5 Ways to Organize During Social Distancing

April 20, 2020  |  Richard Gabrintina

The developing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will have long term impacts on the day-to-day operations of every business sector in America, including nonprofits. Many organizations are being compelled to pivot and adapt their strategies, often at the last minute, such as implementing working from home or switching to virtual events. Mission-driven work is more critical than ever before but continuing organizing work during social distancing can seem like a daunting task. 

Recently, EveryAction + NGP VAN put together a four-part webinar series to help nonprofit and political organizations adapt to these unusual and uncertain times. The webinar, “Share Your Message, Not Germs: Organizing and Advocacy During Social Distancing,” tackled how nonprofits can shift, adapt, and continue organizing in our new, current landscape.  

The webinar was hosted by organizing and advocacy leaders across different organizations: Amanda Coulombe, GM of Organizing at EveryAction + NGP VAN; Kara Fitzgerald, Deputy National Organizing Director at Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America; Bianca Mounce, Interim Director of Data and Technology Strategy at The Movement Cooperative; and Carrie Gleason, Organizing Director at The Movement Cooperative. 

If you’re looking for solutions on how to continue building power during social distance, here are some highlights from their conversation: 

1. Test and experiment to find what works for your team right now.  

Now is the time to be flexible and play to your team’s strengths. In order to efficiently reach your goals, take stock of the skills and abilities that are currently being underutilized on your team, and take advantage of them in your new plans.

2. Meet people where they are – digitally.  

Take an online, multi-channel approach for your voter and volunteer contact efforts and use all available tools, which include email, social media, phone banking, texting, and virtual events. 

3. Ramp up your social media presence.  

Tap into the online networks of your supporters through social media – such as creating online discussion spaces for segmented groups – and up the training on social media best practices since that’s where important national conversations are taking place. 

4. Devote time and training for onboarding people to new digital tools.  

Create resources for volunteers on how to use tools like Zoom, build in set-up time to your events, and champion super volunteers by letting them lead and train others.  

5. Trust in the efficacy of time-tested methods and focus on implementing those in digital spaces.  

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel – the principles of standard organizing best practices, such as greeting people and making them feel welcome and following up with one-on-ones, still hold true in a technological world. Focus your energy on figuring out how to translate these practices to digital spaces.  

Looking for more in-depth knowledge on how to maximize your impact and shift organizing efforts online? Watch the full-length webinar, “Share Your Message, Not Germs: Organizing and Advocacy During Social Distancing,” to get insight into the best strategies and adapt them to your program today. Check out our resource library for more information on how nonprofits are adapting to COVID-19.