Posts tagged ‘management’

April 1, 2020

Stress Relief for Fundraisers: A Special Webinar for You

Help is on the way!

In the best of times, we all experience occasional stress. Sometimes, it’s personal stress. Sometimes, it’s professional stress. Sometimes, it’s both. Now, with the coronavirus pandemic, we are all dealing with a massive, new level of tension.

Most of us are working from home, many for the first time. We don’t go out much. We have personal financial concerns. We have loved ones we worry about and care for. We have anxiety about our own health.

Fundraising professionals are also concerned about continuing to raise the vital resources to help nonprofit organizations fulfill their missions, now more important than ever. As you know, we shoulder a tremendous burden.

If giving into stress were helpful, that would be fine. Unfortunately, stress itself is corrosive. It drains our energy. It erodes our immune system. Stress causes physiological and psychological damage. It makes us less pleasant to be around. It makes us less able to care for others.

To help you cope more effectively with the stress in your life, I’m hosting a special webinar for fundraising and nonprofit professionals:

Stress Relief for Fundraisers

Date: Monday, April 6, 2020, 4:00-5:00 pm (EDT)

Expert Instructor: Michelle Stortz, C-IAYT, ERYT500, MFA

Requested Donation: This is a donation-based webinar. Any contribution amount from $1 to $100 will grant you access. The suggested amount is $20. Your donation will help Michelle to continue to provide services for people living with cancer and chronic diseases at little to no cost.

Platform: This class will happen via Zoom. The link for joining will be sent 15 minutes before the session. Registration will end 15 minutes before the session.

You’ll Learn: Discover practices for managing stress in difficult times:

        • Learn simple breathing techniques to ward off anxiety
        • Get grounded in your body through simple movements
        • Quiet your mind with concentration practices
        • Cultivate a framework for seeing what’s really here

Register Now: Click here to register for this webinar at Eventbrite.

Despite the challenges we face, there are plenty of opportunities to learn and grow. Let’s start by integrating some helpful practices for managing stress. Join me in this one-hour class on stress reduction. When you take some time to take better care of yourself, you’ll be in a much better position to take care of others.

While the webinar will provide a number of techniques for coping with stress, I want to give you one simple technique right now.

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March 18, 2020

Are You Feeling Overwhelmed? Take a Moment for YOU.

With life comes stress. With coronavirus comes much more stress.

When times get more challenging, we need to be especially careful to take care of ourselves. If we don’t take proper care of ourselves, we’ll be in no condition to help others. We need to practice self-care to ensure both our physical and mental wellbeing.

Knowing that, my wife and I went for a long walk to get out of the house and away from the depressing, on-going news about coronavirus (COVID-19). We wanted to clear our heads, relax, gain some perspective, escape a bit.

While on our walk, we came across some daffodils. The sight reminded me of a poem I enjoy reading every springtime. We appreciated our break, and felt recharged. Based on the initial responses I received when I mentioned this on LinkedIn, I decided to share the poem, and a photo I took, to give you a bit of break from all the news, too. I hope you enjoy them.

I also hope you take the time to take care of yourself. Eat right. Exercise. Meditate. Phone friends. Go for a walk. Do whatever works for you. The coronavirus situation will not end in a week or two. The crisis will likely last for months with the economic ramifications felt even longer. We’re in a marathon, not a sprint. Take care of yourself. Pace yourself.

Okay, enough preaching. I hope you enjoy the poem and the above photo:

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March 6, 2020

How will Coronavirus Affect Your Fundraising Efforts?

Coronavirus is spreading with profound implications for the nonprofit sector. As I write this post, there have been 98,088 global documented cases of COVID-19 resulting in 3,356 deaths.

This is my third post about coronavirus. Previously, I looked at how you can keep yourself and your colleagues healthy, and I have written about what the Association of Fundraising Professionals is doing to ensure a safe, successful International Conference later this month.

