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Corporate Donations Can Pose PR Dilemma for Nonprofits

05/20/2010

Today, exactly one month after the BP Gulf oil disaster,  the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach will open the anticipated sea otter habitat as a result of a $1 million donation by BP.  Four years ago, when the contribution was made, it seemed like a good deal for an oil company trying to build environmental credibility and a tourist attraction competing for visitors.

It also is a timely example of how careful nonprofits must be in accepting large corporate donations, especially if terms of acceptance include naming rights.  For these donations to materialize, each organization has strict guidelines for sign-off and approval.

Our recent work with nonprofits has shown an increased development of business savvy. We advise all clients to develop (or review) crisis communication plans and to include a ‘reputation management’ clause in giving guidelines that cover crisis issues – such as an oil company having an oil rig explosion and spill, and developing a tangible plan that keeps the nonprofits reputation credible without negatively impacting the corporate giver (as it relates to the donation).

Related Los Angeles Times articles:

BP oil spill poses PR dilemma for nonprofits

BP acknowledges spill is bigger than estimate; oil pushes into delicate La. marshes

Gulf oil spill: EPA orders BP to use less toxic dispersant

Gulf Oil Spill – information round-up

And, if you happen to be in the LA area, The Aquarium of the Pacific IS a great family place to visit!

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