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Nonprofit Risk Management Center A source for tools, advice and training to control risks ... so you can focus on your nonprofit's mission

June 18, 2008

Weather or Not To Have a Good Tomorrow

It is the time of year when Mother Nature’s wrath often takes center stage. A recent evening newscast reported the sighting of ten tornados on the ground in one day and four young victims. Experts are calling for 13 named storms in the coming season, three of which are likely to be intense hurricanes with at least one reaching landfall somewhere along the U.S. coastline. The historical average over the last century may be 52%, but this year the probability jumps to 69%. Will it happen? Where will it happen? Will it affect you? It’s all scientific speculation. What is not speculation is that if a severe weather disaster strikes your worksite, or the location where your vulnerable clients, staff or volunteers are engaging in programs, your nonprofit will be affected. While you are not in position to prevent severe weather, you can lessen the negative effects on your operations by thoughtful planning well in advance of the severe weather event.

It is better to be prepared to respond and recover, than to wander through the damaged landscape shaking our heads in grief and disbelief. Every nonprofit should plan for catastrophic events. Remember that you can mitigate the damage by preparing your staff leaders, undertaking a business continuity planning exercise, identifying and training a media spokesperson and a back-up, developing a succession plan for key leaders, and considering insurance and other strategies for financing insurable risks.

Regardless of where you live or work, whether in an area heralded as high risk for natural disasters, or where disasters are something that seem to happen elsewhere, make certain you give serious thought to the fact that a disaster can happen to your nonprofit. It may be a cliché, but, ‘forewarned is forearmed.’

Resources on Disaster Preparedness

Join us for the 2008 Risk Management and Finance Summit for Nonprofits Session #3, On Sunday, September 7th, 1-3 p.m.:

“When Bad Things Happen to Good Nonprofits: Effective Crisis Communication,”

Workshop description: No nonprofit — including those held in the highest regard by the public — is immune from a crisis that can send mission and reputation spiraling downward. While a key component or any risk management program is preventing avoidable downside risks, learning to cope with downside risks that have materialized is essential to long term mission fulfillment. Attend this workshop to learn more about the critical element of an effective crisis communications plan. Learn from cases studies or other nonprofits “what to do” and “what not to do.

Click here to see the program at a glance, register or download the brochure. Register before August 1 and save $100!

Alert: Nonprofits May Be Sued For Testimonials Used In Marketing Literature

A cancer survivor and his mother whose stories were featured in a nonprofit’s promotional literature have sued the nonprofit for invasion of privacy, defamation, and “false-endorsement,” among other claims. A federal district court has allowed the case to proceed against not only the nonprofit, but also the founder/trustee personally. (Hauf v. Life Extension Foundation, W.D. MI, So Div., No. 1:06-cv-627, 3/4/08) This case underscores the important risk management step of obtaining authorization and a release prior to using words attributed to or images of donors/supporters on web sites, annual reports or other marketing materials. The release should apply to a nonprofit’s web site as well as written materials. Need help crafting an appropriate release? The Center offers affordable consulting assistance by the hour or by the project. Contact us at: via email or call (202) 785-3891.

Calling All Nonprofit Insurance Specialists!

Would your insurance agent or broker benefit from attending our Summit? The program includes a special two-part program for agents and brokers who specialize in helping nonprofits. If you will send us contact information for your broker (name and email address will suffice), we will send them information on the Summit and enter you in a drawing to receive a complimentary copy of our new insurance book, Coverage, Claims and Consequences. We will select one winner from every ten new contacts we receiveat a drawing at the Summit in September. You need not be present to win. Please send an email to with your name, organization’s name and email address as well as the name and contact information of your organization’s insurance advisor.

© 2008 Nonprofit Risk Management Center

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