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

May 16, 2012

Don’t Let The Dogs Bite You

By Melanie Lockwood Herman

Online training is an affordable and increasingly popular approach to training nonprofit volunteers. Providing 24-hours a day education across four U.S. time zones and around the globe is one way to accommodate volunteers who have busy lives and myriad other responsibilities. Yet even the best-conceived plans…can get waylaid.

This week I took a call from a volunteer leader who was taking an online safety course sponsored by a large nonprofit. She called back later in the day and let me know she had completed the course, and was now trying to help her husband do so. Although I didn’t ask, when I hung up the second time I was reminded of the expression: “On the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog.” I couldn’t help but wonder whether the caller had completed the course while logged in as her husband.

While it’s true that safeguards, policies and protective equipment can be skirted, misinterpreted, and undermined, a few simple planning guidelines may help you increase the odds of success. Consider the following tips to prevent your risk management strategies from being compromised:

  • Explain “why.” When unveiling any new training requirement, make certain you offer a clear statement of purpose. Tell volunteers and employees who must complete the training WHY their participation is key to protecting your mission and clients.
  • Request honest participation. Ask personnel taking online courses to verify that they are who they say they are. My daughter recently wrote an essay as part of a school application process, and before submitting her essay she was required to check a box verifying that “this is my original work.”
  • Provide accessible help. The caller with whom I spoke this week was experiencing “technical difficulty.” Her frustration came over the telephone line loud and clear. After our second conversation I wondered whether her frustration with the technology might have led to her decision to complete the required course on her husband’s behalf. Make “help” easy to find and remember that many people become easily frustrated with online applications.

There is no foolproof way to ensure that your strategies will come to life as you envisioned them. However, by taking time to explain “why,” by requesting honest participation and by making your help desk truly accessible, you may be able to avert the risk of an important online safety or risk management requirement going to the dogs.

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.

Look Who’s Talking About Our AFFILIATE Program…

The Maine Association of Nonprofits (MANP) was the first organization to enroll as an AFFILIATE of the Nonprofit Risk Management Center. In a recent conversation with MANP’s visionary CEO, Scott Schnapp, I asked if MANP has realized any tangible benefits since enrolling. Scott replied:

In only four months of our affiliate membership, MANP has already generated 60 member registrations for the Center’s excellent webinars. We have already recouped our annual affiliate fee in member loyalty, while creating additional value for our members, a true win-win. One member recently told us “Very good workshop today! I’m now interested in registering for the rest of them. They are very nicely packaged with a lot of useful information.”

If you haven’t signed on, what are you waiting for? The list of benefits is substantial, and the cost is an affordable $75 per month. Learn more or sign up online at: http://www.nonprofitrisk.org/affiliates/default.asp

What do rock stars and risk management professionals have in common?

They hang out at the Hard Rock Hotel in downtown Chicago!

Nonprofit CFOs, CEOs, Risk Managers and insurance industry leaders will gather for the 2012 Risk Management & Finance SUMMIT for Nonprofits during August 26-28 at the Hard Rock Hotel Chicago near the famous Magnificent Mile. Join us for informative risk management sessions, inspiring keynotes and a vendor expo that will allow you to keep your organization from getting stuck, “between a rock and a hard place.”

The Hard Rock Hotel Chicago stretches 40 stories tall and features upscale accommodations and beautiful views of the city skyline. Situated on Michigan Avenue, the hotel is steps away from Millennium Park, the Theatre District and the best shopping, dining and attractions in the Windy City. The contemporary ambience of the Hard Rock Hotel Chicago blends seamlessly within the walls of the landmark Carbide & Carbon Building, a historic Burnham masterpiece fashioned from green terra cotta and black polished granite. The hotel is located on the corner of Michigan Avenue and East Wacker Place/South Water Street.

The hotel is offering discounted conference rates as low as $159 per night for SUMMIT attendees who reserve rooms before August 4, 2012. To book your hotel reservation in our limited block, please use the following link: Nonprofit Risk Management Hotel Reservations.



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