Could The Media Presence of Your Nonprofit Be a Lawsuit Risk?

Nonprofits rely on electronic communications and social media to spread the good word. It’s cheap and effective exposure – until you go viral for the wrong reasons. From a fundraising snafu to a volunteer mistake, negative media engagement can slam the doors on your image (and your fundraising) indefinitely.

The bottom line is that going viral isn’t always a good thing.

Your nonprofit should consider media liability, even though you’re not in the media business

Once you hit “send,” there’s no going back. You can delete the post, but if anyone saves it before you delete it, it’s out there forever (and could be on thousands of screens in a matter of hours). If a lawsuit ensues, you’ll need a policy that helps with the cost of your legal defense.

Will you be covered if one of your volunteers, employees or board members kicks off a media situation, either accidentally or vindictively?

Media liability risk exposure for nonprofits can be costly

Traditionally, media liability coverage was primarily for businesses like advertisers, broadcasters, or publishers with significant exposure and mammoth platforms, like television. But social media has put everyone, including your nonprofit, in the publishing business.

Here are a few ways you could potentially land in hot water:

  • An email campaign is unintentionally offensive
  • Photos posted online give rise to claims of emotional distress, invasion of privacy or copyright infringement
  • Social media posts provide inaccurate or misleading advice or referrals (personal injury or false advertisement)
  • Volunteer posts a negative comment about a client interaction on their social media account (defamation)
  • Virtual fundraiser gets hacked and displays pornographic images (emotional distress)
  • Staff event photos inadvertently include another company’s logo, and the company sues you for trademark infringement
  • One of your blog posts is not entirely original (plagiarism)

Even autocorrect can create potential legal landmines.

Media liability protects you when general liability can’t

Media liability is a form of errors and omissions (E&O) insurance designed to handle liabilities like defamation, misrepresentation, infringement, or emotional distress. The exclusions and options are less restrictive than general liability policies.

You may be wondering – quite reasonably – why you can’t just rely on your nonprofit’s existing liability insurance. Here’s the thing: Commercial general liability (CGL) covers some issues related to personal and advertising injury, but your limits might not be high enough, and there may be exclusions that won’t cover certain situations.

Even if you’re innocent, you still need to respond to a lawsuit and mount a defense. It can be an expensive endeavor that your organization’s budget simply can’t absorb.

Could media liability coverage be right for your nonprofit?

Give us a call for a coverage review! We always want to err on the side of caution when it comes to protecting your organization.

Sure, we might talk it out and decide that media liability coverage isn’t right for you (which is totally fine), but let’s have the conversation so you can put your mind at ease. We’re here to help cover the gaps.