When controversy strikes

December 4, 2012

Information flows openly and quickly. Controversy can strike in moments.  

Nonprofit organizations are particularly at risk for scrutiny, as they hold a special place in the hearts of the people who care about them. A poor response can erode trust and impact your efforts to engage the community and raise funds for years to come.

Preparation matters.

Effective crisis communication and management does not come naturally. Confidence comes from practice. Identify your core spokespeople and leaders. Provide them with regular training and information to build skills. Continuously think ahead about issues that may come forward. And don’t step up to the microphone without having spoken key points out loud more than once.

Presentation matters.

Answer questions clearly and concisely.

Don’t ever say anything you may later need to retract.

If you don’t know the answer, admit it, say what you’ll do to find out, and move on.

Never discount the concern of the public by saying things like “this is not a big issue,” or “you don’t understand how this works.” That may be true, but it’s your job to respect their concerns and walk them through the facts to build a greater understanding. 

Crisis is never a welcome circumstance. It comes to nearly every organization at one time or another. It means that people care.