Now, I want to look at some of the ways the advance of COVID-19 might affect your fundraising efforts. Most of the points were shared with me by Ken Wyman, a Canadian-based consultant and Professor Emeritus from the Fundraising Management graduate program at Humber College. I thank Ken for generously sharing his insights.

While there is no reason for you to panic, you and your nonprofit organization should prepare for what is happening and what could happen. To help you with your planning, here is a list of just 17 ways your fundraising efforts could be affected:

1. Special events may need to be canceled. Already, the American Physical Society canceled its annual conference; the Global Health Conference has been canceled; the American Bar Association canceled its National Institute on White Collar Crime; Chicago State University has canceled some basketball games; and other nonprofit and for-profit events have been canceled. You might need to cancel certain events out of real health concerns or because attendance would be low because of fear.

2. Staff and volunteers may need to work from home, and/or take sick days. Sick people should stay out of the office rather than come in and risk infecting colleagues. Not only will this protect people from coronavirus, but it will also protect them from many other illnesses as well. To allow for this, your organization might need to revise its policies and procedures.

3. Donors may value your health-related projects more. If your nonprofit is a healthcare organization or a charity that offers health-related programs, you may find greater donor interest in your services. Be sure to let people know how your organization is responding to the current health situation.

4. Corporate donations may go down as profits and stock markets decline. The US stock market has seen several days of sharp decline and extreme volatility. Leading economists anticipate a global reduction in Gross Domestic Product because of COVID-19. A decline in corporate profits will likely result in a decrease in corporate giving. When appealing to corporations, be sure to demonstrate how giving to your organization will deliver value to the corporation.

5. Don’t lick envelopes for thank-you cards. Eww! The same goes for any correspondence you mail. Instead, for high-volume mailings, automate the process; for low-volume mailings, use a damp sponge or paper towel to moisten envelopes. The bonus is that you won’t risk getting a paper cut on your tongue.

6. This is a good time to remind donors about gifts in their Wills. A gift in a Will is a great way for someone to support their favorite charities when they might not be able or willing to do so with a current cash gift.

7. Isolated lonely donors may welcome phone calls. As people start spending more time at home rather than risking a trip out in public, some will begin to feel isolated. These supporters will appreciate a phone call from you even more than ever. Call donors to thank them, update them about a program, survey them, etc.

8. Virtual board meetings are less infectious and better for the environment. Instead of gathering your board members around a conference table, you can host a virtual board meeting. You have a number of technology options to accomplish this ranging from a simple conference call to a video meeting. The bonus is that using technology will reduce greenhouse gases as board members will not have to drive or fly to the meeting.

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February 28, 2020

Coronavirus: 20 Survival Tips for You and Your Charity

When you and your staff and colleagues are healthy, you’ll all be better able to raise more money for your charity and help those your nonprofit organization serves. Unfortunately, the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) threatens both our physical and mental health. So, to reduce your stress level and help keep you physically healthy, I want to share 20 useful survival tips with you.

However, before I share those important tips, I want to acknowledge that it has been several weeks since I’ve posted. In a future post, I’ll explain the reasons for my break. For now, I just want to thank you for your patience and for continuing to be a loyal reader.

Okay, here are 20 things you can do to protect yourself, and folks you care about, from coronavirus (and other viruses):

Tip 1: Do NOT be stupid. A survey by 5WPR found that 38 percent of American beer drinkers will not buy Corona beer, supposedly in part, because of fear it is linked to the virus. However, many of those surveyed never consumed Corona beer in the first place. So, let’s look at what Corona drinkers said. Among those who drink Corona, the survey found that four percent would no longer drink the product at all while 14 percent said they would not do so in public. To be clear, Corona beer and the coronavirus have nothing to do with one another. My friend Linda Lysakowski jokingly suggested that people might also have been afraid of Lyme Disease since Corona beer is often consumed with a lime wedge; again, one doesn’t have anything to do with the other. It’s important that we think clearly under normal circumstances; it’s especially critical now.

