SUPPORT FOR CHAPTERS RECOVERING FROM NATURAL DISASTER
After you know that students and their families are safe from harm, the relief work will begin. Triage the situation and refer to your BC/DR plan. Ready.gov is your best bet for information on how to respond to specific disaster types.
Be available for chapters by keeping in regular communication with chapter leaders. You can also choose to communicate with the entire chapter by utilizing online collaborative platforms, like Slack, or use a private group in your online community—whichever method is easier for chapters to use.
Keep communication lines open with your National staff and volunteer leaders. Let them know what is going on and how they can help. Providing updates on your organization’s social media accounts or email list can help keep questions from the larger community at bay. While their concern is appreciated, this will keep your energy focused on chapters instead of responding to a myriad of inquiries.
Chapters may not only suffer material loss as the result of a natural disaster, they often bare the weight of emotional pain due to stress and fatigue. They are not only trying to get their chapter back up and running, but dealing with distress at home, school and work too. Arrange for emotional support services and mental health counselors to assist chapters.
Give chapters a break on meeting administrative requirements and dues payments. Take them off reminder distribution lists for administrative obligations—they have enough on their plate. Offer to take on financial responsibilities (tax filing, bills, etc.) while they recover.
Establish a dues waiver program for members whose finances are suffering because of the disaster. Remove members temporarily from email (and postal) distribution lists that could be sensitive considering their situation.
When they are finally out of crisis mode, provide them with some fun to alleviate their stress. Get ‘self-care’ goodie bags together, send them some special treats or host a fun event.
As with all of the crisis scenarios we’ve addressed in our Chapter Rescue series, the key is to help chapters move forward. We hope none of your chapters ever has to deal with one of the eleven crises covered. If you’re proactive and take the steps to prevent what’s preventable, then you may never have to rescue a chapter in crisis.