“Abrupt Resignation of CEO” not an Organization’s Dream Headline

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June 10, 2013; WPTV.com

When will nonprofit boards realize that some kinds of statements to the press are like waving a red cape in front of a bull? We’d place the messaging around this United Way CEO departure in that category.

The CEO of the United Way of Palm Beach County resigned on Monday before anyone could craft a message about what led to the “abrupt” move. In cases where a lack of information exists, speculation rushes in to fill the vacuum that is created until someone provides a story.

According to this article, “no one from the United Way or board members WPTV contacted knew what other opportunities Anderson was pursuing.” It further reported that Board Chairman Jay Shearouse only “recently” found out about the resignation, about which he would say very little, remarking, “I don’t want to go into too much detail.”

NPQ has discussed on a number of previous occasions the problems caused by the “disappearing exec” syndrome in the nonprofit sector. In this previous newswire, we suggested that this kind of messaging, or lack thereof, damages credibility and almost begs for investigative efforts from local press.

NPQ has written a great deal about communications in crisis but this article, Mission, Message and Damage Control by Kim Klein is hands down the best guide we know of – and one tip; it is best to read it before a crisis happens. Distribute it to your board. It is a great read!—Ruth McCambridge