How Nonprofits Can Build Community at a Social Distance | npENGAGE

How Social Good Organizations Can Build Community at a Social Distance

By on Mar 20, 2020

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engaging nonprofit supporters during coronavirus

I love seeing all the creative ways people are coming together virtually right now when coming together physically is not recommended because of the COVID-19 pandemic. My neighborhood community is running errands and doing grocery shopping for those at high risk, and others are sharing jokes and creative parenting ideas.

As a social good organization, how are you building community? Many of you are providing frontline support for impacted people with meals, financial help, and other vital services. (Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your work!) Many others are working toward your amazing missions while trying to connect with your supporters in this new social distancing environment.

Several people have reached out to me asking for ideas on how they can connect with their supporters from a safe social distance. Here are some ideas on how to build your social good community and stay united:

  • Caring calls: Maybe your volunteers or staff are asking for things to do while they are home. Why not use this time to call your supporters and say thank you for being a supporter? You can also let your supporters know you’re thinking of them. If you have services that may help them, this is a great opportunity to remind them.
  • Email campaign: Send a check-in or a we are all in this together email or series to your supporters. Maybe express your own or your staff’s personal experiences with juggling kids and work. This is a great way to share a link to your virtual tour, educational videos, or other resources, as well as reminding supporters of the importance of your mission and your continued needs for support.
  • Social media resources: In this time, consider sharing how your organization is handling the changes. Let your supporters know that you’re there and you have services that may help them. Consider providing links to some helpful resources you have found (but remember to keep your mission in mind, and try to tie everything back to it if possible). Social media is also a great way to have a livestream, a coloring contest, or even a virtual challenge to solve a mystery. Not only will this draw people into a discussion, but the responses of others can help your organization build communities between your supporters, too.
  • Website updates: You may wonder why you need anything about COVID-19 on your webpage. Or you may already have information due to the nature of your social good services. Providing quick links to trusted resources or information about your staffing and services can be helpful.

With every communication, spend a little extra time thinking through and reviewing your tone, audience, and goal. We are all learning through this new situation together, and we want to show appreciation to our supporter communities. Give a shout-out to supporters who are adjusting to a completely different lifestyle. They may need a friendly connection.

And remember, don’t start out your email or communications with an Our response to… line. In the social good space, our supporters are our heroes. Instead, think of ways to connect by saying we are here and thankful for you.

Looking for more ideas for how to virtually connect with your supporters? You may find that now is a good time to explore training and professional development opportunities to help you have a bigger impact. Your organization can learn more about using social media and technology to tell your story in Blackbaud University’s Organizational Best Practices Social Media and Marketing and Multimedia Storytelling workshops.

 

To help the social good community prepare for and respond to any impacts of the COVID-19 coronavirus, Blackbaud has also compiled a list of resources from across the sector that may be useful. Visit www.blackbaud.com/covid-19 for more information.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Melissa is a principal instructional designer with more than 20 years of experience in the nonprofit, corporate training, business management, marketing, and university spheres. Currently, she creates interactive, outcome-based classes and workshops with a focus on people, process, and technology.

Melissa’s education, nonprofit, and business background provides a unique view of the overall training curriculum and the tiny details that make educational experiences remarkable. Her passions revolve around family, exquisite training design, immersive outcome-focused trainings, and project management.

Melissa earned her MBA at Western Michigan University.

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