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Allyson Kapin 4 min read

Best Strategies for Responding to a Crisis

When a crisis strikes that directly impacts your organization, are you prepared to quickly craft a plan to respond and organize your base of supporters? If your answer is “not really” then you need to listen to the Care2 webinar we held yesterday with Madeline Stanionis and Will Valverde of Watershed who discussed what the best strategies for surviving and thriving when a crisis strikes.

Stanionis started off the webinar by saying that it’s the smaller organizations who are often able to win in a crisis. Why? Because smaller orgs tend to be more nimble due to less staff and decision-makers at the table. They usually can craft response plans and campaigns more quickly then large organizations who need a lot more time to get buy in by several stakeholders. And the most important part of responding to a crisis, is being agile enough to respond ASAP.

Additional strategies that were shared during the webinar were:

  1. Be truthful and authentic in the moment.
  2. Make decisions quickly. Time is of the essence.  Strive for same day response campaigns if at all possible.
  3. Don’t focus on building consensus for too long or too much. Be honest with each other.  This is related to point number 2. The more you focus on getting everyone’s consensus, the longer it will take to respond to the crisis. Pick a select group of staff to make the big decisions and delegate tasks to the rest of the team.
  4. Try to be the first organization to respond to a crisis that is related to your issue. The organization who responds first, tends to get the best results – advocacy, fundraising and earned media wise.
  5. Ask yourselves why does this issue matter to the world? How does this affect people? Why is donating to our organization the right way to respond to this crisis? Note, not all crisis responses should be fundraising based.
  6. Don’t be afraid of looking opportunistic. Your organization exists to support a mission.
  7. All hands on deck. Be prepared to work long hours and organize a “war room." Check your egos at the door. Staff should be prepared to jump in and do a variety of campaign tasks regardless of job title and job description.
  8. Let go and don’t worry too much about controlling the message. Let your constituents run with your message and trust them. They are your supporters and want to help your organization during this crisis.

Listen to and view the full webinar with audio here or just download the slides.


Allyson Kapin

Allyson has been named one of "Top Tech Titans" by the Washingtonian, one of the Most Influential Women In Tech by Fast Company, and one of the top 30 women entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter by Forbes for her leadership role in technology and social media. As Founding Partner of Rad Campaign, she leads the firm's client and online strategic services. For over a decade Allyson has helped non-profit organizations and political campaigns create dynamic and award-winning websites and online marketing and recruitment campaigns. She works side-by-side with her clients to meet their web needs and maximize their online effectiveness to create real world impact.