HangoutsBy far the most exciting and feature-rich free tools provided by Google are Hangout Video Calls and Hangouts on Air.

Hangouts – which can be public or private, free or paid – offer important opportunities to expand your visibility, credibility, and engagement with current and potential donors and volunteers. The features Hangouts provide make them a valuable alternative to traditional paid webinar services.

As with any platform that provides many features (including Excel, WordPress, and LinkedIn) there is a learning curve. But it’s definitely worth the time and effort to learn to use the Hangouts platform.

Here are eight ways your nonprofit can use Hangouts.

1. Webinars – Hangouts on Air are a feature-rich replacement for GoToMeeting, Adobe Connect, and other expensive webinar platforms. Those companies are surely shaking in their boots right now.

2. Training staff and volunteers – Hangouts on Air can be public or private, paid or free. If you’re using an HOA for training, you send the link to join the Hangout only to people you want to include.

Hangouts, recorded and made available via YouTube, are tailor-made for teaching and interacting with volunteers and donors. You also can use them to hold Office Hours when viewers can rotate in and out of a Hangout filmstrip to ask questions.

3. Creating video content from interviews conducted in Hangouts which you can then post on your website, blog, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter streams, in email, and in playlists on your YouTube channel.

4. Meetings – Hangouts on Air allow you to include presentations, screen shares, and a variety of collaborative tools live, in real-time, with up to 15 people included and visible in the filmstrip. There is no limit to the number who can watch and ask questions during a live broadcast.

5. Accepting donations – Hangouts provide a “Donate Now” option for nonprofits to include in their video, during and after the live broadcast.

6. Broadcasting from live events – While you can’t start a Hangout on Air from a mobile device (yet), you can use a mobile device to join a Hangout, allowing you to broadcast from an event. You can use multiple cameras and locations in a Hangout on Air to broadcast from a live event.

7. Press conference – Hangouts are ideal for press events, and are being used by the White House, NASA, and many businesses. The Showcase app, which allows inclusion of documents, presentations, spreadsheets, and links to websites and videos, is the next step in interactive press events.

8. Job interviews – Hangout video calls or Hangouts on Air provide a simple way to interview job candidates or volunteers, have them meet staff members, and answer their questions about the position.

If you’re not already using Hangouts, here’s what you need to know:
There are two kinds of Hangouts:

  • Hangouts/Video Calls – private video chats on desktop or mobile for up to 10 people. Can be initiated via Gmail, or Google+, or Chrome extension. All you need to use them is a quick download of the Hangout app. These cannot be recorded and can be joined only by those who are invited.
  • Hangouts on Air (HOAs) – secure live broadcasts with up to 10 participants, broadcast live in HD, and viewed on Google+ or YouTube from desktop or any connected device. They can be public or private, paid or free. They can be embedded in a website or blog, live or as a video replay. HOAs are automatically recorded to your connected YouTube channel where they can be edited, branded, and search optimized.

You must have a Google+ profile in order to be part of the video, but you do not need to have a Gmail account. Anyone can watch an HOA on YouTube or your website or blog, but they cannot be a guest in the broadcast or ask questions in real-time without a Google+ account.


  • The SEO advantage – You have the opportunity to edit, search optimize, and brand your Hangout On Air videos after you complete them. Google search does not index Facebook content, but it does index—and favor—YouTube content.
  • Hangouts are fully integrated into all Google services, from Google search to YouTube, Gmail, Pay-per-click, Analytics, Google Drive, Google Play, Google Wallet, and more. Therefore, all Google services can be incorporated into Hangouts on Air.

B.L. Ochman (@whatsnext on Twitter) is a digital strategist for Fortune 500 companies and a contributor to Innovairre Communications, which supports more than 500 nonprofit organizations around the world. For more information about multichannel marketing for nonprofits, contact us at Answers@Innovairre.comFollow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.