages.

💸 Affordable communication

VoIP phone systems typically have lower setup and ongoing costs than traditional phone lines, making them ideal for nonprofits with tight budgets.

With no need for physical hardware or extensive wiring, nonprofits can save on maintenance and infrastructure costs.

You can avoid expensive PBX investments and per-line fees, and since VoIP uses an internet connection, your existing network is all that’s required. This significant reduction in costs provides the budget relief that nonprofits desperately need.

💡 Pro tip: If your organization is tax-exempt, you can qualify for even more savings. Ask about how you can skip paying sales or excise taxes associated with your VoIP service. 

📱Remote-ready phones

VoIP service providers support a remote workforce, allowing team members to stay connected even when they’re out in the field or working from home. 

VoIP network diagram for a single office.

This frees users from physical office phones. And with advanced features such as call forwarding, softphones, and mobile apps, your team can contact one another as and when needed.

🤝 Improved donor engagement

Organizations can use VoIP systems for outreach and follow-up calls, keeping donors informed and engaged with their causes. With instant access to caller profiles during calls, your team can better foster meaningful connections with your supporters. 

Toll-free numbers have been shown to increase consumer trust, and these numbers allow large donors to speak with your team about where to send their funds. 

Follow-ups are streamlined by logging interactions directly into your CRM, a level of personalization that helps drive donor loyalty and security.

📩 Added SMS messaging capabilities

Younger demographics prefer texting over calling, making SMS messaging an effective tool for engaging new and potential donors. 

Integrated SMS messaging bridges communication gaps for supporters who favor text messages over calls and emails. Quick mass texts can notify thousands of supporters instantly to spur immediate action, which is useful for last-minute fundraising drives or event updates.

✅ Enhanced team collaboration

Features such as group chats, video conferencing, and file sharing improve team collaboration, leading to more efficient project management.

By consolidating voice, video, and text communications into one platform, long-distance teams can work together cohesively and flexibly. Unified systems unite employees and volunteers, streamlining teamwork.

Here’s how Social Vocational Services of California, supporting adults with developmental or intellectual disabilities, uses a business phone system to reliably and consistently connect staff and coordinate programming with families and caregivers across its 80 locations.

Also Read: How Nextiva Helps United Way Raise $2.6M in Virtual Telethons

Top 10 Essential VoIP Features for Nonprofits

To truly transform your nonprofit’s communications, look for a VoIP system that includes the following key features.

1. Auto-attendant

An automatic virtual receptionist greets incoming callers, offers menu choices, such as “Press 1 for Donations,” and routes calls correctly. An auto-attendant provides 24/7 coverage with minimal labor costs, ensuring you never miss a call, even after hours or during staff shortages. 

Your call flows don’t have to be complicated. Your team can adapt them to your hours of availability or special fundraising events. 

2. Call routing

Intelligent call routing defines where calls should go based on your preferences and needs. 

You can send certain calls to voicemail, direct top donors to account representatives, or forward urgent messages to cell phones. When call volume spikes, you can adapt call directing on the fly or prepare routing rules for special events.

Inbound call routing

3. Conference calls & video meetings

Choose a cloud-based phone system that enables audio or video conferencing, screen sharing, and other options to connect in real time, allowing your team to collaborate from anywhere without logistical headaches or travel costs.

With a hosted VoIP platform such as Nextiva, you don’t need to pay for extra meeting software or conference call services — these are included. 

4. Mobile & desktop softphones

Softphones allow staff and volunteers to use their mobile devices as extensions of the VoIP system, ensuring they stay connected wherever they are. Employees can be productive regardless of where they are — in the office, at home, or in the field.

5. Voicemail to email

Voicemail transcriptions eliminate the need to dial in and check messages manually. Email alerts notify staff of new voicemails, while speech-to-text conversions provide the contents in writing right in your inbox for quick reviewing. 

This helps your team respond faster and ensures no messages slip through the cracks.

6. SMS communications

Integrated SMS makes connecting with supporters smoother across their preferred communication channels – phone, email, or text. 

Reach a wider audience by texting event reminders, donation confirmations, or other notifications directly from your business phone system.

7. Interactive voice response (IVR)

One of the major features of a VoIP phone system is the ability to interact with callers via voice commands or keypad inputs, providing a self-service option for accessing information or completing certain tasks.

How IVR works

Customize your IVR menus to simplify tasks, such as:

Furthermore, IVR provides self-serve options 24/7 without tying up employees. Gathering basic information upfront helps route callers to a representative more efficiently, streamlining your customer experience.

8. Call analytics and reporting

Robust call analytics provides at-a-glance visibility into call volumes, wait times, abandoned calls, busy signals, and more. 

