Crisis Management / Organizational Turnaround
For the better part of my career, I have been a change leader, heading turnaround efforts and managing crises that threatened to destroy an organization. In one case, I was able to take a moribund faith-based institution and, with the help of clergy and trustees, reinvigorate the membership through effective programming, creative fundraising, fiscally responsible policies and procedures, and staff realignments. In another, again in partnership with colleagues, donors, and board members, I led a turnaround that rescued a nine-decade old educational and cultural institution from what seemed like certain bankruptcy. Through a combination of financial and programmatic fixes, I was proud to steer a turnaround that almost everyone thought would be impossible.
For most nonprofits it is already challenging enough to do the work we are supposed to do. When something goes wrong, whatever it is – a personnel scandal, a financial emergency, a regulatory change – most nonprofits are not staffed to respond appropriately. Media expertise (social and traditional) is needed, effective messaging and branding are urgent, and communication with multiple constituents and stakeholders becomes paramount.
Too often people think they can do it themselves using their existing resources, often with disastrous consequences. A CEO, in particular, must proceed with caution. It is tricky business to go it alone. The reality is that most such efforts end in failure. The value of seasoned outside counsel cannot be overstated. If there is one place that an NPO should avoid trying to save dollars or a CEO should stop trying to tough it out on his own, it is when a crisis arises.
I wish you no crises for many years. But when one occurs, when change is in order, when a turnaround is imperative – and that day is sure to come – I can help you as I have helped others.