The Mistakes of a Crisis

posted by
Lars Ward,

Research Aid,
ASU Lodestar Center  

Today the power and decisions of an organization’s top leadership are more apparent than ever. Susan G. Komen has been stumbling since the ill-fated decision to end its partnership with Planned Parenthood. Komen’s leadership responded quickly to the public’s and their supporters’ criticism by restoring their partnership days later, but the organization has not looked the same since.  Recently, Komen’s president Liz Thompson announced that she will be stepping down in September but she leaves the organization with its long-term health in jeopardy; in some cases fundraising is down 20 to 30%, and as numbers for fall fundraising events come in, that figure may grow.

Susan G. Komen’s misstep is a loss for the entire nonprofit sector. Last year Komen was one of the most respected and well-known nonprofit brands, and served as a model for many organizations to aspire toward. Even for students of public relations crises, few predicted that Komen’s actions would prove to be this difficult to overcome.  Like many others, I hope to see Susan G. Komen regain its form and come out of these events as a stronger organization, but the mistakes made earlier this year provide an excellent learning opportunity.

Abuse and Controversy in the Nonprofit Sector

posted by Jill Watts,
Director of Capacity
Building Initiatives
ASU Lodestar Center

"Abuses found at local charity!" It's not an uncommon headline, unfortunately. And those of us who have toiled for years in the nonprofit sector cringe every time we hear of a new scandal or fraudulent activity because we fear the fallout that inevitably occurs. After all, if one nonprofit has unscrupulous practices, then it follows that we all must.

I recently read an article about the latest nonprofit embroiled in a financial investigation. At this point, I should mention my disclaimer that I have no independent knowledge of this particular case, and the ASU Lodestar Center takes no position on any organization involved in a dispute of this kind. Whether the organization did or didn't do what it said it would do isn't even the point of this blog. The point is this:

When confronted with the funding discrepancies of the organization he had founded, the executive director, who did in fact pay himself a salary, had this to say: "I never said I was a professional at this."

I was utterly astonished and flabbergasted upon reading his statement. In what other field would the head of an organization be allowed to screw up and then claim ignorance? Can you imagine patronizing any other business, restaurant, or store, receiving no product or service in exchange for your money, and listening to the owner say, "Well... I never said I was a professional."