How to Communicate When Something is ‘Going Down’


Members need information, but not too much information when something is ‘going down’.

Ripped from Marla’s Volunteer Relations Headlines, once again, an issue that I just managed for a client. This is for a youth leadership organization where we have adult and child members.

Situation: Volunteer reports concern about financial handling on the part of another Volunteer.

Status: My client organization decided to suspend all activities of this group during the financial inquiry. This decision was made because the group is super small and there was no one to take ownership of leadership during this time.

My Client's Dilemma: How to inform other adults about the status. Special notation; the person(s) under investigation would also receive this message.

3 Solutions From Marla:

When writing to a group to deliver ‘bad news’, be sure to:

  1. Stick to the facts – no superfluous information or information that can be misunderstood.

  2. WIIFT – What’s In It For Them – Deliver the information that they want to know that effects their membership and ability to participate, even during this time.

  3. Follow-up – Be sure they know how to contact you with information that may be helpful to your inquiry as well as ensuring that you circle back to provide them with outcomes. They don’t need the details of the outcome, just information that would apply to their own membership and participation, that’s it.

OK, so below is a stripped down version of the letter that I provided to my client. Be sure you fill in details as appropriate to your organization.