Most nonprofits expect to face challenges in their operations, however many never expect natural disasters, so they neglect to prepare for them. A comprehensive disaster plan can mitigate total devastation and allow your organization to restore operations in a timely manner.

Portland State University and the Nonprofit Association of Oregon (NAO) issued a state-wide survey of Oregon’s nonprofits. The report found that a majority of the organizations neglect 20 of the 36 activities the NAO associates with disaster-resilience best practices. The findings are revealing, considering the respondents live and work in a state that experiences (or has the potential to experience) almost every natural disaster.

It is easy to cast stones, but if you are honest, would you be able to rank your organization’s disaster resilience higher than the nonprofits in the Oregon study?

Below are a few of the NAO’s best practice activities for disaster planning. How many of the items can you check off your list?

  • Attend meetings and discussions, or heard talks about how a major disaster could affect the region
  • Had your building(s) inspected by a structural engineer or other building professional
  • Formed a disaster preparedness committee
  • Developed a written disaster plan for your organization
  • Developed an evacuation plan for your building
  • Obtained an emergency kit for use by your organization in a disaster
  • Made plans to share resources (building, staff, materials, etc.) with other organizations (including government) in the event of a disaster
  • Developed a notification system for staff/volunteers activated in case of an emergency
  • Developed a plan for how your organization would continue operations after an emergency/disaster (contingency plan or business continuity plan)
  • Identified long-term recovery resources (e.g., insurance, physical resources, financial resources)

We cannot stress enough the importance of having a plan in place. Crafting the right plan (or any plan) takes time and resources. Most of the nonprofits in the NAO study cited a lack of personnel and financial resources as a barrier to creating a plan. If you do not have a plan or have not addressed a majority of the items above, the following questions are a great place to start and require minimal resources. Your answers will reveal the nuts and bolts of what it will take to assure continuity of business:

  1. What functions are essential to fulfilling your mission?
  2. What must be done to resume these functions after an interruption of operations?

We know that creating a plan takes a healthy amount of due diligence. The professionals in our office are standing by to answer your questions and help you craft the right plan for your organization. We look forward to your call.