Is managing your nonprofit a bit of a challenge? Do you feel like you spend too much time reading, replying, and sending emails?
Why not take some time to clean up your inbox? Make Mary Poppins proud!
Did you know that emailing actually has negative effects on our environment? More than 10 billion emails are sent every hour worldwide. The amount of energy it takes to power all these messages is enormous!
Here are some ways you can effectively help your nonprofit's email become more sustainable and organized:
Let’s jump into how you can improve your productivity, communication, time-management, and sustinability.
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
How does emailing have a negative impact on the environment ? It is an intangible thing that doesn’t release anything toxic, right? Correct, but it is actually a huge contributor to global warming.
Remember how we said 10 billion emails are sent every hour? The amount of energy that takes is huge, and it all has to come from somewhere.
Sadly, huge data centers are working 24/7 to provide us with all the energy it takes to send emails. Within these data centers are machines that store your information which are run by coal-fired power plants.
It is therefore necessary that we take action! Nonprofits know better than anyone how important it is to be consistent in your actions and communications.
It is important to reduce consumption, not only on a personal level but on an organizational level as well.
An Alternative to Email
Let's start with the heart of your nonprofit: your team.
It is true that sending emails is one of the preferred methods of communication between team members but now that we know the harmful effects emails can have, it is worth mentioning a notable alternative.
One of the most popular (and best!) tools you will find is Slack, a kind of professional chat-room for your whole company. Slack of course is not a magical tool with no carbon footprint, but it pollutes significantly less than traditional inboxes.
Slack was designed to replace emailing within companies. You can share data and documents with your colleagues in the same space and therefore in a single copy, which considerably reduces storage space used.
At AssoConnect, we use Slack company-wide and on a daily basis. It has allowed us to reduce the number of emails we send by at least 30% and has moved mountains with our internal communication. You can create a multitude of dedicated channels to keep your messages organized from your favorite lunch spots to organizing your volunteers.
Pro-Tip: Start with as few channels as possible. Begin with you know you will need like HR, Legal, Finance, and Governance. This will allow you to have the basics, grow to create channels that you need (and will use) without having over-optimized in the beginning and polluting your account.
Slack offers a free version, we highly recommend you give it a try!
Corinne is excited to mange her nonprofit email and help save the planet at the same time!
Desaturate Your Inbox
There are also solutions to help lighten up your inbox. Sending large attachements like an Excel database, video presentation, or photo album of your last event can be complicated to send and store, not to mention energy consuming!
Fortunately, thanks to the Cloud, you can now work online and collaborate with your team in a faster and more sustainable way. You can use things like:
Google Drive: A tool used to create and share documents, spreadsheets, presentations with your team in real time. Everything is automatically saved and stored.
Dropbox: A storage and file sharing service for your nonprofit.
Tips to Sustainably and Effectively Manage Your Inbox
Sort and Filter Your Inbox
A great way to manage your inbox is to set up automatic sorting and filtering. All email providers have them!
For example, you regularly receive emails from Michelle, your treasurer. You can create a special folder named "treasury" or "finance" and her emails will automatically be filtered into this folder. The same idea applies to newsletters, advertisements, articles, etc.
Pro-Tip: Classify or delete your emails as soon as you receive them. It can also be useful to create folders like: "To be read today", "To be read within a week", "To do", "To read again" (for emails requiring a little more attention).
The more organized your inbox, the better!
We don't live in a Disney film, we know that having no unread emails at the end of the workday is a bit unrealistic.
But, we can get close! The key? Set small, attainable goals. A realistic goal is setting ten minutes at the end of your workday to filter through the rest of your emails, transfer them into the appropriate folder, and respond to anything urgent.
To avoid sending multiple emails with the same content, try using one of the tools we suggested above like Google Drive or Dropbox to share documents or spreadsheets with comments that everyone can see. It's a real time (and energy) saver.
Most of the time, not all emails need to be read immediately.
To be more efficient with your email management, we highly suggest to not work with your inbox open. Easier said than done, I know! Do your best to turn off notifications, close your Gmail tab, do whatever you need to do to focus on the task at hand and not any messages that might pop up.
Like we stated above, carve out a dedicated time in your day to treat all of the unread messages. We have found that this allows you to focus entirely on your task at hand, which is a big time saver!
People have an average of 3,495 emails in their inbox. Did you just check yours? We bet you did! Most people do not take the time to delete or archive unnecessary emails.
So why not do a little tidying up?
Start by using some of your dedicated email time. After you have gone through and read your most recent emails, use what is left to delete old ones.
If you notice a newsletters or emails you are no longer interested in or never really reading, go ahead and unsubscribe. This will clear up a huge part of your inbox and slow the flow of emails you are receiving.
Pro-Tip: Don't forget your other inboxes! If you have a spam, promotions or social folder, go through and delete everything that isn't useful. Not only can it slow down your inbox and take up unnecessary storage, it can actually contribute to your inbox anxiety.
When you are all done, maybe set yourself a little reminder to do it again in a few weeks. It is a great habit!
Sonia is ready to make new habits to help her nonprofit keep a clean inbox!
Tools to Help You Sort Your Emails
There are helpful tools out there that are built to help you sort through your emails. Here are just a few that we recommend:
Cleanfox: A free tool whose mission is to reduce your carbon footprint! It automatically sorts all of your newsletters, allowing you to unsubscribe in just a few clicks! A great way to streamline your inbox.
Mailstrom: An email cleaning platform that connects to your mailbox to scan message subjects, senders, and objects. It automatically sorts all your mail by category, which makes it simple to decide what is important and what you want to delete.
Spark: An application that prioritizes your inbox and helps reduce notifications. See your most important messages first!
There you have it! All of our tips for a spotless inbox.
Do not hesitate to share these tips with your team! We are all working towards a more sustainable future, and these are some great new practices to help us get there.
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