Turn problems into opportunities

When bad things happen at your nonprofit, look for ways to put them to productive use.

Identify what went wrong, and how it happened. Correct the problem. And make the changes needed to make sure it does not happen again.

Then summarize the experience in writing, and use it as a learning tool — as appropriate — to help your board, staff, donors and other partners and supporters, respectively, understand that you are accountable for what you do, responsible in handling problems, able to learn from mistakes, and willing to share your organization’s flaws with the people who care about your cause.

If the problem is complicated, consider writing a short case study that examines in more detail what happened, what you did about it, what difference your changes made, and what you learned.

For the support they count on from donors, volunteers, partners and other supporters, charities must establish trust, and that requires they show integrity, accountability, openness, flexibility and continual learning.

So when your organization messes up, figure out what went wrong, fix it, make sure you don’t repeat it, and then document what happened and how you handled it, and use the lessons you learned to show the people you depend on that you mean business and deserve their support.

Want professional help?

Philanthropy North Carolina is a consulting practice that provides writing and strategic communications support for nonprofits, foundations, colleges and universities, and others working for social good.

To find out more about hiring Philanthropy North Carolina to work with your organization to improve your communications, contact Todd Cohen at 919.272.2051 or toddcohen49@gmail.com.

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