Within hours of the devastating earthquake and tsunami hitting Sulawesi, Indonesia, charities across the world sprung into action and began collecting money to assist the victims of the disaster. Such a quick response, would not be possible without a plan already in place. If disaster were to strike the beneficiaries of your organisation, would you be prepared to help quickly and effectively?
The first step in being prepared for disaster relief is assessing the likelihood that your organisation would be called upon to assist in an emergency situation and what that situation might involve. While there is a clear link between international aid organisations raising money for victims of natural disasters, the role your charity could play in an emergency may not be so obvious. For example, an animal aid organisation could support victims of bushfires by caring for their pets. A hospital or welfare organisation could provide free counselling for victims of natural disaster.
Once you have identified that there is a chance your organisation could be part of an emergency relief effort, the next step would be to document a plan to follow in the event of a disaster. In an emergency situation you will need to act fast in order to position your organisation as a key player in the relief effort and get money to where it is needed as quickly as possible. Having a plan in place, saves valuable time and allows you to focus your efforts productively.
Some of the things you may wish to consider when putting together a Disaster Relief Plan:
- How will people donate – via the phone or online via your normal online donation facility, a dedicated donation page or microsite?
- Will you provide avenues for peer-to-peer fundraising so supporters can raise funds on your behalf?
- How you will promote the campaign – by social media, traditional media, online or direct to existing supporters?
- How will you communicate with the media and who will be the contact person?
- How will you thank supporters for their donation and encourage them to promote your emergency appeal?
- How will you communicate with supporters and keep them updated throughout the campaign?
As well as the plan, it can be helpful to have communications templates and donation pages/microsite designed and ready to go. This will ensure you don’t waste valuable time going through a creative process and can simply drop in appropriate text and get moving.
Putting effort into preparing for an emergency appeal will not only have benefits for the beneficiaries of your fundraising, it could also have ongoing benefits for your organisation. Responding to a disaster can help raise the profile of your organisation, create positive associations among your supporters and the general public and attract new supporters who continue to give beyond the emergency appeal.
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