First off, this problem should very rarely be a surprise. It is imperative that you monitor social networks, the biggies being Facebook, Twitter,  and Linked-In. Pay attention to the nature of the comments and remarks being posted on a regular basis. Like all the time. Know who the frequent posters are and what they tend to have to say.

Secondly:  Are your frequent posters supporters or detractors?  What are the types of comments being shared? It is a fundamental truism that people want to be heard, and the internet has made that much easier.

If something negative, incendiary or just plain nasty shows up, what is it, and who is posting it? Are they looking for a response, or making broad statements?  Listen closely for the message and who and what is driving it. Take a breath and count to 10, twice, before you let your hands near a keyboard.

Should I Ignore it?

No, don’t ignore, but be thoughtful about what you say and write. You can’t take stuff back. If you need time, acknowledge the conversation, but don’t commit to a response until you know what you want to say.

  • Who is starting this thread: someone new or one of the regulars?
  • What are they saying: is the information correct or way off base?
  • What are they asking for; an acknowledgment, a response or pot stirring?
  • Are they stating the case accurately: does their comments make sense or have merit?

Be sure you know your facts, faq’s and statistics, correctly. Only provide the correct information, don’t repeat anything but truthful information.

Reply in a timely fashion on the network where the comment is made. If it is a tweet, stay with Twitter, if it starts on Facebook, that is the only place to post your reply.

This is a tough one

Don’t take it personally. Unless it is a personal attack, and those do happen, this is not a time to be defensive or hostile. Take control of the interaction with calm, reflective language. Remember what the goal is: to defuse the bomb with no injuries. Imagine you are the person posting, how would you like to be heard? (Even if you wouldn’t be caught dead behaving and speaking as they are.)

Right or wrong, don’t be a jerk. Courtesy goes along way, even if it doesn’t start that way. If you are indeed in the wrong somehow, admit it. If you are not, being gracious has never hurt anyone.

Keyboard courage is a fact of life; learning to deal with is best is crucial. Everyone watches and listens, and your handling of this crisis will be part of your professional reputation. Handle it with care.

If you’d like help putting your non profit emergency kit together, get in touch by email here or by voice on 310 828 6979.

Read Part One Here

Read Part Two Here

Read Part Three Here

Cindy Lauren - Lauren Associates - non profit consulting

Cindy Lauren is the Principal of

Lauren Associates – non profit consulting

As well as advising Executives and Boards on all aspects of nonprofit management, the firm specializes in developing fundraising solutions for all sizes of organizations.  Connect with Cindy: Twitter, Linkedin, Quora

Image Credit:Bhautik Joshi by designwallah on Flickr.


Written while listening to: Prewriting – Music to Write to – Create Flow .