What could possible go wrong? Nonproft Emergency Planning

But as with so many things, easier said than done.

How do you come up with a Plan B, contingency plan, or exit strategy for your nonprofit, amid the constant need for fundraising, outreach and program delivery? One thoughtful thing at a time, that’s how.

First off, think about what could possibly go wrong for the organization: what is going on out there that has the possibility of a problem?

  • Media/Social Media/Public Perception
  • Board/Employee Unrest
  • Donors Losing Enthusiasm

Simply considering what you might have to face is a big first step, even if you don’t come up with a plan right away. What threats to your daily wellbeing are out there? List them.

Learn From Others

Secondly, use history, yours and others: what other problems, disasters and emergencies have you faced? The stories that get repeated are the ones with extremes, of good or of bad, but mostly bad.

  • There was a $250,000 event with only a single valet, which meant the last memory of the guests was a 45 minute wait for the car.
  • The installation dinner was perfect, but it uncharacteristically rained that evening, and there were no canopies or umbrellas: wet hair, ruined shoes and soggy guests.

If these had been either of your events, what would you have done?

Anyone and everyone who has managed a company, produced an event or organized a campaign will have had some less than desirable things happen; ask what they did and what worked, or didn’t.

Who is your fire department? And what’s their number?

Who do you, can you, call when you have a big problem? The time to decide this is NOW, before the rains come, and the valet calls in sick or your best staff member has to leave for a month-long family emergency during your busiest season.

Review your board members, who has the background to help you create a go-to plan for a problem? Among your colleagues, who has shared their experience for similar happenings?

An emergency is rarely scheduled, so even beginning this process may not have you prepared, but by considering about what might confront you, you start to develop that kind of planning. The smart manager expects something to go wrong, with an idea of a solution someplace in their back pocket.

If you’d like help setting your plan up, get in touch by email here or by voice on 310 828 6979.

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:What could possibly go wrong? by Don Shall on Flickr.


Written while listening to: Surreal | July 2013 – Music to Create Flow .