This announcement comes after last week’s news stories surrounding Komen’s decision to halt funding to Planned Parenthood. The funding decision was made in response to a congressional committee launching an investigation of Planned Parenthood’s use of taxpayer funds.
However, the media and a vocal public outcry demonstrated that decision was an unpopular one. In just a few days Planned Parenthood benefitted from media firestorm and raised over $3 million. Susan G. Komen for Cure then announced that they had reversed their decision to withdraw the $650,000 of funding to Planned Parenthood.
What can your nonprofit learn from this story?
1: Partnerships and politics matter to donors.
2: Risk and crisis management are essential for nonprofits.
1. Partnerships and Politics Matter
Donors care about causes and will support organizations that work towards one they believe in. However, their support is not hinged on the cause alone. Donors will examine with whom the organization works — whether it is another partner organization, a staff member, or a board director.
Utilizing the internet, donors can quickly learn about your organization’s board members, leadership staff, and other organizations your nonprofit considers partners.
Last week’s story between Susan G. Koman for the Cure and Planned Parenthood showed how quickly a story could spread – thanks to the prevalence of social media. It has almost become certain that supporters will learn news stories about your nonprofit in a short amount of time.
Donors will also question the actions of a nonprofit group when they believe they are politically motivated. This can work for and against a nonprofit. Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s initial move of withdrawing funding to Planned Parenthood was met with both praise and criticism. Some Pro-Life donors seemed pleased with the action, while some Pro-Choice supporters were upset. Either way – the public seems to expect nonprofit organizations to be apolitical – and reacts accordingly when politics seem to be involved.
2. Risk and Crisis Management
Perhaps the biggest lesson to take away from Susan G. Koman for the Cure’s media storm last week is the importance of risk and crisis management.
Nonprofit organizations need to consider what risks may occur as they conduct their programs and activities. Read more (Risk Management for Nonprofits) on how nonprofits can prepare.
Nonprofits also should develop a crisis management plan to deal with the effects of when a risk becomes a reality. In the case of Susan G. Koman for the Cure, the public relations crisis affected their reputation as one of the nation’s most-trusted charities. Building a solid reputation can take years, but bringing it down can take days.
Nonprofits can face a variety of crises. Whether it is dealing with a public backlash to a programmatic decision, a criminal act, or a form of negligence, your organization needs to have a plan. Your crisis management plan should guide the organization as you mitigate damage.
Depending on the crisis, your plan for addressing the situation will vary. One aspect of your plan that is incredibly important no matter what type of crisis your organization may face is your communications plan.
Keep the following issues in mind when developing your communications plan:
- How will leadership staff and the board of directors be notified?
- How will we notify other stakeholders?
- What is our policy on who can communicate with the media?
- Are there any confidentiality issues we need to be aware of?
- How will we communicate with the media?
Nonprofit staff members and the board of directors should be trained on crisis management ahead of time. When a crisis occurs, your plan should be to mitigate damage and end the crisis. You do not want to spend time training when you should be mitigating. Crisis management needs to occur as soon as possible. In order for this to happen, your staff needs to know how to identify when a crisis is happening and the appropriate actions that need to follow.
Cullinane Law Group: Risk Management for Nonprofits
This article was prepared by Kathy Zarate of Cullinane Law Group.
Los Angeles Times: Karen Handel explains Komen resignation, blasts Planned Parenthood