Resources

Art Appreciation in a World of Risk

March 23, 2016 Art Appreciation in a World of Risk By Melanie Lockwood Herman Last week I took advantage of an opportunity to combine two of my favorite pastimes: reading and relaxation. While on a short vacation, I read 33 Artists in 3 Acts, by art world chronicler Sarah Thornton. In her never dull book, … Continued

Stuck in the Middle

August 26, 2015 By Melanie Lockwood Herman Certain melodies and lyrics get stuck in my head. In 1972, the single “Stuck in the Middle with You,” by Stealers Wheel, took up permanent residence in my brain. Peaking at #6 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart, the song was apparently inspired by a business lunch, … Continued

Battling Burnout

October 7, 2015 By Erin Gloeckner “We are short-staffed.” “We don’t have enough funds.” “We can’t afford to pay our employees more.” If the nonprofit sector had walls, and those walls could talk, they would certainly chant these commonly cited concerns of nonprofit leaders. Doing good is tough work, and consensus shows that many do-gooders … Continued

Inspiration, Not Perspiration: Risk Reporting and the Board

March 11, 2015 By Melanie Lockwood Herman Today’s public entity leadership cares deeply about the risks facing the organization. A Board wants to know that its leadership team has thoughtfully considered the risks that threaten the mission and objectives of the organization. Boards also want assurance that the leadership team has developed plans to keep … Continued

Your Biggest Security Risk is Close at Hand

March 25, 2015 By Arley Turner According to an article titled “Planet of the Phones” featured in the 2/25/15 edition of The Economist, by 2020 over 80% of adults will have a smartphone, and 80% of current smartphone users reach for their phones within 15 minutes after waking up. I am one of them. After … Continued

Ask and You Shall Receive

May 6, 2015 By Melanie Lockwood Herman I’ve been a movie fan since December 1971, when I saw a film on a big screen for the first time, Bedknobs and Brooksticks. So I was immediately drawn to an article titled “The man of many questions,” co-written by successful movie producer Brian Grazer and featured in … Continued

Inspire True and Triumphant Teams

June 10, 2015 By Melanie Lockwood Herman Few leaders are willing to face the wrath of their friends and peers and speak ill of “teamwork.” Yet too often we use the words “team” and “teamwork” when we really mean work groups or a process involving a group of co-workers, while ignoring some of the difficult … Continued

Put Values in the Spotlight

By Melanie Lockwood Herman The September 2014 issue of Fast Company features a wonderful profile of Tory Burch, the designer and entrepreneur whose empire began with the opening of a single retail store in NYC in 2004. Ten years later, the “affordable luxury” brand has 2,000 employees and 85+ stores worldwide. Revenue has grown from … Continued

Take a Hike: How to Earn Your Trail Name

By Kitty Holt Each summer my extended family goes camping for a long weekend, and a family activity is built into the camping trip, such as river rafting, canoeing, etc. During last year’s camping trip, the plan was to go on a short hike, one that family members of all ages could enjoy. My brother … Continued

Developing Position Descriptions

Position descriptions are a critical part of the staff screening process. Position descriptions spell out the requirements of the job and help to identify possible risks associated with that position. By understanding these risks, organizations are better able to select individuals who are capable of performing the position’s duties, but who do not constitute an … Continued

The Risk Management Process

By the Nonprofit Risk Management Center Measures to address risk should be practical and within the reach of the organization. Every nonprofit, from the largest to the smallest, can and should take time to look into the future and predict both downside and upside risks. In fact risk management is extremely important for small nonprofits … Continued

Keeping Our Eye on the Ball

By the Nonprofit Risk Management Center  Just days ago the Commissioner of the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division of the IRS, Steve Miller, told exempt organization lawyers gathered in Washington that the IRS will be “more aggressive” in monitoring the “efficiency and effectiveness” of charitable organizations. And this week, grantmakers from all over the … Continued

Managing Risk in Challenging_Times

By the Nonprofit Risk Management Center Team  In the past weeks, the financial markets have taken us on a wild ride. At the Center we’ve counseled several organizations coming to grips with the impact of this changing financial reality. As each of us braces our organizations for the anticipated, yet still unknown effects of the … Continued

Front-Line Risk Managers in Senior Service

By the Nonprofit Risk Management Center  Individuals who regularly visit older individuals and who witness family situations, living conditions, and physical and mental changes obtain a valuable opportunity to detect serious consequences of aging before serious consequences can result. One of the most serious consequences of aging has little to do with the physical and … Continued

