Why we all need a fit for purpose Crisis Management Plan

Recent media-bashing of aid charities such as Oxfam should serve as a wake-up call to us all.  Whilst the actions of some employees has been completely indefensible the organisation itself does an enormous amount of excellent work and I truly believe that Oxfam will learn, improve and strengthen as a result of these revelations.

But what can others in the sector learn from the situation?  Well the issue of safeguarding checks has been discussed at length, but this episode is a stark reminder to Trustees and management teams of the need for robust Crisis Management systems.

Many larger organisations will have internal PR teams able to deal with initial press contacts, but smaller charities need to prepare for crisis situations too.  Ask yourself who would be best placed to handle media contact should any of your staff or volunteers place you in an uncomfortable position?  Who would manage the media to ensure a consistency of message is delivered?  And what would happen if the media made contact at a weekend, or outside normal office hours?

Investing in media training for key staff is always money well spent, enabling individuals to deal confidently with media enquiries and get the charity’s message over in the manner you would want.

None of us want to be in the position of defending our organisation at a time of difficulty, but the knowledge that the charity is equipped for such a situation and has a robust crisis plan in place will provide some reassurance to Trustees and charity leaders.  Like paying the insurance premium, we don’t ever want to use it but knowing it’s there allows us to sleep easy.