Trend reports uncover usage patterns to inform better resource planning — know which call sources provide the best ROI and proactively identify issues before they impact KPIs.

Nextiva voice analytics

9. CRM integration

Linking your CRM and phone system enables automatic call logging and screen pops for caller information, giving staff instant access to caller profiles during calls. 

The CRM automatically logs interactions, keeping records organized in a single solution.

10. Call recording and transcription

Recording calls creates valuable opportunities, such as resolving disputes, onboarding new hires faster with sample calls, reducing liability risks, and keeping permanent records of special announcements or interviews. 

Transcriptions make the content searchable, while AI can analyze interactions to enhance team performance.

Top-Rated VoIP Providers for Nonprofits

When evaluating VoIP solutions, be sure to consider providers designed with nonprofits in mind, such as:

1. Nextiva

Nextiva cloud phone system

Renowned for its reliability and comprehensive communications solutions, Nextiva is a complete suite of tools that includes voice, video, text, instant messaging, and CRM integration.

Nextiva stands out as a top provider that is purpose-built to empower nonprofit productivity and community relations. Its industry-leading platform conquers previous communication limitations through powerful VoIP features, easy CRM integrations, unlimited scalability, and top-notch reliability.

As a cloud-based platform, Nextiva also eliminates the security risks and maintenance costs that plague outdated systems. True scalability means effortlessly adapting to campaigns or growth spurts without service disruption or surprise costs.

G2 rating: 4.5 out of 5 (2,896 customer reviews)

2. KrispCall

KrispCall phone system

Known for its user-friendly interface and affordable pricing, KrispCall provides a unified platform for calls, SMS, and CRM integration, making it a versatile choice for nonprofits with varied communication needs.

G2 rating: 4.4 out of 5 (21 customer reviews)

3. Telzio

Telzio phone system

Telzio offers straightforward, scalable VoIP solutions with an emphasis on simplicity and transparency in pricing, providing a full-featured phone system with unlimited users and extensions.

G2 rating: 4.2 out of 5 (3 customer reviews)

Related: 7 Best Telzio Alternatives & Competitors To Check Out

4. Vonage

vonage phone system

Vonage Business combines UCaaS solutions with contact center features, aiming to enhance connections between organizations and their customers. Nonprofits can choose a service level based on the number of users, the calling features needed, and their integration requirements.

G2 rating: 4.3 out of 5 (437 customer reviews)

5. 8×8

8x8 phone service

8×8 prioritizes keeping communications secure, compliant, and available within integrated UCaaS and CCaaS systems. Nonprofits can centralize engagement channels while leveraging advanced analytics to maximize team performance. However, 8×8 lacks the number of features offered by Nextiva. 

G2 rating: 4.1 out of 5 (656 customer reviews)

Your Nonprofit Deserves a Better Phone System

Outdated phone systems are a problem, particularly for cash-strapped nonprofits and NGOs. They can lead to missed opportunities for growth and engagement, hindering the environmental and humanitarian impact a nonprofit organization can have.

However, by upgrading to a feature-rich unified communications VoIP provider, organizations achieve cost savings, flexibility, mobility, and robust call-handling capabilities.

By moving to Nextiva, nonprofits can modernize communications and operate more efficiently — and the move is easy. 

“We had a seamless porting of our old numbers. Training was provided by Nextiva’s onboarding team to me as the administrator and to staff for working knowledge of their phones. Porting, implementation, and setup of the system all went perfectly.” 

Alana Turner, Executive Assistant
Executive Assistant at Children’s Museum of Phoenix

Nextiva’s reliable service ensures no dropped calls or fuzzy call quality — a must for fundraising and outreach initiatives. Nextiva supports these operational needs with enterprise-grade VoIP, budget-friendly pricing, and hands-on implementation support.

Nonprofits turn to Nextiva to strengthen meaningful relationships. Unlimited nationwide calling and texting keep everyone connected in one place.

Intuitive call handling routes each interaction intelligently to match the needs of customers, volunteers, and partners. After you move your communications to the cloud, you’ll be able to spend your finite resources on advancing your mission.

Get robust features, intuitive operation, and stellar reliability at an affordable rate. Let go of old phone system headaches by embracing the future with Nextiva’s VoIP solution, which is purpose-built for nonprofits.

The bottom line is that Nextiva helps today’s nonprofits grow and sustain themselves. Your organization, volunteers, and community will thank you.

Danny Grainger


Danny Grainger

Danny Grainger is a seasoned copywriter who specializes in helping brands build awareness and effectively communicate their value to both businesses and clients. With a focus on business marketing, advertising, and SaaS, he has a knack for translating the intrinsic worth of products and services into compelling narratives.

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