Facilitated Disaster Planning

photo dryingThe two biggest obstacles to creating a disaster plan faced by cultural organizations are the need for more information and manpower.

CERC was there to help in 2014-15, by implementing a one-year program to facilitate disaster planning at cultural organizations all over Maine. A team of trained facilitators drawn from FEMA Corps worked directly with 26 cultural institutions, representing a broad range of museums, libraries, and archives, to help them develop a plan appropriate for their specific circumstances. A short extension of the project allowed 4 more institutions to work with contract facilitators to create disaster plans in the spring of 2016.

This project was possible in large part because of a grant to the Maine State Museum from Jane’s Trust.

Would you be interested in getting a a grant to hire a facilitator to work your organization through the disaster planning process outlined on the CERC web site? The National Endowment for the Humanities is especially interested in seeing disaster planning projects for its Preservation Assistance for Smaller Institutions grant program – the deadline is May 3, 2016. Contact CERC if you would like help pulling a grant proposal together!


How it worked:

  • There were two rounds of facilitated planning – one in the fall, from September – December, and one in the spring, from March – May. Organizations had to apply to participate.
  • Participant organizations were selected to represent a broad range of institutional sizes, geographical locations, collections types, and building construction. However, the most important qualification was the organization’s demonstration that all the stakeholders (whether paid or volunteer staff, board members, or other governing authority members) were committed to devoting the time and resources to completing a disaster plan.
  • CERC worked with participants to determine the appropriate benchmarks for the organization to achieve, based on the benchmarks identified in the Essential, Enhanced and Advanced levels of disaster planning on the CERC web site. CERC scheduled 4-11 meetings with the organization to achieve the benchmarks (the number of meetings being dependent on the benchmarks to be achieved) and “homework” was assigned to the organization between each meeting.  This process required the participation of several stakeholders from within the organization – an effective disaster plan can not be the work of only one or two people.
  • Facilitators ran each meeting, took notes, then compiled the results into a final disaster plan for the organization. Where appropriate, the facilitators may also help make connections to local first responders or other relevant contacts.
  • In some cases, the organization’s experience was turned into a case study, so that other similar organizations can get a sense of what some of the successful strategies and unexpected challenges in developing a disaster plan may be.document drying

Is your organization ready to get planning? Take a look at (and use!) the meeting materials developed for this project under the Essential, Enhanced and Advanced disaster planning tabs.

Have questions? Please contact Ellen Dyer, CERC Coordinator, at CERC.Maine@gmail.com or (207) 287-6696.

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