As concerns about COVID-19 continue to escalate, we as members of the Friends community supporting U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sites need to think about how we can protect our health and well-being as well as that of volunteers, staff, visitors, and members of our organizations. Our lives and communities are changing so quickly that it’s difficult to know how to proceed, so we would like to start a dialogue and provide some resources.
First, it’s important for us to follow the guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and our state and local health departments. Please check these sites regularly for guidance and updates.
Remember that, as nonprofits, we have a legal ‘duty of care.’ For those not familiar with this concept, it means your board has the responsibility to act in a reasonable and prudent manner when making decisions. Following the guidance of the CDC and your health departments would constitute a reasonable standard of care as you decide whether to move forward, postpone, or cancel your activities and programs. Of course, as your board works on making reasonable decisions, it’s vital to communicate with refuge staff.
Stay in touch with your members and volunteers and inform them of board decisions. Let them know what is happening and if there are ways they can help. Phone calls may be especially effective ways to keep in touch with key members as well as those without email. Don’t know where to start with a written message? Here’s a letter from the Friends of the Wichitas that may offer ideas you can use.
If your board can’t get together to make these decisions, then try a teleconference or virtual meeting. If this would be something new for your group, then check out Jonathan Poisner’s recent post in the Coalition of Refuge Friends and Advocates (CORFA) Facebook group for tips about conducting successful “virtual” meetings.
CORFA’s Facebook group is a place for Friends to share ideas and stay in touch. If you’re not a member, you are welcome to join! Besides offering postings on subjects important to Friends and advocates nationwide, every Wednesday the site features a posting, by Linda Kilgore, with information about webinars that can help you build a stronger organization. Some of these webinars cover subjects related to COVID-19; for example, legal and insurance issues and guidelines for conducting remote meetings.
Or perhaps your group is one of the many cancelling, postponing, or altering the format of an outreach or fundraising event. If so, you may want to take advantage of a free or low-cost webinar offered by one of the consulting groups supporting nonprofits to weather the current situation. Check the CORFA page for options.
This is a time for us to be creative as we continue to work on supporting our organizations, refuges, and communities, and the CORFA Facebook group is a place for us to brainstorm and share resources. Please check the site regularly for new ideas and resources.
Stay healthy and let’s stay connected!
Coalition of Refuge Friends and Advocates
Photo credit: Greg Kramos/USFWS