Reputation management for charities

01 May 2019

A charity’s reputation is fragile. It can take years to build and only seconds to destroy. How the charity handles times of crisis could make all the difference.

Young people holding hands in a circle

The Charity Commission complete an annual report on public trust in charities. In their 2018 release, they state that; in both 2016 and 2018, the public’s confidence in charities was knocked by controversies surrounding Age UK, Kids Company, and the Oxfam scandal1. When negative media coverage hits the headlines, they can spark debate which reflects on the ‘charity brand’ as a whole. This causes mistrust from the public and inquiry from regulating bodies.

Managing your charity’s reputation

A charity’s trustees have a responsibility to manage and mitigate the risk of crisis events arising – but if they do happen, it’s important they are handled swiftly, sensitively and responsibly. Robust analysis of reputational risks and consideration of how to manage those risks can give stakeholders and the public confidence in your charity.

Crisis planning strategies usually form part of your charity business continuity plan.

What are the key objectives in a charity business continuity plan?

A business continuity plan should aim to achieve a variety of outcomes for your charity. Some key goals may be to: Enable operations to continue as quickly and as smoothly as possible

  • Progress back to normal working conditions
  • Cause the least inconvenience to all parties – employees, suppliers and customers
  • Minimise the risk of accident, injury or ill health to all.

A crisis plan is an emergency plan that relates to the first 24 hours of activity. As part of a responsible risk management process, a crisis management plan sets out the agreed actions required to resolve the situation and restore normal operations.

The press can be a challenge in times of crisis and negative news stories can be potentially damaging for both charities and trustees. Preparing standard templates to issue as press statements and webpage updates in the event of a crisis can give your charity a head start. Try to create adaptable templates which cover for a range of possible crisis situations.

Learn more about business continuity - How to prepare a business continuity plan.

Support services and access to experts

Our charity insurance policies offer additional services to help organisations manage reputational damage following an insured event. We give charity customers access to professional services including PR and crisis helplines to help manage reputational risks.