You’ve probably heard of Google+ Hangout and perhaps even used it to connect with family and friends over the holidays. But have you thought about the uses it could have for foundation staff and grantees?
I started thinking about the possibilities after using Google+ Hangout for a team project and a virtual meeting. I’ve created a list of four innovative ideas you may want to consider:
1. Foster grantee collaboration. With Google+ Hangout, you can hold a videoconference with up to 10 people. If someone isn’t able to connect, you can invite the person with a direct call. This idea may work better for foundations that currently rely on portals and discussion boards to foster communication among grantees and other professionals. With Hangout, everybody is in the same place at the same time adding valuable ideas to the discussion in real-time. Consider using the Symphonical app for a virtual whiteboard, the Hangout screen sharing option to show a presentation, or the Google Docs tool to collaborate on a document in real-time. Program officers can choose to host Google+ Hangouts with grantees to assist them in making connections with others that could further their work.
2. Broadcast lessons learned. Use the Hangouts On Air (HOA) option to broadcast and record discussions of lessons learned from program staff or grantees. An added advantage of HOA is the ability to stream the meeting on your Google+ profile, YouTube channel, and another external site. Those watching the broadcasted content on your YouTube channel can comment in real time. Keep track of these comments within the Hangout by using the Comment Tracker app included within the Hangout Toolbox. If you’re afraid someone might interrupt the public broadcast, use the Cameraman app to wield more control over who appears in your broadcast.
3. Making virtual site visits. If you have several grantees in your portfolio that shine, why not use your mobile phone and the Hangout app when you conduct a site visit? You can demonstrate how successful a grant has been and show the impact a grantee is making within the community in real time. For grantees, consider reaching out to your assigned program manager or program officer to show them in real-time how funded work is coming along.
4. Promote replication of practices that produce exceptional results. Do you have a program in your portfolio whose exceptional results make it a candidate for replication? Why not ask grantee staff to educate others via Hangout? This could save other nonprofit leaders the travel time and expense they would normally spend for an on-site. It also allows your star grantee to share what has worked for them and increase their impact.
I am excited about this tool and look forward to its increased use by grantmakers and grantees. If you want to learn more about Hangout, make sure to connect with your foundation librarian.
Sophia Guevara is the chair of the Consortium of Foundation Libraries affinity group