Nonprofit Crisis Communications

Ann C. Fitzgerald, President
Mark Zuckerberg has taken a beating lately for his initial silence following a report that a political consulting firm used data improperly obtained from 50 million Facebook users.

Experts faulted him for not following the tried-and-true script for crisis communications: Get out in front of the story, say you’re sorry, inform the authorities and public, and take quick action.

Nonprofits also face crises. A leader resigns. Donor money is misappropriated. An employee is charged with a crime. In these cases, the same rules apply. The Colorado Nonprofit Association recommends all nonprofits put in place:

  • A written crisis communications policy
  • A checklist of crisis management steps
  • An emergency phone tree
  • A detailed crisis communications plan
  • A guide to help you prepare for a crisis before it happens
  • A process for identifying, and preparing for, potentially foreseeable crises
  • A decision tree for potential actions and guiding considerations
  • A post-crisis review

Despite Zuckerberg’s misjudgment, Facebook will undoubtedly weather this storm. Prepare your nonprofit to handle the unforeseen challenges ahead.

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