Tip 2: Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Wash them often. Not only will this help protect you from coronavirus, washing will also protect you from other viruses including the common cold, norovirus, and flu.

Coronavirus image from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Tip 3: Hand sanitizers are good at killing bacteria. But, they do NOT kill all viruses. Don’t rely on them. Wash your hands often with soap and water.

Tip 4: Stop shaking hands when you greet people. Instead, fist bump, elbow bump, nod, or bow. This will help protect you and the other person from any number of infections including coronavirus. Refusing to shake hands is not rude. Instead, it’s being caring and considerate. Remember, people can be contagious without exhibiting any symptoms themselves.

Tip 5: If you cough or sneeze, do so into a tissue and then through away the tissue. Then, wash your hands. Alternatively, cough or sneeze into the crook of your arm.

Tip 6: Clean the surfaces of commonly used or touched objects and surfaces. For example, clean your cell phone with an alcohol wipe periodically. Wipe down your computer keyboard with a sanitizing wipe. Do the same with office and home doorknobs. You get the idea.

Tip 7: If you are sick, stay home. Whether you have coronavirus, a cold, or the flu, stay home so you won’t infect co-workers or the general public. As a manager, do not reward sick people for coming to work while punishing sick people for staying home. Years ago at my company, we had a new manager who came to us from billionaire Ross Perot’s company, Electronic Data Systems (EDS). She encouraged us to change our sick-day policy which granted staff a limited number of use-it-or-lose-it sick time. Instead, she proposed we adopt the EDS policy of unlimited sick time. While I was skeptical, we tried it. The result was that our employee absenteeism rate plummeted. The primary reason the policy worked was that it encouraged ill people to remain home rather than come into the office where they would infect colleagues.

Tip 8: Whenever possible, use the self-checkout at stores. Cashiers can help spread disease through their interactions with multiple people.

Tip 9: Avoid touching your face. Viruses on your hands can be transferred to your nose, mouth, or eyes and infect you. This is more difficult than you’d expect. We touch our faces surprisingly often during the course of a day. Minimizing face touching takes practice.

Tip 10: Minimize use of air travel, cruise travel, and public transportation. A number of large companies have banned non-essential travel. As I sat down to write this piece, the latest company to announce this step was J.P. Morgan. Airlines are already seeing a drop in ticketing and, therefore, are canceling flights.

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November 26, 2019

Is One Charity about to Make You Look Bad?

The Charities Aid Foundation of America might have made your nonprofit organization look bad last year. Warning: They’re about to do it again!

Let me explain.

If you’ve sent your year-end appeal, written a solid thank-you letter series, and prepared a donor-engagement plan, you might believe you’ll be all set to take a holiday break between Christmas and the New Year. If that’s what you’re thinking, you’re not alone. Many charities operate with a skeleton staff between the holidays while others shutdown completely.

However, while many nonprofit organizations wind down in the closing weeks of the year, many donors are gearing up their philanthropic activity. Many donors make their philanthropic decisions at the end of the year, often in the closing days of the year. While the current federal tax law means fewer people itemize their deductions when filing their taxes, many of those people still make late year-end charitable gifts. Furthermore, many wealthy people who do itemize will wait until the closing days of the year before making their philanthropic gifts.

Some of your year-end donors will have questions. They may wonder about the best way to give (i.e., cash, appreciated stock, Donor Advised Fund recommendation, etc.). Others may have questions about your organization’s programs and areas of greatest need. Still others may simply need to know the formal name of your organization to put on their check.

If individuals with questions are unable to reach you for answers, they may not give or they may give elsewhere. This is something CAF America understands.

Last year, Ted Hart, ACFRE, CAP, President & CEO of CAF America, sent an email wishing donors a happy holiday and announcing his organization’s extended holiday hours. Not only would someone be available throughout the holiday season, staff would be available until 8:00 PM EST, well beyond standard business hours. Hart provided an email address and phone number. The email encouraged recipients to reach out if they needed any help or had any questions. You can find a copy of Hart’s email message and my detailed analysis of it by clicking here.

