A SOURCE for Tools, Advice, and Training to control risks... so you can Focus on your Nonprofit's mission.

July 27, 2011

Register by August 5th and Save

The early-bird deadline for the Center’s annual conference is rapidly approaching. Visit the program page to learn more about the line-up of conference workshops for the Risk Management and Finance Summit for Nonprofits. Or download an up-to-date PDF with conference details. When you register online by August 5th you’ll save $100.

What’s in Your Fanny Pack?

By Melanie Lockwood Herman

I’ve noticed that the fanny pack has made a comeback this Summer. For those who are loathe to carry a handbag or “man bag,” the fanny pack offers an alternative catch all big enough to hold a water bottle, sunscreen, cell phone and other heat wave necessities.

The light-weight, just-enough space, hands-free appeal of the fanny pack offers an interesting schematic inspiration for risk management policies in a nonprofit: portable, accessible, easy to reach, and essential. Throughout the year the Center reviews policy manuals, employee and volunteer handbooks and risk management programs for a wide range of nonprofits. These policy reviews are typically conducted as part of a risk assessment. Many of the manuals and handbooks we review are weighed down with jargon or impaired by inconsistent statements. Some contain paragraphs (or pages!) of disclaimer language in BOLD AND ALL CAPS WHICH MAKES THESE SECTIONS HARD TO READ. I find it ironic that so many handbooks draw attention to “what this isn’t” at the expense of essential “do’s” and “musts.” I know what some readers are thinking: “my lawyer made me do it.”

If an “evacuation” of your files was necessary and you only had a minute to fill a fanny pack with risk management essentials, what would you bring? Here’s a list of what I’d cram into my neon yellow fanny pack:

  • A short reminder that we welcome complaints and feedback. Not a complicated form requiring the complaining party to jump through fiery hoops or navigate an unfriendly voice mail system, but a gentle statement telling stakeholders that your opinions matter and both compliments and complaints are welcome.
  • A list of our interdisciplinary risk management committee. My “dream team” has representatives from several levels in the organization, and includes staff as well as volunteers and an outsider or two.
  • An overview of our Enterprise Risk Management program, including an illustration of our “bird’s eye view” of risk, a short narrative on our evolving risk appetite and a list of strategies for managing risk at the intersections of organizational life.
  • An index card with my “go to” Web resources on managing risk and reward.

Speaking of “essentials,” we’re offering a brand-new “Risk Management Essentials” track at this year’s Risk Management and Finance Summit for Nonprofits, September 18-20 in Seattle. I hope you’ll consider joining our expert faculty for an informative and enlightening look at risk in the nonprofit world. The “Essentials” track will feature the following sessions:

  • Nonprofit Risk Management 101
  • Common Ground – Roundtable for Leaders of Religious Nonprofits
  • We’re All Human: Human Behavior and Risk Management
  • Top 10 Legal Risks Facing Nonprofits
  • Should I or Shouldn’t I: Resolving Ethical Dilemmas in Nonprofit Life
  • Got Risk? Ask the Legal All Stars
  • Conducting an Audit of Volunteer Risks
  • Best Practices in Youth Protection
  • School of Hard Knocks: Learning from Loss
  • Joined at the Hip or Split at the Seam: Managing Merger and Separation Risks

Whether you’re trying to understand your agency’s exposure to legal claims, appreciate the risks arising from volunteer service, or simply looking for inspiration for your risk management efforts, the Summit will fill your fanny pack and human hard drive with great content, new ideas, fresh perspectives on the basics, and more. Register early to save $100 on the registration fee. The early-bird deadline expires in less than two weeks, on August 5th.

Melanie Lockwood Herman is Executive Director of the Nonprofit Risk Management Center. She welcomes your questions about managing risk in the nonprofit world, feedback on this article and questions about the Center’s resources at Melanie@nonprofitrisk.org or (202) 785-3891. The Center provides risk management tools and resources at www.nonprofitrisk.org and offers consulting assistance to organizations unwilling to leave their missions to chance. Read about how our training and consulting services make a difference on our testimonials page.



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