Working Asynchronously in the Nonprofit Community

Working Asynchronously in the Nonprofit Community

Here at Swell+Good, we talk a lot about work processes. How do we make our team more efficient? How do we improve quality? How can we better serve our clients? And, most importantly, how do we make sure that everyone on our team actually gets to enjoy their life? 

Yes, we love marketing. And yes, we love helping organizations raise more support so that they can better do the work they were born to do. That’s our what, and we’re kind of obsessed with it. 

But if we’re honest, we give equal attention to our how—to the way we do the work, not just the work itself. We’re very, very into work culture. We’re very, very into people being humans first and employees second. And we’re very, very into work being fun and not-terrible. 

We were virtual and remote long before being virtual and remote was cool, so we’ve had lots of time to get creative on how we connect and communicate—and ultimately we feel pretty proud of where we’ve landed. 

Our tricks aren’t magic, but they are intentional. And over the next few weeks, we’re excited to give you an inside look at the secret sauce of Swell+Good.

First up, we’re asynchronous. 

That means that our team can work whenever they want, wherever they want. 

Or, more simply, working asynchronously means when you send a message you don’t expect an immediate response

And here’s the deal: “Not only does async produce the best work results, it also lets people do more meaningful work and live freer, more fulfilled lives.”

Working Asynchronously? How? Well, let’s turn to the research! 

  1. Synchronous communication prioritizes communication over productivity. “Synchronous communication is heavy on staying connected. Here, you are expected to be available at all times during the day. In a team group chat with over 10, 50, or even 100 employees, this could mean you could possibly miss out on important information just because you weren’t available within a certain timeframe.” (Read more!)

    We’ve all experienced this, right? Sitting on Slack waiting for a response? Getting left behind as a reply-all email spirals out of control? Watching your colleagues travel way off course on a problem you could have solved in two seconds all because you took a 30-minute break to make a sandwich?

    The worst.
  2. Synchronous communication promotes overworking and increases work-related stress. “Being constantly available translates to working 24/7 with no downtime. Employees, especially those with parental and spousal responsibilities, fail to find a work-life balance, resulting in increased levels of stress that can often lead to burnout.” (Read more!)

    This is the real problem. When you’re expected to be “on” 24/7, you’ll….be on 24/7. And that’s just not a healthy way to live.

    (You already know our opinions on work emergencies. And if not, here’s a hint: You don’t actually have any.)

But here’s the deal, friends. It doesn’t have to be this way. 

When you prioritize working asynchronously instead of rapid chat (or, even worse, constant meetings), you give your team freedom. You give them flexibility. You give them time. 

Sure, we have client calls that are scheduled. And there are some conversations that just have to happen immediately. But 85% of our internal communication can wait—so it does. 

Here’s how: 

  1. Really, really good task and project management. We use Basecamp (another huge fan of async, btw), but you can use any tool you like. The key is actually using it—and making sure that everyone on your team is using it, too. 
  2. Long-form written updates. It’s the old “this meeting could have been an email” except instead of an email, we default to public posts. Have notes you want to share? Type them up. Have a discussion question? Post it and let people reply when they have time. Writing—then sharing that writing in an open-to-your-team forum—is where the magic happens. 
  3. Plan ahead. If you don’t want crazy, “emergency, do this now” deadlines, you need to have a long horizon. Same-day deadlines are not in our policy (they happen sporadically because…life, but they are absolutely the exception, not the rule). This lets people plan their days and their weeks without worrying about missing a key task that got added to their list two hours ago. 
  4. Over-communicate. Asynchronous communication works when everyone explains everything they’re thinking. Over-communication also makes occasional meetings and conversations way more productive because everyone on your team is already up to speed! 

We’ll keep sending you what we’re learning about working asynchronously (and all of our work processes! We’ve got lots more to test and discover and share!)—and we want to hear from you, too! Have you tried async communication? How has it worked for you? Let us know by replying to this email. Just make sure you do it at a time that works for you. 

The best questions to ask in a donor survey  and 4 other things you need to read this week

The best questions to ask in a donor survey and 4 other things you need to read this week

Welcome to +good — our weekly round-up of the articles, tools, books, videos, and stories we can’t stop talking about.

1. Repurpose your work. ✍️

We are all about working smarter, not harder. And one of the best ways to save yourself time and stress is to get more life out of the work you have already done. How can you squeeze every last drop out of that blog? Could that speech turn into pull quotes on social? Can you turn those stats into infographics?

20 creative ideas about how to reuse your content. [via Hubspot]

2. The best questions ❓ to ask in a donor survey.

We all know we should be getting feedback from our donors. Surveys seem like an effective (and relatively simple) way to do so. But what makes a good survey? What questions should you ask? Learn how to build a survey that actually helps you meet your goals.

Become a donor survey expert. [via Bloomerang]

3. Tips for dealing with 😞 failure.

We all know the adage “fail fast and fail forward.” We know the best leaders fail, and the best entrepreneurs fail a lot. But the truth is that even though we know if might be good for our creativity and progress in the long run, failing feels terrible. We are here for any tips about how to make the best of it (and we are especially here for it when one of the tips is “sleep.” Yes and amen.)

How to handle failure. [via Future Fundraising Now]

4. A tool to make your 🖥️ virtual work easier.

Move over Zoom, it’s time to check out Loom. Instead of live, real-time web conferencing, Loom lets you record yourself or your screen and share it as a link with your team. It’s a simple way to walk people through a project or show someone how to navigate something on your computer—without having to schedule a time to talk.

Check out Loom. [via Loom]

5. Improve your image 📷 SEO.

You have images on your website. And if we had to guess, those images have names like IMG7642. (It’s ok, we’re guilty of this, too.) But those photos and graphics could actually be a huge SEO win for you if you took the time to tag and title them correctly. Learn how to get started with this helpful guide.

How to optimize your images. [via Search Engine Watch]

If you haven’t already, check out this week’s Intro to read about our personal productivity stack and getting the most out of the tools you use.