Social Media Crisis Management For Non-Profits: What To Do When Things Go Wrong

Social media has become a powerful tool for non-profit organizations to engage with their audiences, raise awareness, and promote their causes. But as they say, with great power comes great responsibility.

This means non-profits must be prepared not only for the good things that come with social media but also for potential crises, and know how to handle them effectively. In this article, we explore a comprehensive guide about social media for non-profits and outline the steps to take when facing a crisis. Check these tips out:

Monitor Social Media Channels

Regularly monitoring your organization’s social media accounts will keep you informed about conversations, comments, mentions, and messages related to your non-profit. You can use monitoring tools to track keywords, hashtags, and mentions related to your organization across various platforms, to simplify this process and improve efficiency.

Just set aside a dedicated time each day to review your social media platforms and ensure that nothing goes unnoticed. Also, pay attention to direct messages. Sometimes, some people may prefer to communicate privately, and addressing their concerns promptly can prevent them from escalating the situation publicly.

Assess The Situation

In case of any issues, first gather all available information about the crisis before making any judgments or decisions. Review the social media posts, comments, messages, or any other relevant sources to understand the context and nature of the issue. If necessary, seek clarification and ensure that you have a comprehensive understanding of the situation.

Then, determine the severity of the crisis by considering its potential impact on your non-profit organization. You can even categorize the crisis as minor, moderate, or severe based on your assessment to help determine the level of urgency and the resources required for an effective response.

Act Swiftly And Transparently

Respond to the crisis as quickly as possible. As soon as you become aware of the issue, take immediate action and avoid any delay or hesitation, as this can escalate the situation further and erode trust with your audience.

Acknowledge the problem openly and publicly, and show your commitment to resolving it. Be honest and transparent, and avoid deleting or hiding negative comments unless they violate community guidelines. Make sure to provide accurate information and avoid making misleading or exaggerated claims. If you don’t have all the answers immediately, be transparent about it and commit to keeping the public informed as you gather more information.

Apologize If Necessary

Carefully assess the situation and determine the need for an apology. Consider whether your organization’s actions, decisions, or mistakes have caused harm, offense, or disappointment to your audience or stakeholders. In your apology, accept responsibility for the mistake or wrongdoing, and avoid shifting blame or making excuses. A heartfelt, sincere, and genuine apology is essential in rebuilding trust.

Assign A Dedicated Crisis Team

If need be, identify key team members, individuals within your organization who possess the necessary skills and expertise to handle a crisis effectively such as representatives from communications, public relations, legal, marketing, and senior leadership departments.

Designate a leader who will be responsible for coordinating the team’s efforts in leading the crisis management process, and clearly define the roles and responsibilities of each team member. Assign specific tasks and areas of focus based on their expertise and strengths. This ensures that everyone understands their responsibilities and can act swiftly and effectively during a crisis.

Craft A Consistent Message

Identify the key points that you want to communicate during the crisis. Focus on addressing the issue at hand, expressing empathy, and demonstrating your commitment to resolving the situation. Review your organization’s values and mission statement to ensure that your crisis message reflects them accurately.

While crafting your message, make sure it is clear and concise, and effectively communicate your key messages. Use simple language and avoid technical jargon for your message to be easily understood by your audience.

Engage With The Community 

Regularly monitor your social media channels to stay informed about the ongoing conversations and identify comments or inquiries related to the crisis. You can use social media listening tools to track mentions, hashtags, and keywords associated with the crisis. Adding QR codes to your posts can direct users to important information or resources quickly, enhancing engagement and information accessibility.

Time is of the essence when engaging with the community during a crisis, so aim to respond to the comments and inquiries as quickly as possible. This not only demonstrates that you are actively listening and addressing concerns, but also helps prevent misinformation from spreading and shows your commitment to open communication.

Utilize Multiple Communication Channels

Apart from social media, there are other communication channels you can use to provide updates on the situation. You can maintain an updated section on your organization’s website dedicated to crisis communications, where you provide accurate and timely information about the current status of the crisis, actions being taken, and any other relevant updates.

Using Google My Business for non-profits can boost your visibility and share critical updates in search results. It helps manage your presence on Google, including Search and Maps. Using post scheduling software also streamlines updates across platforms, ensuring consistent and timely communication.

You can also Leverage your email newsletter subscriber list to reach a wider audience. Send out regular updates via email to keep your supporters and stakeholders informed about the crisis and your organization’s response.

Press releases are another great way to communicate. Draft and distribute them to media outlets, both local and industry-specific. They will help disseminate accurate and official information about the crisis and your organization’s response to a broader audience. Ensure that your press releases are well-crafted and concise, and highlight the actions being taken to address the situation.

Provide Regular Updates

Keeping the public informed about the progress in resolving the crisis can demonstrate your commitment to resolving the issue and maintaining transparency. Determine an appropriate frequency for providing updates based on the nature and severity of the crisis. In some cases, more frequent updates may be necessary to keep the public informed.

Make sure that each update provides meaningful and relevant information about the progress in resolving the crisis. Share the steps your organization has taken, changes implemented, or any lessons learned along the way, and ensure that your updates align with the consistent message developed by your crisis team, to help maintain clarity, avoid confusion, and reinforce trust with your audience.

Learn From The Experience

After the crisis has been resolved, conduct a post-crisis assessment. Gather your crisis team and key stakeholders to review all available information, including social media conversations, internal reports, and feedback received to identify the key events, actions, and decisions that occurred during the crisis.

Determine and understand the underlying factors that led to the crisis, to ensure you develop effective preventive measures. Assess the effectiveness of your response strategies, and identify what worked well and what could be improved. Consider factors such as the speed of response, clarity of communication, level of transparency, and coordination among team members, and analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the crisis management plan to identify areas for enhancement.

Build A Robust Social Media Policy

Establish guidelines and protocols for social media usage within your organization. Start by clearly articulating the purpose of your organization’s social media presence to set the tone for your social media policy and ensure that everyone understands the objectives.

Define who is responsible for managing social media accounts and ensure that they have the necessary skills and knowledge. Make sure to also clearly define what constitutes acceptable behavior on social media platforms, and guide content creation.

Continuously Monitor And Adopt

Stay vigilant even after the crisis is resolved. Maintain regular monitoring of your social media channels to identify any emerging issues or potential crises. Set up alerts or use social media listening tools to stay informed about conversations related to your organization, key stakeholders, and relevant topics.

Staying abreast of the latest trends, developments, and best practices in social media and crisis management for non-profit organizations will help gain insights and learn from your past as well as others’ experiences.


Remember, every crisis is an opportunity for growth and improvement. By responding promptly, transparently, and empathetically, you can effectively navigate social media crises while preserving your non-profit organization’s reputation and credibility.

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Tags Crisis Management Robust Social Media Policy social media conversations
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Barsha Bhattacharya is a senior content writing executive. As a marketing enthusiast and professional for the past 4 years, writing is new to Barsha. And she is loving every bit of it. Her niches are marketing, lifestyle, wellness, travel and entertainment. Apart from writing, Barsha loves to travel, binge-watch, research conspiracy theories, Instagram and overthink.

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