The recent surge in charges against CEO’s and senior officials for misdeeds and unethical behavior should cause all non-profit Boards to ask, ‘Are we prepared or should we be?” The Boards fundamental task in a crisis is to ensure that the organization operates legally and ethically.
Emergencies are unexpected events that cause confusion. A bad storm, a fire, flooding, the arrest of a well-known staff member can cause disarray for everyone – staff as well as Board. Wouldn’t it be wiser to have a plan in place? A crisis communication plan can be discussed and strategies identified in one Board meeting. Putting a plan in place eases the tension about handling a situation, maintaining reputation, and being prepared for the media – who always show up soon.
A recent BoardSource article (July 23, 2018) outlined the questions to be answered in comprising a plan.
- Where are our vulnerabilities?
- Who is responsible for managing the crisis, and what are his/her duties?
- Where should the command center be for responding to a crisis?
- What resources might be needed? (human resource specialist, lawyer, finance official)
- Who should be part of the crisis control team, and what are its responsibilities?
- What information is appropriate to give to the public?
- Who will speak for the organization?
It is understood that particular people who are good for a role now may change. But having a copy of the plan with notes from the Board meeting discussion will provide comfort to all – especially for the Executive Director/CEO who must lead the process now.
After the crisis is over, it’s important to visit the plan, again, and make any necessary revisions.
Author: Adrianne Geiger Dumond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org