Patient Groups: Building Community During the COVID-19 Crisis


By Susan Gaffney, Vice President, Membership, Development and Operations

This is the third in a series of blog posts focusing on how the current climate is impacting patient groups’ efforts to build community. Other posts in the series will focus on fundraising and day-to-day operations.

It’s important during this time of physical distancing to build connectedness and a sense of community with your constituents, volunteers, donors, and staff. Your community should be weathering this together. When this period of distancing is over in a few weeks or months, you’ll have built up and strengthened your online community by through these activities:

  • Involve people in showing their support for your organization. If your organization supports families with kids or adults with a chronic illness who can’t go out at all – set up a YouTube channel where volunteers can read stories to kids/books to adults so those stuck indoors can watch. Have them send videos to you first for vetting. This is a way people can feel connected and help each other.
  • Have a band or musician play a concert via Facebook Live for your constituents and host a “watch party.”
  • Invite constituents to write blog posts or host chats on your Facebook page, website or Twitter feed.
  • Profile “a day in the life of” blog or social media posts to highlight staff or volunteers or constituents.
  • Ask people to be social media ambassadors and share information for your cause once a week on their personal social media pages. Provide them with easy posts that can be reshared with graphics and applaud those who do so.
  • Invite people to apply to be a virtual volunteer and have them help with data entry, phone calls to check on constituents (train them if needed for this!) and engage them in the work of the organization.

Remember, you are not in this alone. For more information and resources for patient groups, visit our COVID-19 issue page.