There are a lot of ways to describe this year. For us here at Crisis Text Line, this was a year of infrastructure. Of scaling up so that we can better support those who are struggling. We expanded internationally, building platforms for our first full international launch in Canada, soft launch in the UK, and approval of new partners in Ireland and Australia.
With this growth came new challenges and new opportunities to learn. This year, we shared some of our learnings in an event called Successfest, a biannual in-office celebration meant to celebrate the big wins that propelled us forward as a company. The event is the twin to Failfest, which celebrates some of our biggest “fails” and what we’ve learned from them.
Here are five things we learned as an organization in 2018 that we hope can inspire empathy and innovation here at Crisis Text Line and in other social good organizations.
Clarity is key.
We’ve known for a long time that two-thirds of our conversations occur at night. And yet in our Crisis Counselor application, we weren’t asking about nighttime availability. A few months ago, we made some changes. We now ask people to explicitly outline how they could incorporate nighttime conversations into their lives. The impact? A 48% faster application completion rate and 21% training completion rate. Lesson? Be clear! When people know what you need, they’ll be more likely to give you what you want.
Speaking of asking for what we need: oh hey, we’re looking for night time Crisis Counselors. Check out our volunteer page to become one of our empathy MVPs.
Give people a reason to keep coming back.
The best way to keep people involved with your mission is to reward them. Show them how much you appreciate them. In order to do this, we created Levels. They’re a huge source of pride for our Crisis Counselors, with each level corresponding to a certain number of conversations taken.
Levels are a form of thanking our Crisis Counselors. Its an acknowledgment of amazing work completed. Personal milestones. They are self-paced, transparent, and available to everyone–just like levels of a game. We found that adding more levels and more transparency has increased retention among our newer Crisis Counselors by 42%.
Few things are more fulfilling than seeing a project carried out from start to finish. However, if something isn’t working, switch it up. Moving in a new direction–or dropping a project completely–is not a failure, it’s learning. And it’s smart. In December we canceled a major initiative that we’d spent months planning. It was a hard decision–and the right move. We were able to recognize that it didn’t fit into what we were doing.
Real-time metrics to monitor the impact of decisions and daily health can help you make smart decisions–like a Fitbit counting your steps, and inspiring you to change your mind and take the stairs. Become comfortable with changing direction and thinking of it as opportunity seized.
Turn shortcomings into strengths.
You may not know how to do something. You might never have experienced it before. And yet that doesn’t mean that you can’t help. Your lack of knowledge may mean that you bring a unique perspective! It means every idea is new to you—yay! This is why having different people with different skill sets provides a wide array of perspectives. Questioning the accepted way of doing things is critical to figuring out the best way to do it, and sometimes that means thinking outside of the box.
We like have fresh faces and fresh ideas in the mix. Experience is awesome too. And combining them is kind of like putting chocolate and peanut butter together–two amazing things that taste so much better together.
Add personality to everything.
A lot of the work that we do here is serious. Mental health, suicide, crisis intervention; it would be easy for us to be solemn. We make a very conscious effort to add personality to every aspect of the organization. Whether it’s our products, communications, or visuals design, it’s crucial that our service feels friendly and familiar. We seek JOY. We like cute. And we appreciate laughter.
Find your organization’s personality, and stick to it.
Thanks to all of our friends, Crisis Counselors, and staff for supporting us this year. We’re excited to keep breaking boundaries in 2019!
Ready to join our team? Apply to be a Crisis Counselor and start the new year supporting those in crisis.