“Through collaboration, the Forum builds and supports systems to promote positive experiences and outcomes for young children. …Because Kids Can’t Wait!”
That’s the mission statement of the Children’s Forum, a not-for-profit organization supporting early childcare and education programs for children in Florida. Through various programs and outreach efforts, the Forum is a valuable partner to members of the early care and learning community.
We spoke with Bill Kirchhoff, Chief Technology Officer of the Children’s Forum, to learn about the nonprofit’s mission and how OnSIP is being used to support the mobile staff there.
Serving Educators and Children Throughout the State of Florida
Based in Tallahassee, the not-for-profit organization guides and advocates for school programs—early care, education, and after-school—and their staff members throughout the state. The Forum was started in 1975 and incorporated as a nonprofit in 1989.
“We provide scholarships and salary stipends to childcare workers in the state of Florida and make it our mission to support efforts to improve the quality of childcare and early education through various other programs,” says Bill.
The organization also provides membership opportunities to early educators, teachers, and school program directors. These professionals can apply for membership in the Forum to receive a variety of benefits, and active memberships help them meet their requirements for various credentials and accreditation programs.
To support the Children’s Forum mission and efforts, visit the Donate page on their website to learn how you can make a donation.
Needing a Flexible VoIP Service to Unite a Mobile Staff
The Forum was using an on-premise phone system but it had reached end-of-life. And coupled with the fact that the service’s local support was retiring soon after, Bill and his colleagues needed to find a new phone service for their nonprofit.
While the Forum employs some remote workers within the United States, the whole staff has been entirely remote since the summer of 2023 as they renovate and move into a new office space. This reality meant that the org’s new phone system had to be flexible and mobile to support the needs of its distributed staff and unify an organization with remote offices.
Bill found OnSIP through internet searches. And after reading user testimonials and receiving good support during calls and interactions with our staff, he selected OnSIP hosted VoIP to be the Children’s Forum new phone service. In choosing OnSIP, he observes that our “smaller size company with North American support was a major factor” in his decision.
“At the time we signed on with OnSIP, we greatly appreciated the ‘small company’ feel and attention to us as a major customer vs. just another fish to the larger companies.”
VoIP for Nonprofits: Phone Features and Customer Support
The organization relies on OnSIP’s mobile calling features to keep its staff connected and collaborating as a team while everyone is working in separate locations. Specifically, Bill notes how the OnSIP app—our softphone available in the web browser and as a desktop app and mobile app—has been very helpful since they’ve switched over to OnSIP.
Each staff member can download the app to their computer, laptop, or smartphone and have a full-featured business phone right on their screen. As calls come through to an employee’s extension, he can answer them at home right on his preferred device.
The OnSIP app also enables an employee to video call coworkers, host video conferences, see the presence statuses of coworkers (who is available, on a call, or offline, i.e.), play, download, and delete voicemails, save call preferences, and much more. Bill states that “Having multiple platforms to make and receive calls has been essential to our move to a remote workforce.”
The Children’s Forum uses a variety of other OnSIP features in their calls and communications with the public. They utilize an auto attendant (also known as a virtual receptionist) to route their calls automatically. The attendant answers each call with a pre-recorded greeting and provides callers with a menu of options to reach specific employees or departments.
They also use call queues to distribute calls to agents and hold calls in line when all agents are busy. Call queues provide a dashboard (located in the OnSIP desktop app) that gives a supervisor a real-time overview of call stats and agent performance. The dashboard provides data such as number of callers that are waiting on hold, average wait time, longest wait time, and which agents are available or on calls. Bill and his team routinely review these stats to gain insight into calling patterns and usage trends.
If Bill has a question about setting up a feature or the best way to address a VoIP for nonprofits calling need, he knows OnSIP’s Customer Support team is a support ticket, call, chat, or email away! Of our support team, he says, “Generally, very good. Reps are available, know a lot about the service and are motivated to solve our problems.”
We’re happy to know that the Children’s Forum is successfully using OnSIP to keep the communication lines open among its distributed team and with the public at large. It’s a great example that illustrates how companies with hybrid and remote working policies can use hosted VoIP—and OnSIP, specifically—to keep their staff unified and productive.