Journalist Michael Kinsley famously described a gaffe as “when a politician tells the truth – some obvious truth he isn’t supposed to say.”
The same thing happens in the non-profit world.
Exhibit A is this video from Mission Health, a large healthcare system in Asheville, North Carolina, where the CEO attempts to make the case for philanthropy.
(scroll to the bottom to see the video)
This is what you hear from the CEO:
- “Financial analysts consider us too small to survive in the long run.”
- “Our margin is very thin.”
- “Philanthropy has a 50 to 1 leveraging ratio compared to additional net revenue.”
- “We lose money on more than 70% of the patients we serve.”
- “It costs $4 million per day just to keep the doors open.”
- “For us to raise $1 million in income, we would have to bill probably north of $100 million, and actually collect $50 million, just to net out that same $1 million.”
This is what you don’t hear: a single example of a patient helped by philanthropy.
The truth that he was inadvertently sharing is this: “Our business model is failing, and we don’t have a clue how to fix it. The healthcare system is broken and we don’t have the courage to challenge it. Could you send us a few dollars so that we can postpone our inevitable collapse?”
My mentor in communications, Marcia Silverman, famously used to say to clients “Sometimes you have a PR problem, and sometimes, you just have a problem.”
Mission Health – you have a problem!
And while we’re at it, Exhibit B, also from Mission Health. Another video staring the CEO. And only the CEO. (Someone enjoys seeing himself on video!)
The first ¾ of the video is a recitation of bricks and mortar projects, followed by his assertion that their new initiative is about “far more than just bricks and mortar.”
Again, we never see, much less meet a patient or caregiver. We do see construction sites and architects renderings of new facilities, which apparently is the sum of their “vision for the future.” Another gaffe.
To be clear – I’m not suggesting Mission Health needs to fix its communications.
Mission Health needs to fix itself.
Anyone have any other cringe-worthy videos they want to share, where the truth is accidentally exposed?
Please send them to me and I’ll post.