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We are a nonprofit in San Francisco working with adolescents. I would like to be able to send and receive text messages from our computers so my staff doesn't need to use their own cell phones. Is there a program that can do this easily without linking to a smart phone?
Top of Thread
Google Voice! http://voice.google.com
It's what I use to send and receive text messages from my computer. And it's free.
TechSoup Community Forum Manager
sendhub.com has received a lot of praise from what I have read
Maybe I'm just old but isn't a "text message" from one computer to another just email?
Or do you want a chat-message system? I usually use Facebook for that, but the (huge) disadvantage with that not just that each person has to have a FB account but the accounts need to be friended to each other (you can msg without being friends but FB doesn't always tell you). Also you need to be logged into FB to see it.
With any messaging program you need to be logged into it to see the messages.
You can also send text messages from a computer to a phone (any cell phone that allows messaging). There are sites out there that help you figure out what email address a phone number is. It is almost always the 10 digit phone number @ company dot com (or something else). But each phone company has a different domain name from their usual one for this purpose.
For example, the email address that will go straight to my Virgin Mobile cell phone is firstname.lastname@example.org (I changed the number so that's not a real address).
To send from a cell phone to regular email on a computer, just input the email address instead of a phone number when you send a text. There should be an "options" menu where you can pick an alphanumeric keyboard instead of a numbers only one. Tip for figuring out the phone's email address: do the message from the phone first then the computer user will see the address it came from.
I realized you asked for computer to computer but sometimes computer to phone or phone to computer is very useful too.
"Maybe I'm just old but isn't a "text message" from one computer to another just email?"
No. Text messages are received on a cell phones text messaging system. The person's phone's vibrates or rings, depending on how the person has set his or her phone, when a text message is received. Since so many people *don't* have smart phones, and because so many young people still prefer text messaging to online messaging systems, text messages remains an important way to get critical information to people.
Many nonprofits need to send many text messages at once. Hence why this person posted.
Adding another possibility to the mix: Celly.
Here is the FAQ: http://cel.ly/faq
Here is the "about" page: http://cel.ly/about
It's a LOT to slog through - there's no simple "here's what we are, here's what we do" pitch. But wading through it all, it *seems* to be a tool that allows for multiple text messages to be sent to cell phones at once - and for text message-based groups or "cells" to be created where any member can text members of the group.
In a slide show presentation, there are these testimonials:
We used [Celly] to put out the SOS that Occupy Wall Street was being evicted from [Zuccotti Park]. That text message instantly notified over 5,000 people - and was directly to thank for turning out all those people who came to be witness to history that night.”
Shawn Carrie, member of Occupy Wall Street’s Tech Ops Working Group
“I love how @occupysandy ppl using Celly networks 2 share news in real time, better+faster than news orgs :)”
Daniela Capistrano, via Twitter
“Celly is changing the face of education! With Celly, cell phones have the potential to bridge the gap between the home, school, and social media world.”
Melissa Seideman, History Teacher, Haladane High School, Cold Springs, NY
“Every family, work grp or block of neighbors should have: http://cel.ly”
Sam Adams, Mayor, Portland, OR, via Twitter
Anyone out there use this tool? Would it be something the person who started this thread could use?
Google Hangouts is the way to go. On the computer, you can find the Hangouts in the webstore: chrome.google.com/.../nckgahadagoaajjgafhacjanaoiihapd You'll want to have Google Chrome installed on the computers before adding this extension and all staff need to sign in with their Google account. Then your staff with smartphones or tablets can get the Hangouts app and it will all sync. It's super nice. I use it for work daily.
The other thing I would suggest is to look into the open source IM software called OpenFire Server. www.igniterealtime.org/.../openfire. You can use it in conjunction with Spark - the IM client. www.igniterealtime.org/.../index.jsp
You can install it on any computer/server in house.
This will allow you to have instant messaging all in house - all private. If you have offices elsewhere, it can be configured through VPN or the like to connect them all. It's a super nice setup for in-house IM.
I second using Google Apps's feature called Google Voice/Hangout to send and receive text messages. Once you start a primary account with Google Apps, you can invite other users from your organization so all accounts can be managed easily from one place. Another bonus is that you will have access to spreadsheet sharing which could be great for tracking your phone number lists, message content and analyzing the overall success of this project.
DataRaising | Data management and database training for fundraising professionals
Another vote for using Google Voice (GV) for texting. You can use voice.google.com on your desktop, or their iOS and Android apps (or the Talkatone app) to text from a smartphone.
A few things to note: The texts will come from your GV number and that's where replies will go. You can have GV send you an email alert when new texts arrive in case you use email more than your cell. Replies to those emails will show up as texts on the other end. If someone already has your cell number you'll need to train them to use your GV number instead. You can set up GV so if someone calls that number it will ring your cell and/or your office (I assume you need to have a direct dial number in the office, not an extension).
Robert L. Weiner Consulting
Strategic Technology Advisors to Nonprofit and Educational Organizations
San Francisco, CA
robert [AT] rlweiner [DOT] com
On a side note, Google Voice numbers are not available for us Canadians. I want my own GV number!
A bit jealous of you Americans...
Yann Toledano, Digital Marketing Strategist
Host, Web Building Forum, TechSoup.org
Google voice numbers also usually don't receive texts from outside the USA. Very frustrating, as I use Tracfone, which ALSO doesn't accept texts from outside the USA. And for those of us that work with NGOs outside the USA, it's very frustrating!
Our private school handles it the same way I do. Every cell provider has an @something.something type extension for their numbers. At registration, we request the parents' cell numbers and their service provider. We have recorded each provider's "domain name" so when someone says they are on Verizon, we know they are email@example.com. AT&T users are firstname.lastname@example.org.
If a parent ports their number to a new cell provider or cancels their account, we get an "undeliverable" response back when we send the next message out, so we know to contact them and find out their new info.
You can get the full listing of domain names from www.emailtextmessages.com.
Cydin, you are partially right about the email address thingee.
A long time ago, you could use @teleflip.com to SMS people. It would try all of the domains (@att.net or whatever) and then your email would go through to a phone.
It's not really "email" as much as email is a way to interface with the SMS system. SMS texts go back and forth all day without anything to do with email. It's gateway systems like Teleflip (now dead) and Google Voice which provide us a way to interact with the legacy telelphany world.
P.S. +1 for Google Voice. I send probably a 100 txt a day with that. Only downside is that it doesn't let me text abroad, and for that, I use Skype (to do an SMS) or an IP-based system like Viber / WhatsApp to save the other person SMS charges.