Underscoring his organization’s donor-centered orientation, Hart concluded his message by writing:

It is our pleasure to be of service to your domestic and international philanthropy on a timetable that suits you best.”

Hart’s email let supporters know that the organization is there to meet their needs on their terms. Even if they didn’t need to contact the organization as December 31 approached, they still appreciated knowing that the organization cared enough about them to remain accessible.

Based on the response to last year’s extended hours, CAF America will be doing the same this year beginning December 9. Hart explains, “We had many donors who made use of the extended hours. Many are very busy during the holidays and regular business hours do not always support busy holiday schedules.”

By comparison with CAF America, does your organization look good or bad as the year comes to a close?

I’m not suggesting that you need to stay at your desk through the end of the year. However, I am suggesting you remain accessible. Fortunately, technology allows you to be reachable without having to remain in the office. For example, you can set email alerts on your cell phone. Also, you can forward your office calls to your cell phone. So, whether or not you remain in the office, you can still be available to individuals contemplating a donation to your organization.

If, like CAF America, you let people know that you will remain available, you’ll be showing them that you care about them. Your organization’s supporters will appreciate the extra effort you make to be of service even if they don’t have any year-end needs.

At this time of year, the public expects to be inundated with charity appeals seeking support. What people do not expect is a message offering good wishes and service. So, pleasantly surprise folks this holiday season. Show individuals you care about each of them by letting them know you’re there for them. Offer them assistance. Give them an opportunity to engage. Provide useful information.

To determine if your organization is donor centered as the year draws to a close, ask yourself these questions:

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October 29, 2019

Raise More Money When You Avoid the 7 Deadly Sins of Fundraising

Fundraising success depends on having a good cause. It also requires that fundraisers do things the right way. But, none of that is enough. To successfully raise money, fundraisers must also avoid making costly mistakes, either unknowingly or (and you would never do this, right?) knowingly.

Making mistakes can cause your organization to lose donors and have a difficult time finding new ones. In some cases, one charity’s mistakes can harm the reputation of the entire nonprofit sector causing even innocent organizations to lose support.

Philanthropy researchers have shown us that the more someone trusts a nonprofit organization, the more likely they are to give. Furthermore, the more they trust a charity, the more money they are likely to donate. A report issued by Independent Sector stated:

The public is demanding a greater demonstration of ethical behavior by all of our institutions and leaders ….To the extent the public has doubts about us, we shall be less able to fulfill our public service.”

In short, trust affects both propensity for giving and the amount given. Those who have a high confidence in charities as well as believe in their honesty and ethics give an average annual contribution of about 50 percent more than the amount given by those sharing neither opinion.

You can read more about the research into trust and philanthropy in an article I wrote a number of years ago for the International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing.

For the Association of Fundraising Professionals Ethics Awareness Month,  I wrote a feature article for the October issue of Advancing Philanthropy magazine: “Ethics, Fundraising, and Leadership: Avoid the Seven Deadly Sins of Fundraising.” As I pointed out:

You’re a good person. At the very least, you try to be a good person.

However, that’s not good enough. Effective fundraising demands more of us. Every action we take, no matter how small or large, has the potential to build or erode public trust, which could have a corresponding impact on philanthropic support.

Among other things, being a fundraising professional means you must always strive for excellence while avoiding missteps that could have costly consequences for you and/or your organization. Fortunately, you do not have to endure risky mistakes to learn from them. Instead, thanks to media headlines, you can learn from the mistakes of others.”

In the AFP article, I discuss seven missteps made by real charities. While there are certainly more than seven deadly fundraising sins, my article highlights common issues of concern. For example, conflicts of interest was rated among the top ethical concerns of fundraisers, according to a recent AFP survey. In my article, I explore this issue citing a real-world example:

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October 18, 2019

11 Things You Need to Know When Looking for a New Job

The high-rate of nonprofit staff turnover has been a topic of discussion for decades. Most recently, a Harris Poll study conducted for The Chronicle of Philanthropy and the Association of Fundraising Professionals has fueled the conversation. Harris found that more than half of the fundraising professionals in Canada and the USA that were surveyed say they plan to leave their job within the next two years.

