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

March 14, 2012

Two Ears, One Mouth

By Melanie Lockwood Herman

Last week’s eNews on “Soft Power and Quiet Persistence” drew a small army of introverts out of the shadows of our large and growing list of subscribers. Thanks so much for your feedback and examples of “soft power” in the leadership ranks of the nonprofit sector.

Although it was a bit harder than usual to find time to read for work or pleasure this week, I was able to finish Chapter 10, “The Communication Gap,” in Susan Cain’s book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. The topic of “communication” frequently arises in our risk management consulting practice. The failure to effectively connect risk management to mission advancement with an intentional communications strategy can lead to the demise of an otherwise promising risk management plan. But effective risk communication isn’t limited to a clearly worded statement of policy or gently-paced safety briefing with attractive visual aids. Engaging diverse points of view in risk identification and treatment requires both sales and coaching skills.

In Chapter 10 Cain reminds her readers of the expression “we have two ears and one mouth and we should use them proportionately.” She shares the advice of sales guru Jon Berghoff who admonishes his clients to ditch their preconceived notions of selling in favor of learning to “really listen well” to prospective customers. Berghoff attributes his success as an introvert salesman extraordinaire to being a very good listener.

Listening intently is fundamental to cultivating a risk aware culture in your nonprofit. And research cited by Cain suggests that introvert-extrovert pairings can lead to more relaxed, open conversations. If talking about risk makes some members of your team uneasy, try experimenting with two-person conversation teams, rather than a typical large group brainstorming activity.

And consider adapting a page from Jon Berghoff’s playbook for sales success: focus on understanding risk in your nonprofit’s context BEFORE you rush to “solve,” mitigate or work around risk.

The more I learn about my introverted colleagues, the more I become convinced that we need introverts—with their expertise in observing social dynamics—seated around the risk management committee table. The outspoken, confident extroverts on the team will help ensure that a wide range of issues are considered, while the quieter introverts will be invaluable in helping the team see the nuanced nature of risk in your world.

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.


We’re pleased to welcome three new AFFILIATE members of the Nonprofit Risk Management Center. Welcome aboard!

State Bank Financial - In business since 1879, State Bank Financial is located in La Crosse, Wisconsin and serves the community with a commitment to make an impact through giving. The company provides direct support for affordable housing opportunities, education, youth programs, the arts, community development and support, and agricultural development. Organizations that provide assistance to low to moderate income individuals and families are a priority.

ONE - The Organization for Nonprofit Executives - In 1998, the Council of United Way Agency Executives (CUWAE) wanted to share its support system to assist a larger community of nonprofit Executive Directors within the State of Arizona. Joined by members of the Association for Nonprofit Executive Directors of Arizona (ANEDA), the Organization for Nonprofit Executives was born.

NeighborWorks America - Headquartered in Washington, DC, NeighborWorks America works to create opportunities for lower-income people to live in affordable homes in safe, sustainable neighborhoods that are healthy places for families to grow. Together with its national and local partners, NeighborWorks provides grants, programmatic support, training and technical assistance to its national network.

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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