In the line of fire

June 11, 2013

Yesterday, the Tampa Bay Times published a list of America’s 50 worst charities. These are organizations that dedicate 10% – and many times far less – of their revenue to the actual cause they say they support. At the same time, the Susan G. Komen Foundation was under fire for its $684,000 CEO salary, even as they cancel some of their popular fundraising events.

What this means to you is that it’s ever more likely that your organization will be questioned.

Are you prepared? 

  • Do you know where you stand with the watchdog organizations like Guidestar and Charity Navigator? Even if you don’t agree 100% with their methods or conclusions, it’s important to keep an eye on what’s being said about your organization, because at least some of your prospective donors will use these resources.
  • Does everyone in a communications role at your organization have complete and understandable information and talking points about your business model? This includes your front line customer service staff.   
  • Have you set protocols for who can answer certain kinds of questions and at what point people should be sent further up the flagpole?  
  • Is someone at your organization actually assigned to keep this information current and top of mind?   

Your public reputation is everything. And it’s up to you to protect it. 

Granted, the organizations mentioned above have some serious answering to do, and it appears that some of them should even no longer be in business. But assuming that yours is on the up and up, then it’s critical to approach your communications with knowledge and preparation, particularly in times when you don’t control the conversation. 

Scrambling around searching for information and creating talking points on the fly is exactly when mistakes are made. It’s a risky way to treat the reputation of your organization. Take the opportunity now to be prepared.