The rise of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 has affected the global community and commerce, and this impact has made no concessions for the not for profit sector. On the American front, an analyst has stated that COVID-19 could mean extinction for many charities, however there is no cause for panic as the Australian Government has announced stimulus packages for charities and not for profits. With public gatherings cancelled and people staying at home for health and safety, it is critical to ensure your NFP organisation uses the digital space to reach communities that you aid, and keep your current and new audiences up to date with your efforts in dealing with this worldwide pandemic.
Below is a brief list of actionable steps in using your digital platforms more effectively during the COVID-19 pandemic. As events progress, we will be updating this list with further suggestions to help your not for profit.
1. Keep Your Staff & Volunteers Safe
This first point is not advice specifically for digital platforms, but more essential health and safety points to keep in mind. Your staff and volunteers are the heartbeat of your NFP organisation, so please follow current Australian Government health and safety measures during times of operation.
- Enforce social distancing: the virus spreads rapidly and has an incubation period where the affected may not know they are infected. Your staff and volunteers have lives outside of work and may come into contact with coronavirus, so stringently enforce social distancing and suggest your staff do the same outside of work hours.
- Provide hand sanitiser and face masks: keep your operations hygienic as possible to prevent the spread of the disease. Your staff may have been stung by supermarket hoarders and cannot access hand sanitiser or face masks, where possible attempt to source these and provide it for them.
- Allow staff and volunteers to work from home: if it’s not essential to have your staff or volunteer on site during this period, have them work remotely. Set up easy lines of communications with your team members, through tools like Slack which allows for team chat and sharing of information, and use Skype or Google Hangouts for screen sharing and meetings.
2. Keep Your Audience, Beneficiaries & Stakeholders Updated
It’s key to let those who are in need of your services know how to reach you during this time. Make use of your current digital platforms to let your audience know how your NFP will operate during this time, and how to seek aid from you (or elsewhere) where possible.
- Where possible, create key messaging to let those you assist know how you can help them during this crisis.
- Update your website banners with information on your organisation’s response to COVID-19.
- Create a COVID-19 specific page on your website that details how it has affected your organisation, how you intend to operate, and timelines on potential delays and disruptions in services. Make a call-out banner or pop-up to draw user attention to this information.
- Run all relevant updates through social media.
- Use print media if your target audience does not use digital platforms, by creating flyers and signage on your COVID-19 response.
- Utilise your email marketing lists to inform and update your supporters and the communities you help with your COVID-19 response, and more importantly how you intend to operate.
- Brief online videos can update your audience quickly on any developments with your NFP organisation. Upload media to YouTube or simply broadcast messages onto Facebook Live
- Keep your beneficiaries, stakeholders and those who contribute to your NFP updated through emails, video updates, letters and video chat meetings.
3. Focus Fundraising & Donation Efforts Through Online Gateways
Your generous donors and supporters would like your work to continue throughout this crisis and beyond, so allow for simple methods for them to contribute at home due to isolation and lockdowns. It’s important to notify your support network that their contributions are more crucial than ever during this period for the sustained operation of your not for profit. If you are not signed up for online fundraising or donations, read about Payment Processing for Non Profits.
4. Increase Your Output On Social Media Platforms
Due to lockdowns and restrictions on public gatherings, a huge number of people are constantly online at home, consequently pushing the limits of what online servers can handle. Even services like Netflix and YouTube have decreased stream quality to cater for increased traffic! It is integral to ramp up your social media output as Instagram and Facebook posts will be viewed more than ever, with all demographics seeking information and media in this digital space.
Some suggestions for your NFP social media strategy during this time include:
- Post breaking/live updates where possible, and scheduling your regular posts so you can remain active on social media platforms 24 hours a day. Some free social media scheduling tools include Later and Buffer.
- Inspire and encourage your audience by posting messages and images of hope and unity. During this bleak time, it’s important to remain alert yet positive, which will benefit everyone, not just your supporters and those who seek your aid. This can help you reach wider audiences, both supporters and those in need, and increase familiarity with your not for profit during the coronavirus epidemic and when the crisis ends.
- Gather free online resources and templates for social media where you can, to decrease design time and increase output. If you have it, review your NFP’s photo libraries for relevant post topics – simple photo posts with informational captions are helpful!
5. Continue Running Live Events Through Online Streaming Platforms
The Government ban on non-essential gatherings during COVID-19 has halted any live not for profit events, especially for places of worship. By live streaming or pre-recording key speakers (or the entire event itself), you can push these recordings to your website or social media platforms – so your audience can virtually attend while adhering to the lockdown. As mentioned previously, Facebook Live is a good option, as well as Twitch, a popular streaming service for gamers – both can encourage interactions between you and your audience.
The idea of video production may be daunting, but you can create pre-recorded or streamable online events on a budget. Although catering to Australian Churches, this article on how to Pre-record Your Event With A Smartphone, and details all the technical gear and process to get you started.
Getting your NFP’s live events stream-ready will be beneficial once the coronavirus restrictions are relaxed, as you will be able to provide another avenue to reach your audiences and those in need.
If You Require Further Strategy Or Assistance
It may be uncharted waters for your not for profit at this current time. If you’re finding difficulty navigating the digital terrain, or would like further strategy and advice with how to keep your operation consistent during the COVID-19 pandemic, get in touch with one of our digital specialists and we’ll help you where we can, or at least point you in the right direction.
Above all, please keep yourself and your families safe during this time. Stay at home where possible and check in with your friends and loved ones who may be at risk of contracting this virus.