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A Crisis Management Guru Bungles a Crisis

Category: Business,Finance

Such deals have been around for decades, providing much-needed funds for charities and a halo effect for corporations. At Save the Children, though, relationships with these businesses were too cozy for some staff members. Members of the media team say they were sometimes asked to hold off on criticizing companies that were donors, or were considering becoming donors, out of fear of antagonizing them.

This happened a few times when the press office wanted to chastise energy companies, including British Gas and EDF, for raising rates, said Dominic Nutt, the charity’s one-time head of news.

“If the money got in the way of the mission,” he said in an interview, “the money came first.”

A spokesman for Save the Children U.K. said in an email that the charity has never muzzled itself on behalf of a sponsor.

“It is simply wrong and misleading to suggest our silence can be bought,” the spokesman wrote.

The goal of generating headlines and donation income appeared to have seeped into Save the Children’s charitable projects, too. A 2015 draft of an internal review of the charity’s efforts to combat the Ebola virus, a copy of which was seen by The Times, found the staff felt “pushed into a decision to take considerable risks in an area where the organization had no experience.”

Why did that happen?

“Many respondents said they felt this decision was driven by SCUK leadership’s ambition to attract more media coverage and funding,” the draft read. “They did not feel it was based on our ability to affectively deliver a humanitarian response to this crisis.”

Unwanted Texts

From the outside, Mr. Parker’s turnaround plans seemed to work. Save the Children U.K. more than doubled annual donations to roughly $515 million by 2015. It provided aid and care to far more children, too.

Inside the charity, few knew that Mr. Forsyth had been lavishing unwanted attention on female employees. The complaints by three women were lodged in 2012 and 2015 and largely centered on texts and, in one case, after-hours get-togethers he called “career chats.”


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