Is Slack Right for My Nonprofit?
Slack is a messaging app touting itself as “Team communications for the 21st century.” It’s a product with a lot of buzz, and as such has come to the attention of many nonprofit organizations.
Those who want to know “what is Slack?” can visit the product overview page on the Slack website. I’m not going to repeat that information here. Suffice to say that the “Less email. More productive.” claim appeals to many who feel they are drowning in email.
But is Slack right for your nonprofit?
Slack rightly focuses its marketing message on teams rather than entire organizations. The communication style the Slack product encourages is a cultural shift more easily absorbed by teams with certain traits.
Teams that will thrive with Slack have one or more of the following traits:
- Technologically nimble
Nonprofits don’t often share these characteristics across the entire organization. (The larger and older the organization is, the less likely to share these traits across the board.) And you need to have a fully committed executive team in place to universally implement a product like Slack. So it’s perhaps most natural for particular teams to first implement Slack. Other other interested teams may then follow as they perceive some benefit.
This is not to pick on Slack. Many organizations aren’t capable of getting sufficient buy-in to implement uniform communication/collaboration tools for the entire organization. It would be the same whether those tools are Yammer, Small World Labs, or even project management tools like Teamwork or Basecamp.
How should my nonprofit start with Slack?
If you want to try Slack, come up with a very particular use case within a team possessing all or most of the characteristics listed above. Then clearly define how you will measure success with Slack. What will Slack help you to do better than before? How will using it produce better outcomes? Once this team has demonstrated success with Slack over a reasonable period of time, you can share that success with other teams in the organization.