Dark storm clouds were just beginning to swallow the sky over my college house as my phone started making an eerily familiar sound. While growing up in Alabama, I often heard tornado watch and tornado warning alerts broadcasting from the sirens mounted on posts every few miles along the highway. The residents of my small town knew that when a siren sounded, it was time to take cover as quickly as possible.
Since I was familiar with the storm-warning coming from my phone, I was able to remain calm. My college roommate--a transplant from New England--was caught off guard. After the warning period passed, I learned that her tornado knowledge was limited to watching the movie Twister and making a "tornado in a bottle" in elementary school.
When my phone started beeping, she began rushing around the apartment collecting her prized possessions in a garbage bag. I watched in stunned silence. Had a tornado touched down, taking the time to gather her possessions could have cost both of us our lives.
My experience that day was an important reminder that when an unfamiliar crisis occurs, many people do things that increase, rather than mitigate the danger. Although the actual crisis your nonprofit experiences may not be the one you imagined and planned for, any prior preparation and planning will serve you well.
Consider the following tips to prepare for the crisis that might be around the bend at your nonprofit.