by Mary Ochs, RoadMap consultant
Attacks are inevitable when your organization is visible and effective in making significant change. But there are many preventative steps that organizations can take to minimize the risk of an attack. Here are just a few:
Tip 1: Research yourself.
Do some opposition research on yourself. Try to think like your opponent. What might you do to side track or discredit your organization? RoadMap’s check list “Getting & Keeping Your House in Order” is a great tool to help you identify internal vulnerabilities.
Tip 2: Do an annual check up.
If you have already used RoadMap’s check list and addressed your vulnerabilities, make sure your organization stays on top of it by scheduling an annual housekeeping tune-up. Schedule the tune up to coincide with a key event, such as your fiscal year closing. Or create an annual date like the first Friday in January or a “spring cleaning day” on the third Monday in March. Tune ups are also a great opportunity to bring new staff and board up to speed on internal protocols.
Tip 3: Remind, train and document.
As we approach another election season it is important to train and remind all staff and volunteers to be super mindful about what activities and communications are allowed or prohibited based on your tax status. Document that you have provided training by keeping a sign in list. Save all your written communications and materials regarding this matter. A common line of attack is to accuse 501c3 social change organizations of engaging in partisan or inappropriate activities. RoadMap’s Weathering the Storms toolkit provides a sample reminder statement regarding the ban on partisan political activities that 501c3 organizations can use as part of their training. Read it, understand it, sign it and keep it on file. Being able to show you made good faith efforts will go a long way when being attacked.
Tip 4: Be Prepared.
Develop a crisis management plan. Here is link to a sample crisis management plan. They are important to have and do not take much time to create. But they save a lot of time and problems when any kind of crisis or emergency happens.