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

February 22, 2012

Try a Little… Kindness

By Melanie Lockwood Herman

Last week I wrote about the connection between managing risk and a happy workforce. Yesterday I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Christine Carter speak about “Raising Happiness at Camp” at the opening keynote session at the American Camp Association annual conference in Atlanta. Dr. Carter is a sociologist at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center and is the author of the book, Raising Happiness.

During her keynote address Dr. Carter noted the increasing “emphasis on achievement” for 21st Century kids, explaining that “achievement” in the eyes of many parents means excellent grades and repeated “wins” on the athletic field. She contrasted the drive for achievement with a growing recognition of the importance of “fostering a compassionate imagination” in young people. Dr. Carter explained to her audience that “what happens when you pressure children to achieve is that you cut them off from their sources of inspiration… and hinder their ability to be happy.”

ACA’s opening keynote speaker focused on three keys to raising happy children. The third key in Dr. Carter’s prescription was “creating a culture of kindness.” She explained that kindness is an “instant happiness booster,” adding that “we fail to recognize how closely tied our happiness is to how kind we are,” and that “when we are kind our health tends to increase dramatically and we tend to live longer.” She cited a recent study which found that active volunteers were 44% less likely to die during a 12 year period than those who didn’t volunteer, and that volunteering has a stronger positive effect on physical health than exercising four times per week or quitting smoking. Kindness… according to new research, can undo the negative effects of stress.

Perhaps we should add “be kind” to the risk management process for common workplace and constituent relation risks. With employee grievances and client discontent consuming valuable time that might otherwise be spent on mission advancement, resolving to be kind to the people we serve and serve with is sound risk management. According to researchers Jeannie Trudel (Indiana Wesleyan University) and Thomas G. Reio Jr. (Florida International University), incivility—often materializing in the form of rude or discourteous behavior to co-workers or customers—has a serious impact on the bottom line*. Since the “bottom line” in a nonprofit organization is serving people and communities, the toll that incivility takes in the nonprofit sector is arguably more significant than lost profits. In addition to teaching our children to be kind to one another, perhaps we should coach our staff and volunteers to be kind to one another and those we serve, each and every day, and agree to hold one another accountable for kind behavior. “Try a Little Kindness…” is more than a new twist on an old song, it is a simple but important antidote to costly incivility that creates stress in the workplace and dampens enthusiasm for a community-serving mission.

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.

*An interview with Jeannie Trudel titled “Incivility Rising,” is featured in the February 2012 edition of HR Magazine, the monthly publication of the Society for Human Resource Management.


We’re pleased to welcome the newest AFFILIATE member of the Nonprofit Risk Management Center: TransitionGuides. TransitionGuides is a consulting firm that provides succession planning, executive search, transition management and organizational sustainability services. Welcome aboard!

Why Join?

As a Center AFFILIATE your nonprofit’s members, chapters, councils and field or branch offices will enjoy access to an array of free and discounted risk resources, including complimentary viewing of this year’s First Wednesday Webinar series and unlimited technical assistance by telephone and email. Nonprofit AFFILIATES include national nonprofit federations, regional agencies, and local organizations. The nonprofit customers of for-profit AFFILIATES (brokers, background checking companies, specialty carriers, law firms, CPA firms, and management consulting firms) enjoy the same access to money-saving risk resources.

The cost to nonprofit AFFILIATES is $75 per month, and the cost to for-profit AFFILIATES is $100 per month. If only ONE of your staff, chapters, or members calls us each month or watches a single webinar, you’ll save money AND benefit in a tangible way from your membership in the only national nonprofit dedicated to helping nonprofit sector leaders become risk aware and resilient in our changing and uncertain world.

We hope you’ll visit the AFFILIATES Program webpage, peruse the list of benefits, and click to enroll. And don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have questions about the program or requests for new offerings or services. We look forward to serving you in the months and years ahead!

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 that it takes to find a mildly suitable sample using an Internet search engine.

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.

Check Out our 2012 Cyber Training Schedule

The Center’s monthly webinars continue next month with our March programs. It’s not too late to take advantage of the recorded or live programs. Keep in mind that if you enroll as a Center AFFILIATE, you’ll enjoy complimentary access to the recordings of all 12 First Wednesdays webinars—a $459 savings.

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.



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