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

June 7, 2012

2012 SUMMIT Details Announced

The preliminary program for the 2012 Risk Management and Finance Summit for Nonprofits is now available at: http://www.nonprofitrisk.org/summit/program_2012.asp.

Everything You Need to Know About Risk… You Learned in Kindergarten

By Melanie Lockwood Herman

As I prepare for my daughter’s eighth grade graduation this week, I feel nostalgic for the days when she began her academic career as an energetic tow-headed little Kindergartener. I remember her coming home wide-eyed and excited to tell me all of the things she was learning at school. There were as many ‘life lessons’ learned as there were academic lessons. If you think about it, many of the lessons we learn in our first year of school directly relate to risk. Here are a few of my favorites…

  • Risk is everywhere. Even a gently sloping playground slide can be risky. A damp surface could make the ride faster than anticipated and a shove from a mischievous classmate could send you airborne. Sizing up risk is a skill we begin to develop very early in life. But children quickly realize that risk is everywhere and they need lots of practice to get their risk assessment muscle in shape. When she was very young my daughter learned that going down the slide backwards was not worth the “risk.”
  • Protect your sensitive parts. Many children begin riding bikes and playing organized sports at age five and they quickly learn that helmets, shin guards and facemasks are necessary to protect the vulnerable parts of their bodies. In nonprofit organizations, we use risk management policies, staff training and volunteer screening protocols to protect the most vulnerable players in an organization, the people we serve.
  • The people who help you build the castle probably won’t knock it down. There is nothing more tempting to a young child than a tower of blocks carefully-constructed with painstaking effort by a nearby classmate who refuses to share the blocks. The offended child’s brain screams, "Hiii-yaaaah!" Relief is only achieved by giving in and knocking down the tower! The lesson here is that if you include others in developing your risk management policies, they will be the least likely to resist them or to tear them down once they are in place.
  • We all make mistakes. Most young children try so hard to please teachers, parents, coaches and other caregivers but it is inevitable that even with the best of intentions, they will make mistakes. Learning to say, “I’m sorry,” and move on is an important skill. Even when organizations anticipate and plan for risk, mistakes are made. Long-serving employees, dedicated volunteers and enthusiastic participants are also human and they too will make mistakes. Strive to create a culture where people feel comfortable admitting mistakes (rather than hiding them) and prepare to regroup and recover when the inevitable mistakes are made.

Like Kindergarten, risk management is a discipline that offers innumerable opportunities to learn. And like the first year of school, important lessons sometimes come in surprising packages, in unfamiliar environments, and from our interactions with other people while at work or play.

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.

“Come Together” — Collaboration is the New Black

Mark Addleson to Deliver Keynote at 2012 SUMMIT in Chicago

The nonprofit sector attracts extraordinarily creative leaders to support a wide range of causes. Yet many nonprofit missions languish under traditional, top-down management structures that are learned in graduate schools or in the halls of for-profits and nonprofits around the world. In his new book, “Beyond Management: Taking Charge at Work,” author, professor and management consultant Mark Addleson explores the failure of traditional management practices in 21st Century workplaces. During a provocative keynote at this year’s SUMMIT, Professor Addleson will share his thoughts on the role of collaboration in a nonprofit workplace, how to overcome common roadblocks to achieving real collaboration, and the best ways to “break the mold” of revered management systems with grace and savoir faire. Learn how to empower your paid and volunteer knowledge workers to make collective decisions that bolster your mission and propel your organization forward.

To learn more about the SUMMIT or take advantage of the early-bird registration rate, visit: www.nonprofitrisk.org/summit/default.asp. To book a room at the Hard Rock Hotel, the host venue for the conference, use the following link: Nonprofit Risk Management Hotel Reservations. The Hard Rock is offering discounted conference rates as low as $159 per night for SUMMIT attendees who reserve rooms before August 4, 2012.



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