Home NonprofitNonprofit Management The Nonprofit Leader Emergency Survival Kit – Training And Preparation

The Nonprofit Leader Emergency Survival Kit – Training And Preparation

by Dan Kimball

This past week California (where Aplos is located) received a large amount of much-needed rain and snow. Unless you have been living on another planet or do not read the news, most people know California has been in severe drought-like conditions for the past several years. Rainfall has been scarce, but while we welcomed the winter weather, certain parts of the state received large amounts of rain in a short amount of time. This created flooding, mudslides, flash flood warnings, and power outages throughout California. Amidst all the news coverage of the storm conditions and weather tracking, there were a series of reports and warnings about how people should have an emergency preparedness kit or home survival kit ready at all times in their homes and vehicles.

These kinds of kits are typically filled with items such as a flashlight, batteries, bottled water, easy-access food/snacks, transistor radios (sorry Google Home), toiletry items, and for some reason I still don’t know why, every kit needs duct tape. Now I need to confess I personally do not have a survival kit of my own at home, other than a flashlight, and I am not 100% sure where that is located. But I do admit they are a great idea, and I plan to put one together (at least with the snacks) very soon.

Planning For the Unexpected

In the meantime, the whole idea of a survival kit got me thinking about nonprofit leaders and what their emergency preparedness kit might look like. Anyone who has been in leadership at a nonprofit knows there are going to be times when things just do not go as planned, and you can’t always fall back on your training. Everything from unplanned building expenses, a shortfall in donations, or a rained-out special event can quickly throw a wrench in your fundraising plan and create a panic among the leaders, staff, volunteers, and board members.

All the leadership training in the world can’t help your nonprofit be prepared for the unexpected 100% of the time. But you can anticipate many situations and prepare for those. So I would like to suggest some low-cost, easily accessible items every nonprofit leader should have in their own personal emergency preparedness kit.

Nonprofit Leadership Training: Survival Kit Items

Loaded Gift Card To Your Favorite Coffee Establishment

Keep this handy for all those hours of upcoming meetings with donors, volunteers, and board members.

Fully Charged Portable Phone Adapter

For all those times you get stuck waiting in coffee shops for your donors, volunteers, and board members, and you have to kill time by checking Facebook, updating Instagram, and playing another round of 1010.

A Rubber Band

Keep this as a reminder that you have to remain flexible and need to stretch yourself in all aspects of your job.

A Supply Of Your Favorite Candy Bars

As much as you may want to have a glass of wine after that morning executive board meeting, you just can’t. But there’s nothing wrong having a Snickers or two before lunch.

Stress Ball

Squeeze this instead of grinding your teeth while talking on the phone with a frustrated client or board member.

Post-It Notes

Stick your best ideas and reminders all over your desk. Your staff will think you are filled with brilliant ideas, even if a note is just a reminder to buy milk on your way home.

Bottle Of Aspirin

When your emcee for the upcoming gala cancels and your development officer gives their monthly donation report, you’ll need it.

Magic Wand

Preferably an Illumination Wand like Harry Potter had, use this to show you are the magician people think you should be, or when you have to perform a quick miracle for your organization.

Lemon Drop

Referring to the candy and not the drink, it can remind you to make lemonade when life gives you lemons.

Chewbacca Electronic Mask

Yes, I mean just like the one from this viral video. Don’t forget the importance of having fun and laughing together as a staff. At Aplos we value the importance of having fun together, and our leaders are often the ones who drive that.

Energy Bar

This will come in handy for the late night editing session of grant proposals that’s due in the next 48 hours.

Duct Tape

Evidently, it seems like you should always have some around. Plus, anyone in a nonprofit leadership position is frequently expected to have the training to fix things quickly.


Being a nonprofit leader or fundraiser can be challenging, rewarding, stressful, messy, and glorious all at once. Take a few minutes to reflect on what is in your survival kit and prepare for the many challenges and opportunities that come your way while representing your amazing cause.

Best of luck!

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