10 Ways for Community Groups to Connect During Coronavirus

Published on May 7th, 2020 by Molly Brind'Amour

It may feel like the virus has put life on pause. But that doesn’t mean you need to pause the good work you’re doing! Here are some ways for your nonprofit group to weather the storm and come out stronger on the other side.

  1. Get active on social media 

Take advantage of extra eyeballs to create a Facebook group or page for your organization. If your group already has social media, check out some best practices to make the most of your online presence. If you haven’t already, take advantage of Nextdoor, a site for connecting with your immediate neighborhood. 

  1. Research community needs

Reach out to your friends, neighbors, volunteers and community members to find out what your community needs in the upcoming months. Whether that means developing online events to boost morale or planning a community garden, you can take stock of your neighborhood’s needs and find a way to help. 

  1. Connect with similar groups

Now’s the time to learn more about some of the other terrific community groups working in the area. You can use Enrichmond’s website to find Partner groups in your area, or read some of the articles I wrote about a few of our terrific Partner groups! In addition, Connect VA keeps a directory of local nonprofits to check out. 

  1. Plan socially-distant events

Even when life begins to “return to normal,” social distancing measures may still be the best choice for continuing with your volunteer events. Consider how you can space volunteers out on-site and limit person-to-person contact. The CDC offers some guidance on gatherings. Some Americans are choosing to hold “driveway happy hours” to connect with their neighbors from six feet apart. 

  1. Consider virtual volunteering

Although your volunteers may be used to getting their hands dirty, there are plenty of opportunities for volunteers to help your group without leaving their house. Some ideas include logo design, grant research, data entry, photography and fundraising. Enrichmond hosts remote volunteers to aid us with uncovering history at East End and Evergreen Cemeteries.

  1. Update your stakeholders

Consider putting out a newsletter or email blast to update your volunteers and community members about what’s going on with your group. You could share future plans, opportunities for remote volunteering, a link to virtual meetings, and Richmond-specific resources, like the guide Childsavers put together. For example, you can update your neighborhood about RPS meal distribution sites and about whether access to your park is limited. 

  1. Make a fundraising plan

Now is the time to figure out how you can make your future plans happen. Work with other members of your group to plan giving goals, reach out to community partners, and apply for grants that can help you accomplish your objectives. Be sure to make sure the grants you’re applying to aren’t suspended due to coronavirus.

  1. Expand your knowledge

Take advantage of remote learning resources to build your skills on topics from grant-writing to volunteer management to creating raised bed planters. Penn State’s agriculture extension is offering certain courses for free until May 10. 

  1. Thank your members and supporters

With so many people at home, thank-you postcards or emails could be a great way to show appreciation to the volunteers and donors that have supported your group. If you aren’t having usual meetings, an email check-in with group members can be a good way to show your support.

  1. Research your history

Although libraries and museums are no longer open to the public, there’s a wealth of online resources to learn more about the history of your site. There may be old images — as in the case of Taylor’s Hill Park — that can help guide future plans. You can find old photos and documents on sites like the Valentine, Dementi Studio, Chronicling America, Virginia Museum of History and Culture and the Library of Virginia.