Tight budgets, minimal resources, outdated technology—these are just a few things typically associated with nonprofits. With fewer resources, it’s crucial for nonprofits to embrace technology so they can help those they serve to further their missions more effectively. NTEN, a nonprofit itself, does just that by empowering nonprofits to use technology.
As is common with many nonprofits, NTEN’s team is small but mighty. Based in Portland with several remote employees, they produce an annual conference and countless resources for their 50,000+ members to learn about and adopt the best technology. At the helm of the organization sits Amy Sample Ward, NTEN’s CEO.
As the organization grew, the team wanted more transparency around responsibilities, deadlines, and how to contribute to a project. And with several initiatives in flight at once, small but critical steps were falling through the cracks due to information silos. Given their role as a technology leader, the NTEN team knew there were tools that could help them work more effectively, so they decided to lead by example and find a tool that would help them organize everything in one place.
Several members of Amy’s team had tried different work management tools in the past, but they decided it was time to centralize everything in one platform. For Amy, the tools they had tried didn’t provide the capabilities they needed.
After evaluating a few tools, Amy and her team decided that Asana provided the functionality they needed. It was able to show them how different pieces of work are connected—tasks in multiple projects, dependencies, and due dates, for example. It also allowed them to communicate about the work with comments, conversations, and project status instead of needing another tool. Keeping communication connected to the work helped make responsibilities clear and reduced noise. Finally, it provided the ability to customize privacy settings for sensitive work.
“I remember learning about the nonprofit discount and thinking, ‘We can unlock all of this functionality and stay within our budget—we’re doing this.'”
For Amy, who is all too familiar with the lack of resources nonprofits experience, the deciding factor to adopt Asana was the nonprofit programs. With a 50% discount and access to the Asana Advisors Program, Amy and her team now operate on the Asana Business plan and use features like forms, Portfolios, and Workload. With these features, they streamline work intake, can see how initiatives are progressing, and are able to better manage their ever-precious resources.
With so much experience helping nonprofits roll out new technology, NTEN took a very methodical approach to implementing Asana. They started with a pilot of one team and one project, and then expanded to include more projects and team members. The early set of users then trained their teammates as they began to collaborate on projects and manage their work in Asana.
“Our onboarding method helped make it feel like people were being included rather than forced to use the tool.”
With the structure and conventions for managing work in Asana established, getting the rest of the organization on board was easy. NTEN used project templates to help new users see the immediate benefit of Asana. With the visual aid that templates provide, people could see how to structure and manage their work, making it instantly obvious how Asana would make their day-to-day work easier. This helped speed up the time it took to get the whole team on board.
Now NTEN uses project templates to plan every one of their weekly courses, like Digital Literacy and Accessibility and The Anatomy of a Website Redesign, so they don’t miss critical steps and anyone can jump in to help if a teammate is out of the office. Not only does this reduce the stress for the team, it also helps them deliver even better content and resources in each course.
“With Asana, we're no longer wasting time trying to remember what we need to do.”
The NTEN team also uses Asana to plan their annual conference, NTC, which welcomes over 2,400 attendees from nonprofits looking for new ways to spark change with technology. By managing all NTC tasks in a master project, they can see everything on a timeline and track milestones to ensure critical steps are being completed on time. This has enabled the team to provide a better conference experience, like offering a photo booth or enhancing the quality of their Ignite presentations, to its members since they aren’t scrambling at the last minute and can instead focus on delighting their attendees.
Finally, NTEN is streamlining their creative request process to ensure their design team gets the information they need up front before kicking off the design and production process. This will help the creative team deliver better assets faster because they have clarity around requests and visibility into the status of each one.
With more structure and visibility into everyone’s work, NTEN has not only improved their processes, but also the team itself. They now have more time for creative thinking because responsibilities and next steps are clear, and everyone feels they have the skills to manage their projects successfully. Additionally, each teammate is now able to see how their work—no matter how small it may seem—contributes to larger initiatives and the success of the organization.
“Asana has helped everyone on the team feel confident in their ability to successfully manage their projects from start to finish.”
With Asana, NTEN is able to provide world-class support to their members and the nonprofit community—helping them get one step closer to both embodying and achieving their mission.
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