Thursday, November 29, 2007

Perception vs. Reality

The Red Cross is the standard-bearer for most American non-profits. When catastrophe hits, donation dollars flow in to the Red Cross before they find their way anywhere else.

The problem is, as the Red Cross continues to face challenges year after year, Americans begin to assume that all non-profit organizations have organizational problems. And with that assumption, donation dollars begin to dry up.
"...for it all to unravel in six months is just another mistake, just like all of the others this organization had made before.”

That sense of dismay echoed throughout the charity world yesterday.

“The tragedy of this is that the American Red Cross is probably the best-known nonprofit organization in this country,” said Diana Aviv, president and chief executive of the Independent Sector, a nonprofit trade association. “When the stories about it are more about governance and management and less about how it saves lives, it’s sad and not just for the Red Cross.”

In the aftermath of this latest crisis, organizations need to find a way to make their own stories rise above the rubble of the Red Cross mess. A clear PR strategy that (1) focuses on compelling human stories, (2) highlights the impact of donor dollars, and (3) reinforces the transparency of the organization's infrastructure becomes even more critical to the organization's success.

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