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

March 28, 2012

Remember to Share

By Melanie Lockwood Herman

From time to time one overhears the parents of boisterous or bickering children pleading with their offspring to “share.” The admonition to “share with your siblings” is advice that many of us heard repeatedly from our wise parents, particularly when a beloved toy or a favorite treat was up for grabs.

Although nonprofit leaders are generous in sharing their time and talents to improve the quality of life in our communities, some remain a bit stingy when it comes to sharing the highly prized “treat” in a modern workplace: information.

A conversation with a participant at a workshop last week reminded me about the tension between giving employees what they “want to know” versus what the leader perceives they “need to know.” In an article titled “Love and Politics” featured in the October 27, 2011 edition of this eNews we encouraged readers to be generous when communicating with staff:

Be generous; err on the side of communicating openly. Many nonprofit leaders adopt a “need to know” approach when it comes to sharing information with staff, not wanting to “burden” staff with information that may not be “needed” to tackle today’s “to do” list. Yet employees who are in the dark about the nonprofit’s plans and challenges are far more likely to find frustration and doubt, rather than comfort, in the dark.

In their article “Creating Sustainable Performance” in the January-February 2012 edition of the Harvard Business Review, Gretchen Spreitzer and Christine Porath write about the link between sharing information and inspired performance in the workplace. Spreitzer and Porath explain that “Doing your job in a vacuum is tedious and uninspiring; there’s no reason to look for innovative solutions if you can’t see the larger impact.”

As I read about the findings of research on employee engagement, a handful of conversations with disillusioned nonprofit employees came to mind. Over the years I’ve met several professionals who brought extraordinary enthusiasm to their new jobs in the nonprofit sector, but later became frustrated when their positions failed to offer the “connection to mission” they had assumed or been told would occur.

It seems like every week a new study is released warning that many employers will soon face a stampede for the exit. Why? As economic conditions continue to improve across the country, a growing number of business and nonprofit employers will begin hiring or hasten the pace of ongoing efforts to staff up. Unhappy staff will have the opportunity to move on to workplaces that value their work, keep them “in the loop,” and help them see how their efforts advance the employer’s nonprofit mission or business goals. Will your nonprofit be among those facing the stampede… or on the list of fortunate employers able to select from an applicant pool of capable, high-performing professionals eager to help you advance your mission? Don’t wait until you discover your most capable staff cleaning out their desks before taking a closer look at what the members of your team truly value and how you value your team.

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 the newest AFFILIATE member of the Nonprofit Risk Management Center: the Speech and Language Development Center (SLDC). Founded in 1955, the Speech and Language Development Center is a southern California school and therapy center for students who have special needs in the areas of language, learning and behavior. SLDC provides programs and services for 340 students, ages 6 months through 21 years, and serves many students who have multiple handicapping conditions. 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.



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