You may have seen my previous article about Pat Corcoran, the founder of IBM’s Business Continuity & Resiliency Services Group and one of the world’s premier experts in business continuity.

After completing the hands-on disaster preparedness for nonprofits workshop for the more than 20 Vermont food shelf representatives, Pat was kind enough to share his thoughts on the 5 most important steps a nonprofit should take in preparing their organizations for a disaster. He also walked through these steps a second time from the perspective of an individual food shelf, to make the advice even more impactful.

Chris Meehan, the Chief Community Impact Officer from Vermont Foodbank, has now been through Pat’s workshop twice, and she still found value in Pat’s process. (You can read more about last year’s workshop at the VFB here.)

“Going through this workshop and being able to tap into this incredible expertise helped us to realize how very important it is to have a solid and living plan,” Chris explained. “It’s something that needs to be updated regularly and shared among all of our staff.”

I turned Pat’s insight, as well as reactions from Chris into a helpful 6 minute video called “Create Your Nonprofit Continuity Plan in 5 Simple Steps.”

If you work at or volunteer for a nonprofit, the advice in this video and below can help you start putting together a disaster recovery plan for your organization.

Pat’s 5 Simple Steps for Creating a Continuity Plan:

  1. Know Your Mission.  
    Be clear as an organization about WHO you are and WHAT you do. Knowing your mission is first, because everything centers around that. This is simply one paragraph that says what you are and why your organization is important.
  2. Know Your Organization.
    Understand how your organization is structured and start from the TOP. Know and list all pieces both internal and external. Make this into a contact list with people, roles, and responsibilities. EVERYBODY is a key player when you are responding to an emergency.
  3. Know which Risks Could Affect You.
    Consider what types of RISKS could potentially affect your organization and what impact they could have to your operations – things like flood, power, fire, or the loss of a vendor. Don’t just think about the types of disasters that make headlines. There have been businesses burned to the ground by a fire from a coffee pot in the break room.
  4. Know Your Internal & External Processes.
    Know WHAT processes are critical to your success and WHY. Take the time to put these in priority order. Keep in mind that the priority might be different in the face of different risks. Also, be sure to look at external processes like your supply chain, such as power and telecommunications and logistics that are important to your core work.
  5. Use All of the Above to Create Your Plan.
    Armed with all of the information above, you now have everything you need to create a disaster preparation plan for your organization. Document this information in a plan and keep it current. The plan is a living part of your organization that should be revisited every six months.

In addition to my gratitude to Pat and Chris for being excellent video subjects, I also appreciate everyone at Orca Media for giving me a crash course in videography and video production.