Over the years, much has been written about what it will take to reduce the turnover rate. I even wrote about this in August. Now, I want to look at the issue another way. While it’s important to retain talented staff, we need to acknowledge that staff turnover is a fact of life. Even if the sector manages to do a more effective job retaining employees, the reality is that, eventually, staff will leave their position. You will leave your position.

That got me thinking about what you need to know when the time comes to hunt for a new job. I also thought about what professional recruiters need to know, from a candidate’s perspective, when representing a nonprofit client.

Because I’ve been self-employed since 1982, I didn’t feel quite qualified to write on the subject from a job candidate’s perspective. So, I invited Dan Hanley to share several tips based on his own job searches over the years as well as his encounters with executive recruiters. Dan is CEO and Lead Consultant with Altrui Consulting.

I thank Dan for kindly sharing six tips to keep in mind when looking for a new position as well as five things you should definitely avoid doing. In addition, he shares five suggestions for nonprofits who work with a professional recruiter.

Checkout Dan’s tips and, then, please share your own:

 

If the statistics I read are correct, more than half of nonprofit fundraisers are either looking for a new job or will be soon. Although I am troubled by this, as you might be, I am writing this post based on my experiences with looking for a job and the dozens of peers who are currently looking for their next nonprofit fundraising position.

Back in 2013, I was laid off. I had seen it coming and had a week to prepare before I was called into my boss’s office. My hunch was correct, and one morning I was told even though I was such an awesome guy, I was being laid off. I was handed a check and given the day to pack up and go.

I was grateful that I had already begun to prepare for this. I walked back to my office, called my husband, pulled up the state unemployment website and applied for unemployment. I then logged onto Facebook and told all of my friends and family that I had been laid off and had time for breakfast, lunch, or coffee with them, and that since I was no longer employed they would need to pay.

By the end of the day, I had 68 invitations to breakfast, lunch, or coffee.

Regardless of the reason you are searching for a job, the first thing to know is that you have a lot of support. Most likely, more than you know in the moment. You have your family, friends, former colleagues, peers who you know from work or through social media, etc. Remember this. You are not alone.

I have heard from people smarter than me that the best time to look for a job is when one has a job. Depending on your personal situation, this may or may not be true. The following six suggestions are for anyone looking for their next opportunity, no matter their personal situation:

  • Revisit your resume. Then ask a peer to do the same for you.
  • Sign up for any job email blasts from local nonprofits, national job search sites, and anyone else who sends out such lists.
  • Let everyone know you are looking for a job. Let them know what you envision as your next adventure. For social media platforms, like LinkedIn, you can even make it so recruiters know you are looking and are open to being approached by them.
  • If unemployed, get dressed for work every day and dive into your search. I found it invigorating to be in a dress shirt and slacks at 6:30 am while looking for any new job postings.
  • Share with others, even if it’s just one other, how you are honestly doing and feeling.
  • Be just as active on social media as you were while employed. If you were not active before, become active.

To go with the list of items I suggest you do when in a job search, here are five things I suggest you not do:

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August 28, 2019

Would You Have Accepted Money from Jeffrey Epstein?

A reporter for The Miami Herald interviewed me recently about whether charities should have rejected charitable contributions from Jeffrey Epstein, an admitted child sex trafficker who faced new accusations prior to his suicide earlier this month.

Now, I’ll ask you, would you have accepted a donation from Epstein?

