One of the newest books to rock the nonprofit sector is Wounded Charity: Lessons from the Wounded Warrior Project Crisis.” Released earlier this month, Wounded Charity is written by Doug White, an author, teacher, and an advisor to nonprofit organizations and philanthropists who has more than 30 years of experience in the field. This book delves into the crisis that enveloped the country’s largest veteran organization in 2016, and systematically uncovers the illusions, issues, missteps, and false information that created and perpetuated this event, as well as the aftermath that is still unfolding.
This book is a modern fable; a story filled with valuable lessons in both practical and moral senses. From this book, fellow nonprofits and mission-driven ventures can glean valuable information about public relations and media, crisis management, and the intricacies of Board-Executive relationships. Many of these lessons are presented as exactly what not to do, and it harkens back to the quote from George Santayana: “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.”
Don’t diminish the importance of this book by heralding it as an “interesting story.” Take the time to learn the lessons and apply it to your own reality. Share it with your colleagues, your executives, and your Board of Directors. As you read, consider if your own organization were to come under fire (and if you are thinking to yourself, “This could never happen to us!,” we urge you to think again). Take heed and make a plan. It is our responsibility to protect our organization, our staff, and our stakeholders. And this book shines a light on the best and worst ways to deal with a public crisis.
Not only is the timeline and complexities of this situation wildly interesting, it is a great lesson for us. White not only considers the events that unfolded, he delves into the structures and perceptions in our society today that created the conditions that allowed this incident to occur.
I highly recommend this book for all nonprofit leaders and board members, and especially those that handle media and public relations. It is available now in paperback, and you can order it here.