Best Practices for Organization Continuity
Effect use of Digital Management and Internal Communications to carry your group’s efforts a long, long way
Every so often a new organization calls to ask me if I can help them “find” their website. It is just one of the many examples of how groups can function in ways that can bring their efforts to a standstill.
It’s often only then that they realize all of the communications of their assets were set to go to a members personal email address that no one has access to that panic ensues. The incoming leadership have no idea who dealt with various venues, what the passwords are to their PayPal account, and who holds the registration to their domain.
I have consulted with numerous organizations as they work to pick up the pieces of their organization after the death or abandonment of key leaders. Information forever lost as they unnecessarily recreate the wheel, likely not for the first time for the group. In addition to that, my experience goes even deeper, as I have had the personal experience of serving in leadership of an organization with complex finances and digital media assets.
If one of your leaders walk away can your team keep pace with the previous year?
If the work you do matters to you or others, isn’t it important that it can carry on in the event something happens to you? The reality is none of us are expendable and if you are to your organization that is a red flag, then it can only thrive as long as you do. Unexpected events happen in people’s lives everyday: family needs, burnout, illness, relocation, changed priorities, and even death. When only one person in the organization has the contacts with that great sponsor, responsibilities for critical passwords, access to financial assets… the organization is set up for stressful consequences.
Evaluating your Organization’s Continuity.
- Identify your critical organizational assets
- social media channels
- organization email(s)
- financial assets (PayPal, Square, banking account, etc.)
- stakeholders: members, sponsors, clients, etc…
- funding: sponsor relations, fundraising, grants, customer base
- Identify several trusted members who have a history of responsibility with the organization.
- Ensure you have strong and documented passwords. Use recommendations from cyber security professionals.
- Determine your organization’s available continuity budget to determine the best tools for your organization’s resources. (i.e. Dropbox, Zoom, Slack, etc.)
- Document who has what information for which assets and provide a list to all board members or even include it in your handbook (but not the passwords in the handbook). See the attached Digital Media Assets Inventory Microsoft Word document below. Download, complete and customize for your needs.
Needs, Members & Tools
Assets & Logins
With Key Members
What are your groups assets? What do you need?
Every group is different, but one thing remains the same: having multiple trusted members will ensure productivity, continuity, and the opportunities to succeed in it’s mission. Having multiple people involved, provides for transparency of the organization’s management and financial activities. Two deep keeps multiple eyes on accounts and maintains the integrity of your work.
There are many aspects to identify and address: contacts, finances, and communications are just a few. I am going to focus mainly on communications, but systems should be in place for a smooth transition of all aspects of your work in any unforeseen situation.
I can’t change the password on the PayPal account, because I don’t have access to the email account. What can I do? Hopefully, the account is in the organization’s name and PayPal may be able to help. If it is in a personal name, you may want to consider talking to your bank about what steps you can take to remove access to that account.
But it does happens. Often. I recommend a security cloud-based email account for which a minimum of 2 people have access to monitor and manage organization business. This account should be passed on to the next group of leaders to create an archive of the organization’s email communications.
The number of different emails depends on the extent of the organization and communications. There should at least be a main account – which contact forms and membership tracking can be managed. A separate treasurer account if preferred, that can be shared with the next treasurer and so on, so that the financial information is transferred from year to year and continuity retained by the organization. Gmail is a popular option, but there are numerous options these days. Consider any privacy and security your organization needs to adhere to.
When was the last time you heard… oh I left my checkbook at home. Can I bring it next time?
Having an online financial option these days ensures you can easily collect fees in the moment for memberships, meetings, and products. This should be connected to an organization cloud-based email that can be shared with the next group of officers. Never a personal email account.
My site is down and I can’t figure out why. Did you lose your domain registration? Make sure to have the renewal notices connected to the organizations’ and treasurer’s email, not an individual person’s email account. Select Auto-renew when possible. Always renew for the maximum number of years the organization can afford. There can be up to 4 different contacts listed in domain accounts. If the domain name expires and is not renewed, it can be purchased by someone else and then you may not be able to recover it or control what it is be used for.
If someone is sponsoring the domain name, ask them to add the President or treasurer as a second person on the domain contact names, in case it needs to be transferred at a later date.
My hosting company deleted our account when the credit card expired. How do I get it back? Likely… you don’t. Your account should be on a auto-pay account. Like your domain name connected to the organization’s email account for renewal. With most hosting accounts, if you stop paying, the site and all of your hard work is deleted and lost forever. Which leads to the next…
My site is down. The hosting company says the database is corrupt. There are fatal errors that can cause you to lose your entire site. Check with your website hosting provider for options and backups. Download a backup regularly to a separate location in the event the site gets corrupted or lost.
If the site is built on a content management system like WordPress or Joomla, keep updates current for the best protection against hackers. No website is too small to infect.
You don’t need backups with products like Wix/SquareSpace/Weebly, but if you stop paying, your work it gone. Make sure to have the wording and images in another place so you can rebuild if you ever need to.
No one has updated the Facebook account! Having numerous admins not only provides for continuity of maintenance, but also means less fatigue in maintaining.
- Facebook Page/Group: include several admins
- Twitter: share login with several trusted members
- Instagram: share login with several trusted members
- Linkedin: include several admins
Clearly this requires trust. Create clear expectations and rules, so that if someone does cross a line and lose the trust of the community, there is a plan on how to manage.
More Tools to Improve Team Productivity!
Communication is key to effective group management and effectiveness. These days there is no lack of tools.
There are several closed communication applications available now to provide regular and secure communications. These are not social media apps, these applications are limited to the group’s members. It can be an effective way to share information regularly, encourage interaction of discussions and share in planning. It can take a while to get the entire group on board, but once people get used to it, it can prove to be a great communication tool for your members. The apps can be accessed on the phone or a computer, to help groups and individuals to message one another quickly, easily and keep the lines of communication open. Be patient. It can take a while for members to adapt to new tools.
Google Drive/One Drive/Dropbox
Keep a shared file of key documentation of your organizational tools. There are both free and paid options to keep documents available to your organization’s officers. Your charter, grant applications, handbooks, letters of recommendation, sponsor letters, logos, artwork for campaigns, photos, etc. Anything that make it easier for a whole new group to pick up and lead your group’s efforts seamlessly.
Applications like Google docs and Microsoft One Drive
These applications are particularly helpful for groups working together, especially now with more work having to be achieved online under social distancing restrictions. Several people can simultaneously work together to complete grants, plans, and letters quickly.
Zoom/Microsoft Teams/GoToMeeting/Google Meet
Find an online meeting application options that works best for your organization’s membership and within your regulations. If needed, purchase a paid membership to make sure you always have the ability to host a meeting.
These are only a few of the issues I commonly experience calls for and have experienced within organizations. This is not meant to be a complete list of all of the matters of concern to organizations. Brainstorm with your members what issues you all should be aware of and how to best manage.
Your mission matters!
Running an organization these days includes a lot of moving parts. Need some help navigating the complex online options available for your organization or troubleshooting challenges taking over a new organization? Email me today to schedule time to discuss and let’s get you back on track to fulfilling your mission!