Your knee-jerk response might be, “No!” Or, you might have a more emphatic and colorful response. It’s even possible that you would have accepted a charitable contribution from Epstein. You certainly wouldn’t be alone. Many nonprofit organizations have accepted substantial gifts from Epstein including Harvard University, the Ohio State University, the Palm Beach Police Scholarship Fund, Verse Video Inc. (a nonprofit that funds the PBS series Poetry in America), Ballet Florida, and other nonprofit organizations. Some nonprofits accepted Epstein’s money before his legal troubles, some after his initial plea deal on prostitution charges, and some around the time of the swirling accusations of child sex trafficking this year.

So, once again, would you have accepted a donation from Epstein?

As I told the reporter from the Herald, it’s not a simple question. It’s complex. It’s nuanced.

One factor is timing. Some might consider donations made before Epstein’s legal troubles to be completely problem-free. On the other hand, some charities might have more of an issue with an Epstein contribution made after his 2008 plea deal. However, after Epstein served his sentence, some charities would have been willing to accept an Epstein contribution once again.

Another timing issue involves whether a nonprofit had already spent Epstein’s donation prior to his legal difficulties. For example, Harvard says it spent Epstein’s donation by that time. In other words, there was nothing left to return.

Another factor to consider is the type of recipient charity. For example, a university might have been more willing to accept an Epstein donation than a child welfare charity would be.

Consideration of Epstein’s philanthropy gets even more complicated when we consider broader cultural issues. For example, in our society, we believe that ex-felons have paid their debt to society and, therefore, should be free to live life as full citizens including having the right to be philanthropic. Furthermore, we believe in a presumption of innocence. Epstein was not convicted of any new charges prior to his death.

More broadly, we must consider whether charities are supposed to investigate and pass judgment on donors before deciding whether to accept a gift. Many major donors, I dare say, have done something that they probably would prefer you didn’t know about, even if not rising to a criminal level. When does due diligence turn into snooping? Do you want your organization to have a reputation of hyper-scrutinizing prospective donors? Would major donors want to submit to that kind of treatment or would they simply take their money elsewhere?

When doing your due diligence, keep in mind that some of this nation’s greatest philanthropists were also troubling figures such as Andrew Carnegie, John Rockefeller, Henry Ford, and others. Charities are not in business to turn away contributions. They exist to take donations and use the funds to enhance communities and the world.

For example, I know of an order of nuns who accepts donations from known Mafia figures. They believe that they can take the funds and do more good with it than would be done if the money were left in the hands of the mobsters.

Having said that, the issues surrounding Epstein are certainly complex. I’ve only touched on some of the issues. The Miami Herald did a great job exploring some of the complications. You can read the article by clicking here.

To navigate a complex ethical dilemma, charities should consider all possible courses of action from multiple perspectives. In my article in the International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing, I wrote:

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August 19, 2019

High Fundraiser Turnover Rate Remains a Problem

Here we go again. There is yet another report about the high turnover rate among fundraising professionals.

According to a Harris Poll study conducted for The Chronicle of Philanthropy and the Association of Fundraising Professionals, more than half of the fundraising professionals in Canada and the USA that were surveyed say they plan to leave their job within the next two years. Among respondents, 30 percent say they plan to leave the fundraising profession altogether by 2021.

The ongoing high turnover rate among fundraising professionals is costly to nonprofit organizations. There is the cost of hiring and training new staff. There is also the enormous cost associated with the loss of continuity and the abandonment of relationships with prospects and donors.

Social media and the blogosphere have been reacting to the new report. For example, Roger Craver, at The Agitator, offers a well-done summary of the data and shares some additional resources exploring the problem. Unfortunately, much of the discussion I’ve seen overlooks what I view to be the real problem that allows high fundraising staff turnover to continue. Let me explain.

Soon after becoming a fundraiser, I began hearing talk about the problem of high staff turnover. That was back in 1980. Many causes were identified. Many solutions were offered. Sadly, nothing substantive has changed over the intervening four decades. Nothing! NOTHING! N-O-T-H-I-N-G!

I’m fine with surveys that continue to point to the turnover issue. I’m fine with many proposed solutions to the situation. However, do not expect me to believe anything will actually change.

