Crises come in many shapes and sizes and can happen to any organization, even the best non-profit. Crisis management plans for non-profits are very similar to corporate plans. The main goal is to protect the reputation and bottom line of the organization. Recently, I attended a conference where Pierpont CEO Phil Morabito and Executive Counsel Terry Hemeyer presented on how to manage crisis in a non-profit organization. Here are a few key insights that I learned from the presentation.
Know Your Vulnerabilities
Every organization has faults. These weak points should be managed, not ignored. An organization must be aware of its vulnerabilities in order to form a plan ahead of time. Having a plan that addresses liabilities in place before a crisis unfolds will help to prevent a crisis and aid in minimizing damage. Taking control with the plan is a great way to address problems and take ownership of the situation. Ignoring vulnerabilities is a recipe for a crisis to occur.
People are often the biggest cause of a crisis. That’s why it is vital to have a clear plan that outlines how people are to conduct themselves in an organization. During a crisis, have an outline of which specific team members are to complete certain tasks.
One important task is the presentation of information to the public. This role is best left to the institution’s leadership or professional communicators. These people will be the most knowledgeable of the crisis and have the specific training to handle these situations. Having one qualified spokesperson is the safest way to release information during a crisis situation. This way there is a uniform message being sent to the public without conflicting information.
In the midst of a crisis, remember only factual information is acceptable to be made public. Truthful information will minimize future damage and keep the reputation of the non-profit at its best. During the process of releasing information to the public it is important to remember to release facts and essential information in a timely manner.
Every non-profit organization’s goal is to protect the long-term viability of the institution. Along with knowing one’s vulnerabilities and having a set plan in case of crisis, it is also important to remember to keep others in the organization focused on the business at hand.