Last week we released an article outlining a list of software that can make working from home as painless as possible. The goal of that blog, and all others we post, is to share our insights to hopefully provide value for nonprofits. A few days after writing the post, I started thinking about organizations like Habitat for Humanity and the Red Cross. Zoom doesn’t seem very helpful if you’re trying to collect blood donations or construct new homes.
So, how can organizations intertwined with human contact use online tools to stay productive? First and foremost, it’s understandable that the top priority of most nonprofits right now is to simply get by without shutting down. A study conducted by one of our former interns shined a light on the tight budgets nonprofits operate on under normal conditions. Factor in a global pandemic and the challenge of getting-by becomes even harder. We will publish a blog in the near future that will explore some potential band-aids that nonprofits may be able to use to stay afloat. Nonetheless, I think a common theme that lures people into the nonprofit sector is a desire to have their career and their passion work in harmony. Stressing over financials is likely not meeting that goal. Amidst the chaos, stay productive by focusing attention on sharing your mission through marketing and engagement.
Social media use is significantly higher than normal right now, according to aaaa.org, Instagram had a 22% increase in usage from February to March. Additionally, a poll conducted before the enactment of social distancing found that 66% of people will spend more time on social media if they are confined to their homes.
This is a great opportunity, take advantage of it! Remember, donors say that social media is the communication tool that inspires them the most to give. For more on this, read our social media strategy guide for nonprofits. Take advantage of the influx of people online by increasing your social media presence. Post about your financial struggles discussed earlier and remind them of how your nonprofit makes a difference. Post about your plans for when this is all over. Encourage your volunteers to stay positive as social distancing comes with psychological fallout. What’s important is staying relevant within your community. Don’t let your organization be forgotten!
Maybe you feel like you’re posting too much? Don’t hesitate to create content for the future. There are plenty of free tools available that allow you to schedule future posts. Free up precious post-quarantine time by planning your social media content in advance!
Volunteer engagement is paramount to operating a successful nonprofit. Engaging your volunteers keeps them motivated to do better work and keep coming back. Don’t let your volunteers forget about you!
Take advantage of this time to interact with your network. This could be as simple as calling or emailing your donors and volunteers to thank them (also a great social distancing safe way to volunteer). Or, if there are some managerial challenges you’re facing, send an email requesting assistance. You never know who may be a financial, tech, or marketing guru. They are likely excited to show off their expertise and help guide you through new challenges.
Why not feed two birds with one cone? Have your volunteers help out with your social media content. Ask some of your volunteers to record videos about what the organization means to them and why they volunteer. You can use some videos now, and save the rest for future volunteer recruiting or fundraising. Additionally, your volunteers will probably be excited to be featured on your page and send the post to their friends.
Additionally, get creative and find niche-specific methods to engage your volunteers. For example, if you are in the mentorship space, ask if anyone would be able to coordinate video calls between mentors and mentees. Maybe you manage a food pantry, ask your volunteers with licenses to deliver packages of groceries to previous meal-recipients as well as elderly folks who may be afraid to leave their homes. With enough thought, you can slightly pivot your usual operations to engage your volunteers and continue to make a difference.
Finally, this article is by no means a comprehensive list of everything you can work on remotely. The challenges and limitations nonprofits are facing are unique to each individual organization. In turn, the optimal use of time for one organization, could be frivolous to another. Our goal in providing examples of potential projects is to get nonprofit executives and managers asking themselves what their organization can do to make the most of this time spent under quarantine. We believe that it’s quite a lot.