We talked about how to improve fundraising communication recently. Let's review some ideas for how you can communicate well to everyone you need to during a crisis—or even when life goes back to normal—for that matter. Here 10 ideas for communicating well during a crisis:
1. Over communication
I truly believe that over-communicating is key. Would you rather someone say, “Why didn’t you tell me?”, or “Ok, I have enough information?”. I for one will take the latter. Granted there are certain situations where information must come out at its rightful time and place, but communicate until you are blue in the face and people are asking you to stop telling them.
2. Break your communication list down
Who needs to know what? Staff, team leaders, participants, parents, leaders, donors, partners, lodging, transportation. Take a moment a create a list of who exactly needs to know what.
3. Communication is two way
Give people space to ask questions. Whether that's through social media, responding to email, or just making phone calls, allow space for people to ask.
4. Behind the scenes
Don’t be afraid to give them insight behind the curtain. I have found a lot of questions come from a lack of context or communication. What will hurt from letting them know your process? I mean really, are any of us keeping presidential-size secrets that people cannot know? Take a breath and give the people what they want!
5. Prioritize your communication list
There is nothing worse than a participant knowing something before a team leader. Enough said.
6. Create a sample email (then test it)
Write out your email. Give it a proofread. Now read it again. Now send it to your team to proofread. Now send it to yourself. Ok, you’re all set! Hit send and let the questions roll in, just kidding, you’ve communicated so well nobody will have any questions.
7. Don't forget donors
This is a very important group. Here are a couple of approaches to this; it all depends on how your organization handles donations and participants. First of all, thank them. This is so important—but can be forgotten in the chaos. Second, let them know your policy for donations whether the money will remain with the participant until they can go, or your own policy regarding funds when a short-trip is cancelled. This might include letting them know the IRS policy on donations and refunds.
8. What’s next?!
Let them know how you will be monitoring the situation, who you are listening to, and how you are going to communicate moving forward. Should they be looking for emails, phone calls, updates from team leaders, social, or website? Be clear and follow through on those. If it changes, let them know!
If you have the space, empower your team leaders to communicate to your team. For one, it takes the burden off of you to communicate and manage however many people you have going on trips. Second, as leaders, we should desire to draw out of our people the ability to lead. Giving this opportunity, although small, gives them the chance to grow and lead their team well—at your direction. You might even write them a sample email to get them started.
10. Have fun with it!
Seriously, I'm not kidding. Especially at a time like this, there is so much somberness going around that being able to lighten the mood through an email, will relieve the tension for the participant and leader. We need to keep perspective that the God of the universe is in control.
In the meantime...
Share some good books to read (could I recommend “The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry”), encourage them to engage with the community they were going to be apart over there right here, meetings over zoom or Skype, love people by respecting their space especially at this time, or make a list of places where people in vulnerable situations might be that they could serve and love well. I was telling a friend of mine after all this is over if I am no closer to the Father than I was when it started I will be disappointed. Encourage time and space to spend with God.
This is one post of many we're doing related to the current crisis. Download Cancelled: A Guide to Maintaining Missions Engagement When Your Short-Term Trip is Cancelled.