Flood, fire, hacking — disaster can strike at any time, and in many different ways. You can’t prevent every disaster, but if you have a plan you can get back to work more quickly and minimize the damage to your community and your organization. Here are five tips to guide you through the process of developing a disaster recovery plan for your nonprofit.
Think Through the Scenarios. Imagine the disasters that are most likely to occur at your nonprofit or in your region. If there’s a flood, what will get wet? What happens if the power goes out? What if you can’t get into your building? Each scenario will give you an idea of how your nonprofit is vulnerable and how you’ll need to respond to that disaster.
Make Sure You Can Contact Staff. In the first minutes after a catastrophic event you want to make sure your people are accounted for and have the information they need. Keep a staff and volunteer contact list and designate a protocol for reaching out to them. If the event occurred during regular business hours, you might want to establish a meeting place or some other way to regroup and talk about next steps.
Designate Roles and Responsibilities. The first minutes or hours after a disaster can feel chaotic and confusing. Letting people know who is in charge and what they need to do can help calm everyone and will focus their energies on addressing critical needs.
Are You Confident in Your Backups? Many nonprofits take a “save it and forget it” approach to backups. Unfortunately, this means that you might not be able to restore a backup when you need it either because the backup never saved properly or you just don’t know how to do it. Practice restoring backups monthly so that you’ll be calm and ready in a crisis.
Don’t Forget Paper. If you have paper records, make sure they’re in a secure place and that you have digital copies of them. Also, think about the reverse. Your disaster plan and key instructions might be useful to have on paper, especially if your digital files are destroyed or inaccessible.