Social support organizations - LGBTQ advocacy - Health and human services


At Privileged Communication, the working definition of “crisis” for nonprofits is a broad one, including natural disasters, client complaints, allegations of unprofessional or illegal conduct, problems with staff or board members, misuse of funds, and personal problems that can penetrate the professional arena.  

Many nonprofits overlook their risks for a crisis, often assuming that only celebrities, politicians, and larger corporations face this type of adversity.  As a result, they lack a crisis response plan or the in-house capabilities to quickly and effectively respond when a situation occurs that puts their organization’s reputation at risk.

We help nonprofit clients plan / prepare for and navigate crisis situations that may threaten their reputations, or interfere with their abilities to execute key responsibilities on a daily basis.

Though specific recommendations vary for each client, we promote honesty, transparency, and consistent, strategic communication to all internal and external stakeholders, provided there are no legal implications in doing so.  We have discovered this to be the key differentiator between organizations that can endure a crisis, and those that are irreparably damaged.  

Privileged Communication maximizes value for our crisis communication clients by working directly (and collaboratively) with them to craft a narrative message and outreach strategy that will help preserve relationships and reputations and chart a course for future growth and success.


Case Studies:
  • Developing a Crisis Narrative:  We worked with a Washington, DC-based charity specializing in  health and human services when their Executive Director was accused of mismanagement.  In this case, a client upset the level of service provided went to the media to share his story.  The reporter also contacted two former board members, resulting in the Executive Director becoming the focus of some sharp, public criticism.  We worked with the organization’s internal staff to develop a crisis response message and media response strategy.  

  • Responding to a Tragedy:  Privileged Communication provided support to a prominent social service organization in Philadelphia following the murder of one of their staff by a co-worker.  We focused on internal messaging and outreach strategies, each of which was tailored to specific stakeholder groups.  Our primary goal was to better equip staff with the communication tools needed to handle questions and media inquiries about this ordeal.  On a parallel track, we crafted an external communication strategy to leverage the organization’s increased visibility to promote notable accomplishments through targeted press outreach.  Privileged Communication provided ongoing support throughout the investigation and trial of the individual who confessed to committing this crime.

  • Financial Mismanagement:  Privileged Communication assisted staff and consultants involved with a celebrity-founded and endowed charity in the wake of serious allegations of financial mismanagement.  In this case, the individual placed in charge of the organization’s finances was embezzling funds intended for programs and services.  Two years passed before his systematic, recurring fraud was detected.  We came aboard to help manage press inquiries, and develop customized messages and outreach strategies for donors, volunteers, and staff alike - all the necessary steps to assure that an organization can emerge with its reputation intact.



The language nonprofits use to express their mission, values, accomplishments, and goals for the future is one of the most important components of building a successful organization.  We work with nonprofit clients to help them improve the content of their messages to maximize impact.  Whether preparing for media opportunities, writing website or social media content, or engaging with donors, we help our nonprofit clients ensure they are communicating clearly and effectively.


Case Studies:
  • Leadership Transition: We are assisting a prominent Washington, DC charity in the midst of an overhaul of their executive leadership. In close coordination with the Board of Director, Privileged Communication has prepared scripts, talking points and core messages to be shared with all internal and external audiences and stakeholders.   .

  • Speech Writing: Privileged Communication has supported several nonprofit and community-based organizations with preparing speeches and formal remarks to be delivered by key staff. One of the most notable of these engagements involved writing a keynote speech delivered by Allison Vulgamore, President of the Philadelphia Orchestra, during the opening of the 2014 United Nations General Assembly.   



“In May of 2013, Brian gave a presentation to WWH’s Communications Executive Leadership Team, a quarterly meeting of our chief officers and department heads to discuss Communications issues. Brian’s presentation was thorough and compelling as to the need for all organizations to prepare for crises. His experience and expertise was pivotal in convincing WWH leadership that we needed to develop a crisis communications plan.”
– Chip Lewis, former Deputy Director of Communications, Whitman-Walker Health, Washington, DC (


“When we were in the planning stages of the Non-Profit Professionals Summit, Brian was very knowledgeable of what nonprofits need to think about for crisis management planning. That, in addition to his familiarity with group dynamics and nonprofit training, led to a successful session at the Non Profit Professionals Summit.”
– Ashley Tobin, Work Better Consulting and the Non Profit Professionals Summit, Philadelphia



As a fellow co-founder of the non-profit, GO! Athletes, I have had the opportunity to work extensively with Brian Goldthorpe as we built an organization from the ground up. His expertise and strategic planning, non-profits, media/PR, community outreach, partnerships, and grant writing helped us grow into a sustainable non-profit that continues to support LGBT athletes across the nation. In addition to his leadership and consulting role with GO! Athletes, during my time as the Deputy Chief of Staff for State Representative Brian Sims, Brian Goldthorpe provided our district office staff with a series of trainings, including one that focused on crisis communications related to a government office. His insight and expertise has been essential to my professional career, and personally, as a trusted advisor." - Anna Aagenes, Vice President of Program Development and Community Relations, You Can Play Project (


“76% of nonprofit communicators say their messages are irrelevant to the people that they want to give, volunteer, or take another needed action. Their target audiences remain unmoved and their goals unmet.”
— Nancy G. Schwartz