With little to no notice, floods, wildfires, hurricanes, earthquakes, and more can adversely impact the lives of your congregation and community. Whether these emergency situations happen near you or they occur thousands of miles away, it’s crucial your church is prepared.
Your congregation and others in the community look to the church for spiritual leadership and comfort, as well as practical solutions to help during this unpredictable time. By reacting quickly, compassionately, and in an organized manner, you’ll combat these disasters and make a difference in the lives around you.
In order to help your church minimize negative outcomes before, during, and after a natural disaster, here are 6 steps to prepare.
1. Evaluate risks & resources in your area through data
There’s a wealth of information available to help evaluate the risks of a natural disaster.
- Familiarize yourself with data from local, state, and federal sources. This information gives you a better understanding of the risks associated with the particular disaster you’re facing. Flood inundation maps and declared disaster areas are examples of resources you’ll find.
- Utilize easyTithe’s resources and features to enhance donations and communication efforts. Push notifications, volunteer sign up forms, unlimited funds, and more provide solutions that keep you organized and everyone else informed.
- Identify active church members with skill sets relevant to your efforts. If the disaster happened in your community, reach out to first-responders, volunteer coordinators, and medical and law enforcement professionals to help inform you of risks and share resources.
2. Raise money through focused online giving
Even if your church isn’t located where the disaster occurs, there’s a good chance your community will be inspired to give towards the cause. Include clear steps to set up text and online giving when communicating with your church because some have never given online before.
When asking for contributions on Facebook, email, text, and your website, be as specific as possible about where the funds are going. Many giving towards disaster funds aren’t members of your church, and they’ll want details to ensure their gift makes a real impact.
3. Be vigilant about background checks
As difficult as natural disasters are, they also inspire people that usually don’t donate time or money to do so. While it’s wonderful to get the additional help, it’s also vital to run background checks to reduce the risk for your church and protect the disaster victims.
Consider integrating screening tools like Protect My Ministry. These tools provide cost-effective background checks and training for child safety, volunteers, and staff.
4. Focus on clear and timely communications
When a natural disaster strikes, it’s crucial communication is quick and precise. Use all your communication tools like text, email, social media, and phone calls to quickly pass information to those affected and to mobilize volunteers and staff.
Consider adding new communication tools to your easyTithe account like the robust church app, MinistryOne. With the app, you can use push notifications to send emergency alerts, prayer requests and updates, links to volunteer and register for events, the latest news, and more.
Share pertinent information such as the path of the storm, emergency services, and the next steps the church is taking. Throughout the disaster, continue communicating updates and encouraging donations as the specific needs of the community unfold.
5. Position your website as a communication hub
Learn the natural disasters that your community is at high-risk for and provide information on the church’s website to help. Publish useful articles that guide families on how to create their own disaster plans. List phone numbers and links to websites that are dedicated to disaster preparedness like non-emergency helplines and the Department of Homeland Security.
You don’t have to wait for a natural disaster to occur to reach out to resources. By building a strong relationship with local emergency responders, you’ll know who to call for information in the event of a natural disaster.
Continue to plan for natural disasters
Every natural disaster comes with a unique set of circumstances. Between the different levels of intensity and the many locations that can be struck by emergencies, it’s a challenge to plan ahead. But, when you’re unprepared, it’s overwhelming, exhausting, and decreases your response time.
When you’re prepared for the worst-case scenario, your church can do everything possible to aid those in need. Continue to plan for emergency situations and learn from those that have passed, and you’ll be the pillar of strength that your community needs during difficult times.