This article, written by MissionBox staff, was based upon an article by Clara Campbell of Media Cause.
While some cities and states are opening up, COVID-19 has caused the cancellation of many public gatherings and larger private events. Cleaning supplies and face masks have become more available and for many social distancing is the new normal. Finally, we’ve begun to learn how to work at home, but it is sometimes rough going.
If your organization typically relies on in-person events and face-to-face communications to deliver information, inspire action and drive advocacy, these next few months may be extra challenging.
At Media Cause, we’ve put together some thoughts, ideas and tips to help us (and hopefully your organization) pivot toward a digital-first mobilization strategy in the time of the coronavirus—and equip your nonprofit teams to keep running smoothly, albeit virtually.
1. Check On Your People
Be aware of where your internal people are: mentally, geographically, and digitally. Who do you need to communicate with? How are they feeling? Where are they geographically? What social media platforms do they use? Do you have your own internal or constituent communication platforms or hubs that might be re-purposed to support remote work and action?
Idea: Send out a simple survey and ask your team members how they are doing and what questions they have for you and your team. This will give you valuable information and let them know you are thinking of them and considering their needs. Your goal: communicate your assurance that together we will all get through this difficult time.
2. Put Your Heads Together and Do A Brain Dump
Make a spreadsheet of your normal communications schedules (meetings, briefings, volunteer calls, planned events) and audience groups (staff, volunteer leaders, event leads, etc.).
Regardless of the collaboration and communication technology you use, have your team build a Communications Table, with each of these five components for each item:
a. Audience (and the number of people): Who, generally, is in this group and how many of them are there?
b. Event Description: What is this event?
c. Purpose: What is the purpose of this event?
d. Normal Method: How do you usually do this?
e. Requirements: What do people need to be able to accomplish?
3. Find and Fill the Gaps
Could planned in-person nonprofit events be accomplished using digital tools? How might you create stronger communications between your various audiences in this time of remote work, for example moving from phone to video chat for digital face time? What could you add to your usual repertoire of communication strategies and tools to enhance engagement and connectivity?
4. Inventory Resources, Both Human and Digital
Now that you know what your needs are, inventory the tools, platforms and spaces you already have for people to connect online. Think functionally: What tools do you have for public communications? What about group communications? Is information security a priority? Would text applications, such as WhatsApp serve a purpose? Video chats? Communication and collaboration hubs? Who is running these systems and are they as functional as possible? Do you have the technology resource people you may require? Identify your resource strengths and weaknesses and plan accordingly.
5. Help All Constituents Get "Up To Speed" on Your Nonprofit's New Virtual Tools Or Procedures
Create resourcing sheets for your various audiences. Remember, not everyone is comfortable with digital platforms and you want to fully support internal and external individuals and teams to continue doing their work or taking action.
Your resourcing sheets should equip your audiences with all of the information and directions they’ll need in order to stay connected online. An easy way to create this type of document is via Google Slides or PowerPoint, then export it and sharing it as a PDF. You can also publish informational and educational content on nonprofit virtual communication platforms.
Your resourcing content should include:
· Calendar of events/meetings
· Instructions for joining/using each platform
· Point of contact (POC) people for information regarding questions or concerns
6. Ensure That Your Audiences Have Easy Access To All Instructions and Updates
Identify project managers for each event. Make sure everyone knows who is responsible for what, when and why and establish reporting protocols. These same project managers can ensure that identified POCs are properly resourced and keep audience notifications fresh and available.
7. Consider Forming Action Groups and Collaboration Spaces
Public action groups: Consider starting a “digital action” group for your organization. Think about bringing your people together from across various movement sections and accessing a more holistic digital community.
Internal Leaders/POCs: Consider creating shared collaboration groups to check on resource allocations, learn from one another and establish new practices.
Media Cause digital mobilization experts are ready to help you think through digitizing your mobilization efforts, so please don’t hesitate to reach out and book some time to brainstorm.