Our world is in uncharted territory. How we collectively respond during this time of crisis will be a factor in determining where we are on the other side of it. While it is important to be socially distant, it is also important to be engaged. Below are some tips from The Lapin Group on how nonprofits can stay connected and best respond to the COVID-19 crisis.
Communicate Clearly: Determine a clear communications plan. Identify who messaging will be coming from and be sure to communicate quickly, clearly and with all the facts when decisions are made. This includes links to government guidance and directives, organizational schedule changes, cancellations and other important need to know information. Share all fact-based information that will keep your community safe.
Empathize: Be there. In this time of crisis, we are all in it together. It will be important for your members, supporters and other stakeholders to be reassured that they are not alone in this challenging time. You are there for them, even if it is just to listen, and find ways to serve them that are easy and meaningful. This will position you for more seamless re-engagement when the time is right. For instance, if you had scheduled meetings with current or prospective donors, ask if they are open to still meeting virtually. Sure, the conversation may end up being different than initially anticipated – and not deal with fundraising, but it is an opportunity to connect with others and share. They will be there when you need them.
Educate and Involve Leaders and Donors: Find ways to serve your leaders and donors during this period, without asking for money. This is a time for you to give to them; it will pay off. Use Zoom and other online tools to provide high level briefings and educational opportunities and create an open door for questions and answers. If there is a fundraising campaign underway, even if asking is temporarily “on hold,” keep people up to date and reinforce their value as leaders and friends, leaving money to a later date.
Log On: Wherever possible – go digital! The global community is communicating through this experience, and in 2020, we are fortunate that we can continue to be social, even while we are physically isolated. Go live on social media and allow for communal experiences through comments and sharing. Create a Facebook group if you don’t already have one. Ask questions that will prompt responses in comments and continue the conversation. Ask your organizational community to provide content to share on your page. Give them the platform to go live to your community of followers and share their expertise! This will keep your community connected, while still practicing social distancing and keeping everyone safe and healthy (and creative!).
Support: Your constituents may need varied types of support over the coming weeks. This may include local elderly members who are quarantined and need food delivered. It may be checking in on folks – Board members, donors, volunteers, staff – who you know are home-bound or ailing, aside from coronavirus.
Appreciate: Most of all, thank your stakeholders for their continued support during this (hopefully temporary) time of crisis. Let them know how much you appreciate their leadership and their connection to your organization. For the broader community, thank them for their desire to communicate, share their experience, and reach out to you when things are challenging.
At TLG, we hope you are all faring well and staying healthy. If you need anything or have any questions about how best to manage the COVID-19 crisis, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We are here for you.