Tools to plan for that next disaster

In April 2021, my colleague Margaret Meps Schulte and I released a new nonprofit resource: Disaster Planning for Nonprofits. Sponsored in Washington State by the Non Profit Insurance Program (NPIP), Disaster Planning outlines what nonprofit people need to know to get ready for the next wildfire, earthquake, tsunami, or whatever may be coming your way. We know the climate change is impacting our communities in new ways, and we created this resource to help nonprofits get ready.

Disaster Planning is light on information by design. Information is not typically what holds people back from disaster planning. Rather, it is the feeling of overwhelm, the dispersed leadership where no one feels ownership of the challenge, and a lack of tools to use in data gathering and problem solving. You know you need to write everything down, gather key documents, and put all of it in a central place. Getting started is what can be so hard. With Disaster Planning, you have checklists and downloadable, formatted excel worksheets into which to type your various inventories of stuff, people, and partnerships.

Another key element in disaster planning is the Continuity of Operations Plan, sometimes referred to as a COOP. COOP-building is really just running through scenarios and documenting what you will do so everyone knows. This resource provides three ways to approach what might happen. First, we lay out a way to plan for what you will do in the immediate, short-term, and long-term aftermath of a disaster. This is about how you will serve your mission. Second, we share a method to prioritize and manage your key tasks, such as payroll, bill-paying, communications, etc. This is all about the back-end functions of your office. Third, we invite you to consider how you will integrate a regional understanding into your planning. A tsunami at the coast, for example, will impact inland food banks, just as a wildfire or hurricane in a rural area will impact roads and food systems.

We believe effective learning design can help nonprofits thrive. Disaster Planning for Nonprofits is our latest project to combine what we know about behavior change and taking action with relevant nonprofit topics. Let us know what you think!

We will be launching Disaster Planning for Nonprofits at the Central Washington Conference for the Greater Good from April 27-30, 2021. Disaster Planning for Nonprofits is sponsored in Washington State and for its members by NPIP, the Non Profit Insurance Program. If you would like to learn more about how to license Disaster Planning in your state or about the curriculum design process behind it, contact Nancy Bacon.

Published by Nancy

I work at the intersection of learning, nonprofits, and leadership. I am a teacher, instructional designer, and nonprofit person who has worn every hat possible. I regular write, speak, and consult on learning strategy, design, and leadership.

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