Crises tend to put into hard focus longstanding stress points and new vulnerabilities with which each nonprofit leader needs to grapple. Was your organization forced to adopt new practices or technologies for online communications or virtual collaboration among staff, its board and vendors, as well as donors, members, volunteers and other external partners as COVID-19 spread across the country and the world?
Chances are that the pandemic exposed some rough spots in your external and internal communications programming.
With the Centers for Disease Control And Prevention (CDC) eyeing a second wave of COVID-19 during the forthcoming fall flu season in the absence of a vaccine and treatment, below is a list to help optimize and strengthen your organization’s communications program in preparation for what lies ahead.
A crisis communications plan will help facilitate an effective response in case there is another wave of coronavirus that affects your operations and constituents. If you’ve been winging it without a plan, now is the time to get one started.
Bring together your crisis team to reflect on what’s working and what’s not. Leverage your first-hand experience from the past couple of months to identify gaps and aspects that need improvement.
Here are eight sample questions to ask:
The pandemic’s impact on individuals, families, communities and on society is so profound that there is hardly any aspect of life that has not been touched. Everyone is struggling in some way, some more so than others. Engage your internal and external community members with compassion and understanding of the challenges of the moment.
During this time, it’s important to make your messages are clear, concise and easily digestible. Provide information and analyses based on facts and analysis from reputable experts to prevent confusion and the spread of misinformation. If you make a mistake, stay calm. Own up to it, apologize and transparently identify steps you’re taking to address the situation and prevent it from happening again.
Be vigilant of narratives in words and images that perpetuate racism such as harmful stereotypes about Asians and “othering” of communities of color.
Think about when your public leadership add value to the commons, and when to step back and amplify other important voices from around the sector. The Communications Network maintains handy list of COVID-19-related resources for nonprofit communicators.
As you continue to rely on digital channels such as social media, email, website and virtual spaces to engage and deliver content to your audiences, protect your organization from cyberattacks and data breaches. Hackers are usually not benign – or as cute – as Paco the Llama. They cause tremendous headaches and can cost your organization thousands of dollars.
Make sure that your organization’s is compliant with data privacy and cybersecurity best practices such as:
The National Council of Nonprofits has a wealth of information on cybersecurity for nonprofits.
Use this time to shore up your organization’s internal and external communications to be as ready as can be for what Covid-19 brings in the months ahead. You can’t possibly anticipate everything, but you can minimize surprises (not to mention stress), save time and resources through thoughtful preparation.
Kristina (Yna) Moore has been practicing strategic communications in pursuit of transformative positive change in our communities and the world for more than 15 years. She most recently led the growth of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy’s communications and marketing program as its former senior director of communications. Her email is email@example.com
As we celebrate our 36th year, NPT remains dedicated to supplying breaking news, in-depth reporting, and special issue coverage to help nonprofit executives run their organizations more effectively.