Whether or not bourbon is your drink of choice or not, non profits can learn a thing or two from Maker’s Mark about authentic audience engagement. As reported by the smart folks at Church of the Customer, in the face of a global surge in demand for bourbon, Maker’s Mark announced they would have to cut their bourbon to 42% alcohol by volume from 45% so that more of the product could be bottled to meet demand. They claimed that it wouldn’t affect the flavor.

But after a week of uproar from their fan base — mostly via social media channels — they changed course and announced they would not cut the alcohol percentage.

With so many companies and non profits failing big time in responding quickly and transparently online and losing audience trust and loyalty because of it, here are three things to learn from Maker’s Mark:

(1) When announcing the decision to cut the whiskey, Bill Samuels Jr., the son of the founder, took full responsibility and said he must have been “asleep at the wheel” when failing to forecast the surge.

(2) After the announced the cut, they listened and engaged with their fans. They didn’t put their heads in the sand. They discussed the decision openly.

(3) After the uproar, they changed course. They admitted they had made the wrong decision and that in doing so they had let their fans down.

Refreshing, no? We all make mistakes. How we handle them is what shows our true mettle.