Patient Groups: Day-to-Day Operations During the COVID-19 Crisis


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

It’s apparent we are all going to spend days, weeks, and possibly even months isolating ourselves at home due to COVID-19. Many patient organizations have had to cancel fundraisers, meetings, and program events and are supporting their patient communities via remote means. So, how do you raise support, engage volunteers, connect with people, and build community while everyone is living this isolated existence?

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

The day-to-day business of your patient organization continues. Yes, it may be continuing from kitchen tables and spare bedrooms, and while small children run riot on screens/tablets. A few key principles can help you get through these days.

  • Remind people that the mission of the organization goes on – even during hard times – and try to give people hope and sense of continuity. Be transparent and speak honestly about the situation you are dealing with as an organization.
  • Be open that: “We are all in this together and we are facing XYZ challenges because our fundraiser/gala/race was cancelled. The impact on us is…”
  • Remind everyone that you are doing all you can to support your constituents during this period, and to carry on the important work you’ve been tasked to do.
  • Refrain from doing things that make you look out-of-touch or unaware of the current crisis. It’s important to acknowledge what’s happening around us, its impact on your organization’s operations, and how you are responding.

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