It’s a fundraiser’s worst nightmare, the head of your nonprofit is charged with multiple counts of wrongdoing which allegedly took place over dozens of years. Or you are about to kick off your annual fund drive when the students at your university occupy the building that houses your calling program.
These and other types of adverse events will be among those discussed during this Saturday’s pre-conference session, Fundraising in a Sea of Adversity, at the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators’ 2017 national conference. Tamara Himmelstein, Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Campus Life at Occidental College, and I will touch on issues such as:
- What makes a crisis a crisis
- Steps one might take with constituents
In When Your Company Has a Problem It Can’t Ignore (Malachi O’Connor and Barry Dornfeld, Harvard Business Review, October 7, 2014) outline several elements of a crisis:
- Challenges identify
- Demands attention of the whole organization
So what’s a fundraiser to do after checking off one or more items on the above list? Communicate. Rod Kirsch, who was senior VP at Penn State during the Jerry Sandusky scandal, urged his staff members to reach out to their top 10 donors with a call or visit. The key is to listen, hear what donors are thinking, answer only that which you are able to answer, and offer to keep in touch.
What steps would you take if a significant crisis occurred during an annual or capital campaign? Are there resources that you have found particularly helpful in guiding your strategy and tactics for addressing crises? I hope to hear from you.