Disaster often strikes when least expected, so it's important for nonprofits to have relief effort plans in place well before they're needed. There are a few simple steps to ensure you and your organization are ready to spring into action.
Emergency and disaster situations are stressful and overwhelming, but launching a digital fundraising campaign for relief efforts doesn’t have to be. All you need are a few templates, a point person, and a plan to inform your network - from donors to volunteers to employees - about relief efforts, donation or volunteer opportunities, available resources, etc. Here are five steps you can take now to be ready when disaster strikes.
One of the easiest things you can do is have templates in place that can easily be edited for any situation. You should have both text and image templates for social media posts, email blasts, blog posts, website pop ups, and text messages.
Make sure each template is branded for your organization and includes text placeholders that can be filled in with event-specific information (landing page URL, #hashtag, etc.).
Bonus tip: Create a donation landing page template and link to it in every text, email, blog post, social post, etc.
Designate a Point Person
Emergency situations can cause panic, so it’s crucial to designate a point person who’s calm and has strong decision making skills. While this person doesn’t have to implement every strategy on their own, they should be able to delegate appropriately and make sure the campaign is launched in a timely manner.
Bonus tip: Designate a back-up person, just in case.
Set a Timeline
In any emergency or disaster situation, every second counts. Once you have your templates created, your point person (and back up) should have a timeline in place for when each tool will be utilized. The biggest reach with the least amount of effort is texting, followed by email. These two tools should be first on your ‘hit list’, followed by social media posts on every active network (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc.). Mobilizing your donors and volunteers immediately following a disaster is key. They’ll see your organization as an expert resource and turn to you for information and updates.
Once your initial push is done and you have the attention of your network, it’s time to focus on creating your blog post, website pop up, and follow-up emails, texts, and social posts.
Test Your Team
Have you ever seen that episode of Parks and Recreation where the Indiana Department of Preparedness comes to Pawnee to test the city’s emergency response?
Conducting a similar test in your organization will help you find weak spots, production roadblocks, etc. and refine the process until it’s seamless. Emergency response is hardly seamless in real life, but practicing and internalizing the process can reduce friction when disaster strikes.
Bonus tip: Do a quarterly or biannual emergency drill if you can. This will keep the process fresh on everyone’s mind and help train any new staff or volunteers.
Offer Free Resources
Not only is it important for your organization to be ready for disaster, but it’s important for members of your community to be ready. Whether you create your own resources or simply provide links to something already created, you can help people in your community feel more prepared. Here are a few examples:
- Family Emergency Plan (Source: American Red Cross)
- Pet Emergency Kit Checklist (Source: New Leash on Life)
- Home Evacuation Checklist (Source: HouseLogic.com)
- Emergency Preparedness Kit Checklist (Source: C-10 Research & Education Foundation)
Whatever the emergency, there’s a checklist or planning guide out there.
Nonprofits Are Crucial To Disaster Relief
While FEMA and other government organizations provide disaster relief, there’s only so much they can do, especially on a small scale. Being prepared to mobilize your community of donors and volunteers to help at a local level is invaluable to the people affected by disaster. Create your templates, designate your point person, make a timeline, test your team, offer resources, and be there for those in need.
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