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

November 23, 2011

Policy Drafting Help is a Click Away: My Risk Management Policies

If you’re looking for help developing custom risk management policies for your nonprofit, look no further. The Center is pleased to offer My Risk Management Policies, an affordable, easy-to-use online tool that helps you create custom policies in a matter of minutes. Policy templates are organized into 22 categories. Creating a new social media policy, youth protection policy or code of conduct is a snap using My Risk Management Policies, and requires far less time than it takes to find a mildly suitable sample using an Internet search engine.

2012 Cyber Training Schedule Announced

The Nonprofit Risk Management Center will deliver sixteen informative webinars on a wide range of critical risk topics during 2012.

First Wednesdays webinars cover topics ranging from “Risk and Decision-Making,” to “Managing Social Media Risk” and “Crisis Management and Crisis Communication.” Each one-hour program costs $59. Save $249 by registering for the entire series! Participate “live” or view and listen to recorded programs at your convenience.

Third Thursdays webinars focus on human resource risk. Four, 90-minute programs will be offered during the period January-April 2012. Each webinar costs $89. Save $97 by registering for the four-part series! Participate “live” or view and listen to recorded programs at your convenience.

Hot Off the Press — 2nd Edition of Ready…or Not

After selling out the limited first printing of the 2nd edition of Ready…or Not: A Risk Management Guide for Nonprofit Executives, the Center is pleased to announce that copies of this new book are once again available in hard copy and eBook formats. This easy-to-read, practical guide addresses topics ranging from risk awareness to calibrating risk appetite. Authored by Melanie Herman, the Center’s executive director, Ready…or Not invites readers to embrace risk-taking in their organizations while paying close attention to stakeholder perceptions, risk communication and the relationship between risk and strategy setting. The 2nd edition features a brand-new chapter on “human factors” plus new content throughout. Learn more or order a copy today, here.

Be Thankful… By Getting Ready

By Melanie Lockwood Herman

Countless Americans will take time this week to pause and give “thanks”—for healthy families, for regular employment, and for a beautiful meal prepared with skill and love. During these reflective moments many of us will think about the nonprofit sector organizations that improve our lives, brighten our communities and give us renewed hope about living in a global society. One of the most valuable “gifts” we can give the nonprofits we serve is the gift of planning for an uncertain future. But there is no need to wait for a crystal ball to arrive during the upcoming holiday season. The truth is that none of us can predict, with any degree of certainty, exactly what the future holds for the nonprofits where we serve as staff members or volunteers. Yet rather than inspiring a sense of hopelessness—or worse—panic, recognizing the inherent uncertainty of the future should reinvigorate our commitment to plan… and think ahead.

With “thinking ahead” in mind, I’ve drafted a list of questions to inspire your creative thinking. My Thanksgiving wish is that these questions will help you “get ready” for 2012, and that the answers will enable you to anticipate the New Year with renewed confidence in your mission and capabilities.

The Budget

  • Does our draft Budget for FY 2012 reflect what we have learned about evolving donor, funder, client and member wants, needs and preferences?
  • Does the draft Budget accurately reflect the Board’s overall philosophy, such as the desire to rebuild depleted reserves, operate on a break-even basis, or spend a portion of unrestricted net assets to continue or expand critical services?

Our Risk Management Program

  • Does our existing collection of risk management policies suit our needs for 2012? What additional policies or changes in policy are warranted by our changing environment, challenges, or structure?
  • When was the last time we conducted a Risk Assessment to identify and evaluate our critical risks? Have we followed up and followed through on the action items from the Assessment?
  • Is our Risk Management Committee engaged and effective? What changes in focus or activity might be in order to increase the value of our risk management activity in 2012? How might we re-engage this important team of ambassadors to support and advance our risk management goals and objectives?


  • Is our current governing structure (e.g., size and authority of the board, relationship of the board to the staff, number and focus of board committees) well-suited for the challenges we will face in 2012? If not, are we actively exploring the opportunity to update our structure, or waiting for it to “break”?
  • Are the key governance policies of the organization organized in an easy-to-use policy manual accessible to all board members?
  • Are board meeting agendas structured to help the board focus on strategic issues or are we using an antiquated agenda with routine reports up front and controversial or strategic issues saved until the end of the meeting when energy levels are low?

Answering the questions above won’t ensure a surprise-free 2012. But exploring these questions is one way to help your nonprofit get ready for the inevitable changes and the occasional surprise you’re certain to face. Speaking of 2012, I hope you’ll join me for our series of provocative and practical risk-focused “First Wednesday” webinars, including the kick off program on “Risk and Decision Making” scheduled for January 4th at 2 pm Eastern. Visit the First Wednesdays Webinar Series webpage for details on the series, including dates and topics.

Melanie Lockwood Herman is Executive Director of the Nonprofit Risk Management Center. She welcomes your ideas about any risk management topic, 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.

Evolving Risk Management Programs: Our Specialty

Whether you’re trying to better understand your nonprofit’s appetite for risk-taking, sharpen your risk management skills, evolve your risk management efforts in response to changing circumstances, or educate your board about risk-taking and risk management, don’t hesitate to reach out the team at the Nonprofit Risk Management Center for assistance. We can support you in a number of ways. We’re available to help you:

We offer advice and consultation on topics ranging from developing or updating youth protection policies, to strengthening governance practices. Why make the evolutionary journey alone when you can partner with a team of nonprofit specialists who live and breathe nonprofit sector risks? Contact Melanie@nonprofitrisk.org or call (202) 785-3891 to discuss your needs and learn how we can help.



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