Today marks Day 3 of the federal government shut down. We’ve all seen a laundry list of closings, large and small — from the Panda Cam to a set of Head Start programs. But in all the chaos, there is an opportunity: news outlets of all sizes are hunting for stories of local residents and organizations already seeing the effects of the shutdown, creating an opportunity for nonprofits meeting critical community needs to draw attention to the necessity of their work. Here are a few tips and resources for awareness and even donation drives from Nancy Schwartz’s gettingattention.org blog and the Nonprofit Quarterly :
If your organization is seeing an increase in demand for your services due to the shut down, make sure your supporters know! Take a page from Feeding America‘s communications strategy, where they’ve highlighted the fragility of our hunger relief programs in all their external communications. Or use this critical moment to rally your networks, as some food banks have, through a call to action for donations and volunteers to help with a surge in clients.
If your organization has a federal grant in jeopardy, make sure your supporters know what is at stake. Take that story of the needs that won’t get met, and incorporate them into your current giving drives or communications plans.
Even if your organization is not yet directly affected, you may be able to capitalize on its prominence in the news by incorporating the effects of the shutdown into your organizational story about why your work is so critical. As the gettingattention.org blog points out, any communication is probably better than the news “blackouts” from the federal agencies.