About Us                         Services                         Contact Us            
June 17, 2015

Early Birds Save

The Early Bird rates for the 2015 Risk Summit expire at midnight on June 22nd--

less than a week from today. If you or a member of your team would benefit from fast-paced workshops or hands-on technique sessions led by risk thought leaders, visit the conference webpage and register today. A few spots remain for interested Corporate Sponsors of the conference: contact Kay Nakamura at 703.777.3504 to learn more about the benefits and opportunities associated with sponsor status.

Make Mission Magic by Tidying Up
By Melanie Lockwood Herman

During a short trip to Chicago last week I purchased an interesting book for the flight home: "The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up," by Marie Kondo. I was equally intrigued by--and skeptical of--the book's promise to change my life.


Marie Kondo is a Japanese cleaning consultant who divides the task of tidying one's home into two major tasks: 1. discarding, and 2. organizing. According to Kondo, you should not begin organizing your belongings until you have first discarded possessions that fail to "spark joy."


While pondering ways to apply the author's tidying strategies to my home tidying routine, I was struck by the book's simple messages and their eerie relevance to my work with complex nonprofits. Although it sounds like a bit of a stretch, I think Kondo's book on tidying offers a handful of crossover lessons for nonprofit leaders striving to sustain high-performing, forward-moving, mission-driven organizations. I found three lessons to be especially relevant:    

Less is More - Kondo helps her overwhelmed clients reduce the volume of their material possessions as a first step to decluttering their homes. While conducting Risk Assessments for our nonprofit clients, we are often surprised to discover voluminous employee handbooks, byzantine bylaws, and convoluted volunteer policies. A key task in any risk engagement with the Center is cleaning up the unnecessary clutter and confusion in these important documents. Our team finds (or creates) clarity amongst the chaos. Tuning up and paring back are critical steps to ensure that the mission of a nonprofit rests on a stable, affirming and hazard-free foundation. 
They Can't Take That Away From You - Kondo explains that clutter overwhelms the lives of her clients. Many people fear parting with their enormous collections of personal mementos, photos, and even outdated or ill-fitting clothing. Why? According to Kondo, the fear of discarding or donating stuff is linked to the mistaken belief that the memories associated with our physical possessions will dissipate when the items are no longer around. Kondo reminds her readers that cherished memories remain imprinted in our brains forever. Donating or discarding a souvenir from a long-ago vacation or paring down a collection of books at the nonprofit's headquarters can't eradicate the joy, pleasure or memories associated with these tangible objects. 
Find the Joy - One of the central themes in "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up," is that objects that provide or inspire joy should be kept and cared for. Anything that fails to meet this simple test should be discarded or donated. All nonprofit missions are founded on joy and inspiration, yet over time we allow some of that joy to be suffocated by complicated organizational structures, dampened by fear of legal liability, and extinguished by the pressure to do more with less. During my nearly 20-year career as a risk advisor to nonprofit leadership teams, I've repeatedly witnessed the reluctance to let go of long-standing rules, policies and practices. To restore and celebrate the joy in your mission, make a commitment to tidy up your organizational structure, written policies, and operational practices. "We've always done it this way" leads to organizational clutter and is simply not a good enough reason to continue using a policy or doing something that fails to produce a tangible, mission-advancing benefit. 

I am not qualified to offer advice on how to tidy one's living space. However, for many years now my team at the Nonprofit Risk Management Center has helped countless nonprofit leadership teams tidy up the policies, practices and structures that burden their missions. If you're looking for inspiration for the former, check out Kondo's best-selling book. If you need practical help with the latter, give us a call.

Melanie Herman is executive director of the Nonprofit Risk Management Center and welcomes questions about tidying your mission or risk management program at 703.777.3504 or Melanie@nonprofitrisk.org.

NEW - Insurance Fundamentals Issue of RME

The Spring Edition of Risk Management Essentials is now available. The "Insurance Fundamentals Issue" addresses topics of interest and relevance to nonprofit leaders responsible for securing commercial insurance for their organizations. The features in this brand-new resource include:

To access the searchable, online, magazine-style version of RME, click here. To download a printable PDF of the newsletter, click here. To read the articles online, click here. The Center is deeply grateful to our RME advertisers: 501(c) Agencies Trust , Philadelphia Insurance Companies and Great American Insurance Group. The support of these advertisers, and our Corporate Sustainers, makes the publication of RME possible.

Pass it On!
If you enjoy reading the Center's Risk eNews and know others who would as well, please use the Forward email link that appears at the bottom of this issue. The link offers an easy way to share this issue with a colleague. When you use the link your colleague will receive an invitation to subscribe.