COVID-19 has changed everything, maybe not forever, but for long enough that organizations are adapting programming and communications to continue toward their mission.
As the world is stuck at home to flatten the COVID-19 curve, we’re seeing organizations innovate in order to meet the needs of their clients, supporters, and customers. Organizations that offer direct services (food and clothing distribution, etc.), in-person activities (nature walks, movie night, etc.), or educational programming (lectures, teach-ins, etc.) have found these options nearly impossible due to required physical distancing.
COVID-19 has changed everything, maybe not forever, but for long enough that organizations are adapting programming and communications to continue toward their mission. Your organization doesn’t have to start from scratch. Here are some tips from inspiring organizations who have adapted rapidly and successfully:
- Stay uplifting: There’s a lot on everyone’s plates (virus, pandemic, and toilet paper – oh my!) so focus on the positive. Keep it light on social media, in letters-to-the-editor, or anywhere else you’re communicating with your audience. Consider sharing articles on social media and in e-newsletters about stress-busting, discovering new hobbies at home, or mindfulness – even if these topics are out of your usual purview. Media outlets are searching for uplifting news pitches at the moment, as well.
- Utilize the web: It’s important to continue to communicate with your members, supporters, or fans during this pandemic. Take advantage of technology to do this and shift your events to web using Google Hangouts, Zoom, or another web meeting service. Organize a movie watch party for Twitter using a hashtag and encourage engagement. Online educational events can also be recorded and repurposed for future learning.
Pro-tip: Find time during online programming, even a meeting, for people to connect over their common interest, as many are feeling isolated right now.
- Continue services: Food pantries are offering drive-thru bags of food items to one car at a time, utilizing face masks and other protective gear. Educators are dropping off craft kits on porches and then hosting an online session for kids to put together those crafts. Where you can, continue services while limiting contact so that workers are not at risk.
- Reconsider fundraising: Many non-essential organizations have taken a break from utilizing their channels of communication to ask for donations, as to not take away from contributions needed for COVID-19 testing and research. Of course, not all organizations can afford to cease fundraising during this time of economic downturn. Similarly, advocacy organizations are taking a step back from lobbying, as legislators are focused on policy solutions to the virus.
- Photos and videos: As always, photos and videos make for compelling social media posts. But take note that if you post a photo or video from that past that does not include people following physical distancing guidelines, you will get comments from your followers about it. People will (rightfully so) want to know why your organization isn’t taking this seriously! Easy fix: Include text with the photo or video that states it’s a #flashback.
- Keep the newsletter going: If your organization hosts many in-person events and that’s what fills your e-newsletters, you might find that you’re lacking content. Listing canceled event after canceled event isn’t a good look, but don’t stop communicating with your audience. Instead, think about what else you have to offer either through the mail, online, or through drop-off/pick-up. Here’s an example from TTF Watershed Partnership, a nonprofit in Philadelphia, doing an excellent job offering their audience options to connect with nature in lieu of in-person events like birding and hikes.
Is your organization doing something amazingly inventive to adapt to COVID-19? Shoot us a line and tell us about it!