You Only Learn Who Is Swimming Naked When the Tide Goes Out: This is a great quote from Warren Buffet, in response to some frightening and ultimately disastrous behavior in major financial institutions that resulted in the recent economic terror and pain for so many. But this idea has so many applications, and particularly with nonprofit organizations. I rant and rave about planning, accountability, communication and clarity. Make the schedule, set up the benchmarks and always, always have a Plan B.

Pay now or later?

I have found there are two groups that tend to do this: those who understand that they needn’t have the experience of a problem in order to assure the development of a plan for one, just in case; and those who have gotten into some trouble. Trouble means having to stop and fix it and having fallback position doubles that effort right off the bat. What do we say, what do we do, who do we talk to?

  • Too great a reliance on a single donor or funder who suddenly pulls funding
  • A loose cannon in social media
  • A fantastic fundraising program that falls flat
  • A new player or competitor appears on the field

What would you do if any of the above happened to you?

What’s your plan?

These things happen, along with other possible trainwrecks. Times get tough for everyone, and sometimes, even with some warning, they are unavoidable. And maybe imaging stuff like this isn’t fun either, but the investment of time to consider them will be well worth it. Even if you don’t devel9op a line-by-line emergency kit, having considered what to do will be a big help.

Think about what you might do in the face of an institutional crisis, and who needs to be involved. Make a few notes and list them in a clearly marked Emergency Notes file. Sometimes you are the bug, and sometimes you are the windshield, but in any case, you don’t want to be caught naked, when all that is required is to put on your suit before you get in the water.

If you need some help in creating a nonprofit emergency kit, scream by email here or by voice on 310 828 6979.

Cindy Lauren - Lauren Associates - non profit consultingCindy 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.

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Image Credit:
Morning swim off the west beach by WordShore on Flickr.