If you do not have a plan in place, disasters can ruin a nonprofit. If you're a nonprofit leader who's in this boat, we're here to help. Creating an emergency plan for your nonprofit is very manageable when you follow a few easy steps.
1. Brainstorm the possibilities.
As a nonprofit leader, you need to prepare for many types of disasters. Here are some situations that you should consider when planning for emergencies.
- mysterious mail
- runaway children
- bomb threats
- lock downs
- power outages
2. Prepare emergency safety plans.
Emergency safety plans are comprised of three parts: immediate health risks, administration communication, and community outreach.
Immediate health risks
Safety comes first! During orientation, you should make sure that all of your members are well aware of the safety plans. Formulate a specific plan for each event described above. Include any other disasters which may be pertinent to your nonprofit.
For each emergency safety plan, clearly mark escape routes and meeting places if applicable. Make sure that everyone has access to necessary phone numbers and knows how to contact the rest of the group. Choose meeting places that are a safe distance away from the disaster.
If your nonprofit works with visitors, make sure they are trained in disaster safety as well. It's your job to keep everyone safe! To ensure that everyone is prepared, run scheduled drills for each type of disaster and monitor the response. This is your time to make improvements and fix any issues that arise.
In times of disaster, it's imperative that your administration has a well-oiled communication plan in place. Here are some steps you can take to make sure that your team can effectively communicate.
1. Create a administration and staff directory.
List multiple communication methods and phone numbers for each individual. InitLive's mobile app provides administration direct access to all their volunteers contact information as well as the ability to send discrete messages through the app.
2. Designate primary and secondary communication channels.
Will you send notifications by phone, email, text, or another method? Ensure that everyone is on the same page. If you have a volunteer communication and management app that should be your primary channel of communication with staff to avoid any confusion.
3. Have clear and open communications with your staff about all safety issues.
Your staff members know your nonprofit better than anyone else. They're experts in their areas. Listen to all ideas. Open two way communication can save lives and help you better respond to changing conditions.
4. Open channels with regulatory and governmental authorities. Heed all warnings and guidelines.
Always stay abreast of how the community and local government agencies respond when disaster strikes. Implement any recommendations and requests for your type of organization. Keep local authorities informed of your needs. Remember, your response could affect other members of the community.
Communicate your disaster responses with all community members who may be affected. Work with local news agencies and online forums.
3. Prepare your nonprofit for life after the disaster
As Gary Allan says, every storm runs out of rain. Design a plan for employees to return to work when it's safe. If possible, make sure that your team has access to necessary documents.
Set up online communications like Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, Google Drive, etc. so that work can continue if possible. Plan ahead and schedule any payments so that you won't have to worry about the monotony of daily life in stressful times.
Here is a template to help yo get started!