An Emphasis on Communications Skills Can Help Charities Survive a Public-Image Crisis
By Kimberlee Roth
The United Way in East Lansing, Mich., broke some bad news in 2003, news that quickly had the rumor mill churning some 45 miles away — in Washtenaw County, where one of the charity's former staff members owned a horse farm.
The East Lansing group reported that the employee, a former vice president of finance for the organization, appeared to have taken nearly $2-million from the charity — a crime to which the worker eventually pleaded guilty.
'On television, you'd hear, 'United Way scandal here in Washtenaw County,'' recalls Charlotte Luttrell, senior director of marketing at the Washtenaw United Way, in Ann Arbor, Mich. 'Or you'd hear 'United Way scandal hits home' — things like that. It was confusing to people, even though the scandal had nothing to do with the Washtenaw United Way. It was a difficult time for us.'"