It’s not easy being a teen — surrounded by messages that the world is going wrong coupled with feeling powerless at the insurmountable effort to fight it. Countering that, DoSomething.org is a unique not-for-profit organization that lives up to its namesake and activates young people to take social action. With over 4.3 million young members in 130 countries participating in volunteer campaigns, DoSomething.org members are making big positive impacts on the world through their collective power. One of their most popular campaigns, Teens for Jeans has collected 5 million pairs of jeans to date, providing jeans to nearly 1000 organizations across the US and Canada serving young people experiencing homelessness.
Slack has turned out to be really good for cross-team communication.
The team behind DoSomething.org is also deeply into Slack. So deep that the 54 members of their team have sent over 700,000 messages in the last six months alone. You might wonder how they organize and make sense of all that activity.
As a nonprofit group coordinating millions of members around the globe, the internal team at DoSomething.org takes Slack channel organization just as seriously as their initiatives. There are a range of channels for every campaign they run, along with general campaign channels to brainstorm new ideas and touch base with everyone working on various projects. There are also channels dedicated to their mobile platform, keeping DoSomething's SMS service up and running which is the primary way young volunteers collaborate on campaigns.
On the day-to-day end of project management, Slack is a godsend.
Bots that automate day-to-day tasks play a big role on DoSomething.org’s team as well. As their developers work in code, Slack integrations with services such as Github, Jenkins, and Heroku report updates, reviews, and deploy new versions of their apps to servers automatically. They’ve customized Slackbot to respond to specific commands with dozens of responses and built their own custom bot they call George, which automates many tasks around continuous integration. Most importantly, the team can keep a close watch on all their servers and services because monitoring apps like New Relic integrate with Slack and can alert and report any problems directly to the team.
The impact of Slack on the DoSomething.org team is significant. Software Engineer Joe Kent jokes that the office seems ten times quieter than before they took up Slack, as everyone types away, being productive instead of spending time in meetings. While most of their team is in New York City, they work on projects with several outside developers and contractors. Three of their engineers work remotely (one in Europe, one in Atlanta, one in SF) and NYC-based staff occasionally work from home; but everyone stays connected seamlessly in Slack. Campaign Manager Adam Garner finds Slack lets him spot and manage any technical problems happening in campaigns and rapidly find the right person to help provide a fix, thanks to visibility among the team.
Slack has consolidated everyone in one space in a really useful way, which helps us better accomplish our mission.
Slack also aids their office culture, with channels in their team devoted to non-work subjects. They have channels for all their summer interns to stay in touch, channels for all sorts of hobbies, and even a few channels set aside to discuss more serious cultural subjects like feminism. And of course, they have a few channels devoted to Giphy and sharing the latest internet memes with one another. Thanks to their bot, George, Slack has transformed how they coordinate lunch, since George can post a webcam image of the Shake Shack burger line right outside their office when asked.
DoSomething.org is teaching young people that they have power in numbers when working together to change the world. Behind all their volunteer campaigns, there’s a tremendous amount of work and discussion required to coordinate marketing, engineering, design, and production teams, and all of that takes place in Slack.