Civic Participation During Social Distancing

Our sector’s strength derives from its ability to come together in a crisis. We do our best work when under pressure, which makes us uniquely capable in high stress and uncertain times. Because of the important work that we do on a regular basis, we have built trust in our communities, and that trust is critical right now. In order to maintain that trust, we need to make sure that our advocacy work is at its best, so that we can continue doing our best work. Here are some best practices that we can utilize as we navigate these uncharted waters.

  1. Make sure your online action center is ready for its “close up.”
    Are your action items easy to understand? Do they need more context? It is likely that people may come upon your action center without being directed from a newsletter, so they may not be familiar with the complexities of your issues. Make sure your action center items stand on their own.
  2. Ensure your digital efforts are accessible.
    Are your webpages up to ADA standards? Make sure all of your photos and graphics have descriptive text. If you’re unsure, check out this resource for more information. While you’re at it, make sure your webpages are also multi-device friendly (phones, tablets, etc.).
  3. Engage with your decisionmakers or stakeholders through digital platforms.
    Can’t continue with your Hill meetings or in-person strategy sessions? Turn them into conference calls! Now more than ever, it’s important for decisionmakers to know what your organization and community’s needs are, and coalition strategy sessions will likely be happening more frequently and with little notice. Many organizations are collecting free or discounted services available for nonprofits right now. Check out some of the following collections: Association of Fundraising Professionals, The Nonprofit Partnership, and this ever-growing collection of nonprofit gathered resources. Some individual resources include: G-Suite, Slack, and Zoom.
  4. Evaluate your online platform.
    What are your biggest challenges in your advocacy efforts? What issues are your users facing? Take the time to find out how your advocacy platform could be improved, then talk to your representatives. Now is the perfect time to make sure that your community and stakeholders can engage with you in a meaningful way.
  5. Remember to thank your supporters.
    We don’t know how long the current status quo will continue, so it’s critically important that we make sure to thank those who are continuing to engage with us. The nonprofit sector, our allies, and supporters are all trying to navigate an ever-changing landscape, and we need to make sure we are caring for each other. A simple thank you will go a long way in strengthening relationships and building stronger bridges for the road ahead.

Please continue to check back as we update our COVID-19 resource page.

Types: Blog
Global Topics: Civil Society, COVID-19 Response, IS Member, IS Staff, Leadership Development, Organizational Relationships
Focus Areas: Organizational Relationships