Communication within a nonprofit can be very tricky. When I joined a nonprofit, I quickly discovered that several departments were using Slack as a solution. I thought it would be worth the time to write a quick post on my experience using Slack in a Nonprofit.
Is Slack a good choice for a nonprofit? Overall, Slack offers nonprofits a sizeable discount and is an efficient way to handle communication for teams within an office setting. There are alternatives to Slack as well such as Microsoft Teams. You can find a comparison of different tools at the bottom of this article.
Slack Nonprofit Pricing
Slack uses a tiered-per-user pricing structure that increases with added features. Their standard costs range from a free version up to around $150/year. What Slack offers nonprofits is an 85% discount off of their standard prices. For Slack’s most recent pricing and features, you can visit their pricing page.
It is also worth noting that you can upgrade or downgrade your plan at any time so if you find you need more features or are not using the ones you are paying for, you can make the change without worrying.
Slack has a number of useful features that makes it a great tool for nonprofits. I’m not going to list them all, but here are a few worth noting.
Slack keeps a running history of all of your teams messages on the platform. On any of the paid plans, you can look back at any sent messages. With Slack’s search functionality, you are able to quickly look through past conversations to find relevant information.
Slack was one of the first workplace communication tools to offer Channels or a similar feature. Channels are ways to segment different conversations. You could have a channel for a specific team, project, or topic depending on how you want to handle organizing your workspace.
Slack allows users to share files over it’s platform. This can be done both through direct messages or on channels if a whole team needs to see something. You will want to be careful not to rely on this too heavily as there are some fairly low caps to the amount of files that can be stored on the system.
Slack offers seemingly hundreds of integrations for its platform. With the integrations and Slack’s easy to use Workflow Builder, you can set up notifications to certain channels or start a process on another tool your nonprofit is already using. The advantage of having so many integrations is that Slack can likely streamline and simplify processes that you already have in place.
With Slack’s paid plans, you gain the ability to invite users to your workspace with guest accounts or share channels with other organizations. This allows contractors and partners to seamlessly join your communication channels and prevents those awkward email chains that everyone is all too familiar with.
Slack encrypts all of its data so you don’t have to worry about a data breach. While most nonprofits aren’t too worried about this, it is great to know that you can use Slack to share sensitive data with confidence. Admins are also able to require two-factor authentication as an extra security measure.
Voice and Video Calls
This feature has become standard across platforms that facilitate collaboration of any type. With the free version of Slack you are able to make one-to-one calls and with the paid version you have up to 15 people on a single call. There are definitely better options out there for large video meetings, but for collaboration on a single project, the user limitation seems reasonable.
Best Practices When Getting Started
It’s very easy to jump into Slack and start working right away, but I’ve seen several instances of poorly implemented workspaces. There were hundreds of channels, users couldn’t find what they were looking for, and user adoption was a nightmare. Here are some tips to help you set up your workspace.
Plan Out Your Channels
This is probably the most important step to take after selecting Slack as your collaboration tool. Slack’s Channels provide a ton of flexibility, and with that, the ability to make a lot of bad choices. An organization can quickly get carried away and have 10 times more Channels than users if they aren’t careful. Here is how I recommend setting up Channels.
- Teams – Create a Channel for each distinct team in your org. If a team has 3 or fewer people in it, it’s not worth making a Channel for it.
- Projects – It can be very valuable to have a channel for a specific project, but this can get out of hand very quickly. The ideal criteria for making a unique Channel for a project is when it crosses individuals from multiple teams and will take at least a month to complete.
- Topics – Outside of introductions and announcements, I haven’t seen a good use for Channels built around Topics. Depending on the culture of your org, you may add a Channel for users to just have fun and share memes.
If you follow these guidelines and the principle of less is more, then you should have an optimized setup for your workspace.
Select A File Storage Solution
The reality is, while Slack offers file sharing and storage, the limits are pretty small. Unless you are only ever sending text documents, the 5 GB that Slack gives an organization on the free plan will most likely be used up very quickly. On the paid plans you get either 10 or 20 GB per user. This lasts a lot longer, but if you are sharing images or other larger file types, expect to use that storage quickly.
The solution is to look at a third party file storage tool and use it along side of Slack. Whether it is Dropbox, Google Drive, or something else, I recommend storing and sharing files outside of Slack and then linking to the files from within the platform.
Build A Process For Onboarding Users
User adoption is key to a successful deployment of Slack. If user’s aren’t using your collaboration tool, then there really isn’t a point in having it. I recommend having a small “launch party” for any new tool that multiple users will be actively using. This way current collaborators can become familiar with the tool and see it as a fun solution to office communication.
Another thing to keep in mind is when someone new joins your team. I have found it is best to have a document or planned side-by-side walk through of your Slack environment as part of the onboarding process. Have the new person introduce themselves on Slack and share a bit about themselves. Also, make sure they are added to the proper Channels right away so they can look back and get themselves up to speed on what’s currently going on in your organization.
Competitors To Consider
I personally prefer Microsoft Teams over Slack. Microsoft Teams offers an integrated solution for team collaboration within the Office365 environment. It allows for editing of files directly in the interface, a clean way to create team and project “channels” and there is no need to worry about user administration because it is already part of your standard environment. That being said, it really isn’t an option if your org is using Gsuite or another office document solution as opposed to Office365.
Workplace By Facebook
I personally am not overly familiar with Workplace by Facebook but it does have all of the features that Slack offers and then some. It gives employees access to familiar tools including chat, video calls, and file sharing. Workplace by Facebook has a leg up on Slack in terms of file sharing as there is no cap on the number of files that can be shared on the platform, but where it falls short is in the ability to organize conversations.
What does Slack Stand For?
Slack stands for Searchable Log of All Communication and Knowledge. This was released by their CEO back in 2016 on his Twitter account.
Is Slack good for small teams?
Slack can work for both large and small teams. As long as your team has at least 5 people, I would say that it is big enough of make use of Slack.