Most people will agree 2016 hasn’t been the most uplifting year in recent memory. Our world faces challenges that weigh heavily on us all — including the very people who get up each day to create, share and spread good in meaningful ways.
For our friends and
colleagues in philanthropy, times of crisis can also become moments for your organization to educate and make a case for inspiring people to act in positive ways when many feel helpless. But doing this in a respectful way requires sensitivity, empathy and a sound communications plan.
Here are our top lessons for foundations that aspire to educate others during times of crisis:
Be Authentic – As human beings, how do we react when something terrible happens in the world? Does your organization reflect this same sense of humanity? While many do, there are also many organizations that come off as cold or cliche. Think beyond “our hearts, thoughts and prayers” — instead, think of how you would speak to someone — one on one — who might have been affected by tragedy.
Hit Pause – This goes hand in hand with being authentic. Yes, there is a window of opportunity to present facts and share opportunities for others to take action, but the desire to “be first” shouldn’t supersede the need to pause and reflect. In the same vein, consider how hitting pause impacts your regular communications efforts — social media, eblasts, events and more. Philanthropy communicators might find it’s best to postpone a campaign, tweak canned social media posts or rework an event (maybe even cancel it all together). Not only does it demonstrate flexibility — it shows your organization cares about doing the right thing.
Be Respectful – Recent events in our country and world are tied to extremely polarizing issues. Emotional people who feel strongly about these issues can jump to conclusions quickly. Remember that there are smart ways for your organization to educate people during tough times. Facts and empathy go a long way to help people see many sides to complicated issues.
Be a Resource – From thought starters to convenors, foundations have a lot to offer the communities they serve. Using these skills as a resource for the community following a crisis goes a long way toward building goodwill. For example, organizing a conference call or webinar with other funders in your issue or geographic area can help the philanthropic sector strengthen its response in the weeks, months — and even years– following a crisis.
Our ability to connect with others drives how communities respond in the face of unspeakable events. With the right approach, foundations can be one of the greatest drivers of good as people and communities heal.
Source: Magnify Good