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August 1, 2019

How Fundraisers Can Avoid 5 Big Mistakes Made by Capital One

Don’t worry. This post really is not about data security. It’s about much more. And I’ve written it for you, a fundraising professional.

But first, here’s some background:

Capital One, the tenth largest banking institution in the USA, announced it has experienced a major data breach involving the personal information of credit applicants and customers. In its official statement, the bank disclosed, “Based on our analysis to date, this event affected approximately 100 million individuals in the United States and approximately 6 million in Canada….This information included personal information Capital One routinely collects at the time it receives credit card applications, including names, addresses, zip codes/postal codes, phone numbers, email addresses, dates of birth, and self-reported income.” In addition, about 140,000 Social Security numbers were compromised. One million of Capital One’s Canadian customers had their Social Insurance Numbers compromised.

The Capital One story presents the nonprofit sector with an opportunity to learn from someone else’s problem. Every charity should learn from the five mistakes made by the bank:

1. Inadequate Data Protection

While Capital One works with Amazon Web Services, AWS says it was not compromised. The hacker exploited Capital One’s own system. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation has a former AWS employee, Paige A. Thompson, in custody. The investigation is likely continuing. What we know for certain at this point is that Capital One’s data protection systems were not up to the task.

As a fundraising professional, I don’t have any idea about what sophisticated data protection tools exist. I suspect you don’t either. However, you have an obligation to make sure that your organization seeks out the expertise to safeguard the organization’s data. Furthermore, you need to make sure your organization has a policy about who has access to data and under what circumstances. I know you won’t have the security systems of a bank, but you do have an obligation to have reasonably robust security protocols in place.

2. Lack of Timely Reporting

The personal data of Capital One credit applicants and customers was compromised from March 22-23, 2019. The company didn’t learn of the breach until July 19. The bank did not reveal this information to the public until July 29. We do not know if the FBI requested that the bank withhold news of the event pending an arrest. If so, the reporting delay is understandable. Nevertheless, the delay from the date of the incident to the date of disclosure was significant, even if it wasn’t the result of an actual mistake.

Fine wine improves with age. Problems do not. Whenever bad news is likely to become public or should be made public, it’s important to do so as soon as possible. This is true for both for-profit and nonprofit organizations. Getting the information out quickly and fully will help the organization preserve or, perhaps, even enhance its credibility.

3. Not Getting Out in Front of the Story

Once Capital One released the news, it did so haphazardly, despite having had 10 days to plan the disclosure roll-out. It issued a press release at 7:11 PM ET on July 29. By 7:41 PM ET, The Wall Street Journal website carried the news story. Other media outlets ran the story around the same the time. However, Capital One did not tweet the news until 8:43 PM ET. Therefore, when I first checked the Capital One Twitter feed, there was no mention of the story.

Even once the company addressed the general public, rather than just the news media, it did so with a bland tweet that simply read, “If you want to learn more about the Capital One cyber incident, please visit” along with a link to its press release and Frequently Asked Questions page.

The company did not issue an eye-catching alert. The company did not disclose the nature of the “incident.” The innocuous language and low-key look was also used at the top of the Capital One homepage. Assuming they actually spotted the mention, readers had to click through to the press release to find out what happened and, then, to the Frequently Asked Question page for additional information.

If something goes wrong at your organization, make sure you deliver your message on all the communication platforms your organization uses. Make it easy for folks to spot the information. Furthermore, make it easy for them to get more information by giving them a number to call or an email address, perhaps setting up both as hotlines for the occasion.

Capital One could have provided the public with the news without forcing folks to click through to the press release and then click over to the FAQ page. The bank could have also tweeted out tips for how its customers can protect themselves. Instead, the company is making people work a bit for the information. Don’t make the same mistake. Get people the information they need when they need it, and make it easy for them.

When something goes wrong involving your organization, whether or not it is to blame, you need to get out in front of the story in as coordinated a way as possible. At the point you alert the media, be prepared to take your message directly to the general public at the same time.

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