I am Dr. Michael St. Pierre, an Executive Director of the Catholic Campus Ministry Association. I manage a team of seven people located in seven different states here in the U.S. We use ActiveCollab to manage 100% of our projects, daily work, and long-term planning. Recently, a team member said to me, “What would we do without ActiveCollab?”
It was then that I knew I had to share our story.
A nonprofit dedicated to students
CCMA is a national nonprofit organization with members all across the United States. Their work is simply amazing, supporting college students during an increasingly complex and uncertain time. Our members will benefit to the degree that our staff is performing at a high level. Then, the students they serve will find the care they need. It’s that simple for us- if our team is excellent, our work will reflect that.
Our organization provides training programs, networking opportunities, and professional development initiatives to college-level students. Between virtual events on Zoom, regional in-person gatherings, and live training, there are a lot of details and timelines to coordinate. And, since we are a nonprofit, we rely on volunteers who serve on committees that meet regularly.
As our team is entirely remote, we have had to figure out a way to communicate without constantly interrupting one another. This has led us to design our weeks such that we respect one another’s best working hours and schedule time to meet as a team.
From onboarding to chatting: a full set of features
ActiveCollab has been a lifesaver for us in that it gives us multiple views within each project. As an example, when a new member joins the team, we have either a Full-Time Onboarding or Part-Time Onboarding project for them to complete. They can choose whether they complete this via the “Kanban” or the “List” view. There is something satisfying about moving a to-do item from left to right in the Kanban view as a project gets done.
In addition, each project has the features that we need. From Tasks to Files to Notes, each project is full of small and large packets of information that we can find at a moment’s notice through the Search function.
Finally, the Chat feature saves us from having to use another messaging app. Everything is right there in ActiveCollab, which simplifies our headspace and saves us time.
Donations are scanned and deposited into the appropriate bank accounts as they come in. From there, they are scanned and inserted into ActiveCollab, and the team member is notified for their respective follow-up.
We use the same protocols for mail that require a response. Since we know that we can @name anyone on the team, nothing gets lost, and everything can be found.
Quick conversations happen all the time via the Chat feature. As we promote an asynchronous mode of communication, these messages get responded to when each person has the time to do so.
For team members’ weekly 1×1 meetings, ActiveCollab houses the agendas and follow-up items. It’s so easy to just log in to ActiveCollab and quickly find what you need.
I think that ActiveCollab puts us at ease. Every member of the team knows what they should be working on on a given day and in a given week. The work never really ends as a nonprofit, so our tools are absolutely critical. Each one needs to be secure, simple, fun to use, and reliable. ActiveCollab certainly checks off each of those boxes. We like using it, which is not something I can say about our other tools (e.g., email).
I like to think that our team was quite productive before ActiveCollab, but it’s certainly improved since we started using it as our daily driver. There has never been a moment when a team member said, “I wish ActiveCollab could do X”. It can do everything we need it to, keeping our projects and processes organized.
I would say that ActiveCollab gives us one place to begin our days rather than having to check 3-4 different apps. That saves us time and, most importantly, energy.
Growing with ActiveCollab
We are just starting to use five-week work blocks. This is unheard of for nonprofit teams, and we’ve taken the best teaching available from Michael Sliwinski, David Allen, and Jason Fried in order to make this process happen. In that way, we hope to achieve mastery as we work through each block during the year.
The ultimate skill for nonprofit teams is in the definition of work. Since you can do anything, getting clear on what you’ll do and choose not to do is where the gold is.
Related to the association of professionals we serve, we want to grow our services to make their work easier on campus. We like to say that we aspire to save them time and cut down on their stress.
In many ways, we feel as if we are just getting started as there is so much ground to cover. There are over 3,000 four-year colleges in the U.S., so our work has plenty of room to grow. I’m glad that ActiveCollab is there with us along the way.