Once again, it’s wildfire season in California. Recent environmental tragedies in Santa Barbara County and throughout the nation have revealed the critical need for everyone, even nonprofits, to have a disaster plan.
Nonprofits often occupy a key role in disaster response. Nonprofits fill the gaps left by federal programs by providing shelter, food, transportation, and health services during times of great need. However, if your organization does not typically provide relief services, it may lack the preparations needed to sustain organizational health and effectiveness during a disaster. It pays to take a proactive approach to emergency preparedness.
Start with these simple steps:
1. Let your mission be your guide. Outline why and how a disaster plan is relevant to your organization, its mission, and the people you serve. To get started, take the time to assess your organizational values, vulnerabilities, and risks. You can utilize resources like this mission statement worksheet by Emergency Network Los Angeles to guide you through the assessment and planning process.
2. Create an emergency communication plan. Create a “phone tree” that includes email, landline, and cell phone numbers for all staff members, board members, and key volunteers. Distribute it to your team in both digital and paper copies. Assign a key person to update program changes and announcements on your organization’s voicemail, website, and social media.
3. Protect your data. Store crucial nonprofit hard copy documents in a waterproof safe or deposit box. Back up documents to a cloud-based storage solution. Get in touch with Jody at Spokes to learn about My Board Packet, a secure online system to store and file your corporate documents, financials, policies, and track electronic voting.
Whether it’s fire, flood, or landslide, nonprofits have a critical responsibility to protect their informational assets as well as their ability to function during and following an emergency. Our society depends on nonprofits to maintain services and provide for otherwise unmet needs. By following these three simple steps, you have created the start of a plan that shows your constituents, donors, and community that your organization is resilient and always ready to serve.