Hallmarks of a Risk-Aware Nonprofit

Hallmark #5: Cultivates a ‘Can-Do’ Attitude Among Paid and Volunteer Staff

The Challenge

When everyone takes responsibility for finding and fixing safety hazards and other downside risks, a ‘can-do’ risk management culture is created. Moreover, when a nonprofit encourages a ‘can-do’ risk management culture, half the battle is won. Staff with a ‘can-do’ risk management mindset can reduce accidents and injuries and encourage others to ask the crucial question: ‘How can we safely host this event/sponsor this program/provide this vital service?’

Employees and volunteers who are educated about spotting risks are confident in their own judgment that something presents a hazard, and are empowered to take action. In nonprofits that cultivate a ‘can-do’ attitude, the senior staff and board send the signal together that there is ‘no permission needed’ to address risks on the spot.

In nonprofits with a ‘can-do’ culture, everyone is a risk manager.

The Process

To cultivate a ‘can-do’ attitude among paid and volunteer staff, your nonprofit will:

  1. Encourage staff and volunteers to participate in risk management and safe activities throughout all programs and levels of the organization.
  2. Highlight, through internal and external communications, all the safety efforts that have been fruitful in the past.
  3. Reward staff who identify risk and loss issues and reward those who work to reduce loss and mitigate risks.
  4. Keep safety messages in plain sight, posted in an area that is relevant to the message.
  5. Recognize staff teams, departments or program areas that have operated safely or reported risks or suggested ways to reduce risks.
  6. Practice effective role modeling and mentoring: the risk management champion and senior decision makers should each set an example in their daily work.
  7. Implement an ‘open door’ policy or other procedures for reporting hazards or risky activities as well as a “whistleblower protection policy.” Communicate the procedures to everyone: paid and volunteer staff, including the board.