The onset of hurricane season means it’s time to revisit the safety plan
Nonprofits play a vital role in helping people prepare for and respond to disasters. In times of crisis, it is essential that nonprofits are able to provide and maintain essential community services.
With hurricane season about to start on June 1, so I asked Marcia Warfel to answer some common disaster planning questions. Marcia Warfel is a former Office Manager for Recovery and Mitigation for the Florida Division of Emergency Management and former Program Manager for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
She is now a senior consultant within the Disasters, Strategies & Ideas group and brings a wealth of experience on this subject.
Here are his answers and tips for putting a plan in place.
What is COOP?
- “COOP” is the abbreviated term for business continuity planning.
- Business continuity planning (COOP) is an important part of any organization’s risk management efforts. We have all experienced this over the past 15 months and learned about areas where we can improve. Now is the time to reflect, document, and make changes to your processes. By preparing for the unexpected, your organization can reduce the impact of the unexpected and ensure less disruption in service delivery.
- A COOP plan should clearly define the steps an organization will take during a time of disruption to ensure that it can continue to operate.
- COOP plans generally focus on three main areas:
What should be included in a COOP?
- COOP Contacts and Teams – People and groups responsible for planning, relocation, support and other continuity functions.
- Orders of succession – Designate the main positions within an organization and the people who have the skills and experience necessary to fulfill their responsibilities.
- Primary and Alternate Facilities – Locations where an organization operates and identifies locations to relocate as needed.
- Core Functions – The core functions that an organization is expected to perform should be considered operational.
- Vital Documents / Resources – The “things” that an organization relies on to perform its essential functions.
- Communication – How you communicate information / status to your staff.
In the event of an emergency or disruption, how will your nonprofit continue to provide key services?
Use the following COOP key areas to help you start your planning and ensure your organization can weather any crisis.
What potential threats (natural, health, personnel, infrastructure, etc.) to your organization’s operations exist, and what is their priority order based on likelihood or severity?
What are your main organizational functions and what is their priority?
What is your system of communication with employees in the event of a disruption? What is your succession plan?
4) KEY CUSTOMERS / CUSTOMERS / SELLERS
Do you have key contact information on file that is easily accessible?
5) INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (IT)
Does your organization have an up-to-date list of all IT-related items and essential or vital records? Is there a current backup procedure that can be accessed remotely, if necessary?
What are the financial needs of your organization in the event of a business disruption? Consider payroll, expenses, payment receipts, and temporary moving costs.
Make a plan
If you don’t have a contingency plan or COOP in place, where should you start?
- Meet some of the leaders in your organization and discuss the importance and reasons for COOP.
- Gather basic contact information for staff.
- A good COOP plan should answer six questions if an organization is facing a disruption:
What types of events could occur to trigger COOP activation?
Where could we / would we go?
How could we communicate the message of offshoring?
What does our organization do and what is most important?
What elements would we need to perform our duties?
Who will be in charge?
Don’t forget to review your six key areas for COOP development.
Marcia sums it up this way. Disaster planning doesn’t happen in gloomy or gray weather. The time to plan is in a clear blue sky, which means the time to plan is now.
Marcia Warfel can be contacted at [email protected] or (850) 688-8100. Notes on Nonprofits is produced by Alyce Lee Stansbury, CFRE and features new ideas and resources, timeless topics from the Notes on Nonprofits Vault, guest columns, and answers to your questions. Please send your question or comments to [email protected]
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