Crisis management training at the University of Zurich

Donations scandal at an NGO – the public are outraged!

Imaging you are the CEO of your country’s most important aid organisation and you are confronted overnight with allegations that your organisation has embezzled donation money on a large scale! The next morning, you are sitting down with the other members of the crisis team. You have 90 minutes to make a correct assessment of the crisis, take the right measures and inform the public of them. Crisis management may not be an everyday activity, but one can certainly prepare for it. That is what the crisis management training at the University of Zurich is for.

How does an organisation or a company react to rumours or concrete allegations from the press? A crisis team must gather at very short notice in order to consult on how to deal with the crisis, both internally and externally. Meanwhile, the external actors represent the “public ear”, demanding to know how much is in these rumours. Representatives of the media are reporting regularly on the developments.

This short exercise serves as an interactive point of entry into a unit on crisis management and crisis communication. There are different variations of the simulation game: One version deals with the embezzlement of donated funds in the area of humanitarian aid, another is set among allegations of corruption in a communal building authority. A more complex variant is the case of a multinational drinks manufacturer faced with allegations of selling a contaminated product. By now, we have used these short simulation games in numerous training seminars; however, Zurich remains the only place where the crisis is discussed in Swiss German (the Swiss dialect is largely unintelligible to most Germans)…


Facts + Figures

Target group

Employees of NGOs in Switzerland

  • What to look out for in crisis management?
  • What are common mistakes?
  • What is the best way to deal with the public?

University of Zurich


4 h

Number of participants





German, Swiss German



  • Where to find custom-made simulation games on a media crisis? planpolitik found creative solutions for NGOs and state authorities finding themselves in the crossfire of the media. The participants from these organisations and administrative units were very enthusiastic! The co-operations with planpolitik were highlights in the organisation of the training courses.

    Dr. Erik Jentges, University of Zürich IPMZ – Institute for Mass Communication and Media Research/Training