Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Dealing with Uncomfortable Charity PR Questions

In a recent article by Bill Shore, Darell Hammond, and Amy Celep in the Stanford Social Media Review, the writers made the point that many of the fastest-growing non profit organizations began with both good intentions, but also naive ideas about the magnitude and complexity of the issues they were formed to tackle.

Ronn Torossian agrees this is a common problem that can become a charity PR challenge if the entity is not prepared to deal with the questions that arise.

But that in and of itself can become a challenge, particularly when your organization or cause takes off. Suddenly you are up to your eyeballs in overwhelming success, trying to manage a monster that is growing faster than you could have ever imagined. You are taking on new partners, recruiting and tasking volunteers, and working on how to best bring in donations and then manage those funds.
Then, suddenly, someone asks you why you are not making more of an impact if you are “such a great success.”

Maybe the question is snarky, and maybe it is honest, but either way, you are compelled to offer an answer. What will you say? How can you answer the inconvenient questions?
Torossian suggests you prepare ahead of time to deal with these inquiries, so you can have the answers ready no matter what else you have going on.

One popular strategy is to acknowledge the scope of the problem and admit you are working hard in order to do more. This is an opportunity to recruit more help, and to “make the ask” for financial support. With more resources, even more can be done.

Another strategy is to answer the question without really answering it; to instead respond with a strong list of successes and exceeded benchmarks. This response focuses on what IS being done rather than what is not being accomplished.

You may even wish to consider combining these approaches. Leading in with all that has been accomplished while also letting people know there’s a lot more work yet to be done… work that can be accomplished with their help.

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