5 best practices for communicating inclement weather closings for faith-based communities

From hurricanes to blizzards and everything in between, inclement weather is a part of nature.

So are the challenges of managing the logistical factors involved in protecting your members when harsh weather comes calling. While a well-organized plan can minimize confusion and maximize safety, failure to properly address severe weather conditions can threaten everything from engagement to human life.

One way to avoid unnecessary negative fallout due to inclement weather? Follow these 5 best practices for communicating with your congregation about closures and other important information during weather-related emergencies.

#1: Manage expectations

The first step to having a good plan? Having a plan in the first place.

A recent Travelers Insurance survey reveals that just under 44 percent of all small organizations in the U.S. do not have a plan outlining what actions should be taken during a weather emergency. Does your house of worship have an inclement weather policy? If so, when was the last time it was updated? Are your members aware of the plan? Is it easily accessible to them?

Each of these questions must be asked and answered in order to achieve both clarity and transparency.

#2: Address the specifics

It’s not enough to have a general plan in place; you must also establish and communicate detailed procedures.

When leadership decides to close or delay services or events due to inclement weather, does your congregation know how you will communicate this information to them? More importantly, can you trust that they will receive this information as quickly and directly as possible?

It all comes down to specifics. From who will send the message to which channel(s) will be used, to the time of delivery, the more detailed you are in defining and communicating policies, the more likely they are to hold up in emergency situations.

#3: Embrace technology

While phone trees might have been the only option for communicating with large numbers of contacts 20 years ago, they were never without their share of problems. From miscommunications to the complete breakdown of communications due to a single failure in the chain, phone trees have historically led to more confusion, not less.

The latest mass-messaging services offer an innovative solution by allowing both leaders and members to have more control regarding how and through which means they receive pivotal communications. For example, leading notification provider One Call Now offers a multi-channel approach which allows faith-based communities to send time-sensitive messages via the recipient’s choice of voice, text or email with just a single click or call.

Not only that, but leaders and administrators can see which members have received messages and which have not — resulting in new levels of assurance that important messages are being received.

Another benefit for communities made up of members for whom not all information applies? One Call Now allows senders to designate subsets of members for mass message delivery. For example, you can cancel the Youth Ministry Retreat without sending a message to the entire membership base. With One Call Now, you can easily create and send targeted messages to specific groups for the most efficient communications.

#4: Streamline and save time

There’s no time to spare in an emergency, which is why several additional features make emergency notification systems far preferable to other methods of communication. One Call Now offers the following advanced functions designed to further facilitate communications:

  • Call scheduling, which lets senders pre-record and store messages to be sent at later times or dates.
  • Real-time polling, which offers leaders instant feedback from members via keypad response. This is especially useful for learning if a member needs help or assistance, or for obtaining RSVP’s for an event.
  • Hot transfer, which allows calls to be automatically transferred to the administrative office at the end of this message.

All these added options promise unprecedented assurance and peace of mind for faith-based communities in fulfilling their missions.

#5: Maximize your message

We all know that shorter is better when it comes to conveying messages in today’s fast-paced digital world. After all, members don’t want to have to repeatedly listen to a message to be certain that they’ve absorbed every relevant piece of information. While messages should be brief and to the point, subjects should be descriptive and action-oriented—particularly when a response is requested.

Start your Free Trial from One Call Now and see just how easy it is to keep your congregants informed.





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