It’s a Small World

By Melanie Lockwood Herman Frameworks for understanding and managing risk within organizations—often referred to as risk management “standards” exist in various forms throughout the world. Last week I had a wonderful opportunity to participate in the ongoing discussion about how voluntary standards and regulatory oversight of industry inspire, encourage and in some cases, coerce adherence … Continued

2010: An Odyssey of Your Making

By Melanie Lockwood Herman Instead of dreaming about sugar-plums, many nonprofit leaders will fall asleep tomorrow evening dreaming about better times for the organizations they serve. Let’s face it, 2009 was a rough year for the vast majority of organizations that provide vital social services, deliver inspired cultural programs, and conduct research and advocacy to … Continued

Employee Separations: Learn to Say Goodbye

By Melanie Lockwood Herman The Jackson Five version of the Davis Clifton song “Never Can Say Goodbye” has enjoyed a lot of airtime lately. Although the song has nothing to do with employer-employee separations, hearing it reminds me of the heartache that many nonprofit executives face with they realize that it IS time to say … Continued

Conquer Your Fear with Familiarity

By Melanie Lockwood Herman I’ve often remarked that, in the absence of fear, few nonprofit leaders would look to the Nonprofit Risk Management Center for advice and assistance. Fear motivates leaders to attend risk management workshops, purchase online tools, and read the books and guides we publish. Yes, fear can be a good thing, but … Continued

Risk Management Culture and Your Volunteers

By Melanie Lockwood Herman We’ve been obsessed with “culture” in recent weeks. At a conference I attended in Toronto in mid-August Nancy Axelrod, governance guru and founding President of the Nonprofit Risk Management Center told an audience of nonprofit CEOs that “culture trumps strategy.” Nancy’s comments reminded me that no matter how carefully a nonprofit’s … Continued

Risk and the Art of the Motorcycle

By Melanie Lockwood Herman On Sunday of this week I was blessed to have the opportunity to reflect on two favorite subjects: motorcycles and risk management. Sunday, September 6th was the birthday of Robert Pirsig, author of the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. On this day I was among the riders at … Continued

Perspective: How Do You See Your Nonprofit?

By Melanie Lockwood Herman As we reach the home stretch in our preparations for the 2009 Risk Management & Finance Summit for Nonprofits all roads lead to Austin, TX, the site of the event… except, or so it seems, the road I happen to be traveling this week! I am driving across the beautiful state … Continued

Intriguing Intangibles

By Melanie Lockwood Herman I’ve been reading an interesting book this week about the application of core concepts from the field of quantum physics to organizational planning. The book, The Art of Quantum Planning, by Gerald Harris, explores the idea of planning as a form of “organizational thinking.” Harris argues that while the goals of … Continued

One Thing

By Melanie Lockwood Herman This week I’ve been attending a conference of association leaders gathered for a shared purpose: to re-energize. Of course there are many ways to define “re-energize.” For me (and I suspect for others), the opportunity to “re-energize” is the chance to unearth and adapt a new approach for managing the challenges … Continued

It’s Hard to Be Humble

By Melanie Lockwood Herman Confidence and leadership appear to go hand in hand. Effective leaders both project and inspire confidence. Since those responsible for risk management in a nonprofit organization are leaders it seems to follow that confidence should be part and parcel of every risk management effort. Yet according to business guru and author … Continued

It’s Almost, Never

By Melanie Lockwood Herman The subject of “being late” has a starring role in literature, popular music, and every day conversation. Despite the fact that we spend a lot of time worrying about being late, we often wind up behind schedule. Many tasks and journeys take longer than first anticipated. As a result, we apologize … Continued

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something You

By Melanie Lockwood Herman This week we have reached the home stretch in our preparations for the 2010 Risk Management & Finance Summit for Nonprofits and in a few days we will pack up and make the short journey to Philadelphia, the site of the Center’s annual conference. I am looking forward to re-connecting with … Continued

All Dressed Up

By Melanie Lockwood Herman Invitations to office parties, family get-togethers and school events seem to fill mail boxes and e-mail inboxes this time of year. Although a growing number of nonprofits are experimenting with events for which one is expected to purchase a ticket but “stay home,” invitations to make an appearance continue to be … Continued

Hiring and Performance: Critical Areas of Risk for Every Nonprofit

By Melanie Lockwood Herman I’ve been reading a terrific book this week titled Strategic Risk Taking: A Framework for Risk Management, by Aswath Damodaran. One of my favorite insights in the book is the reference to the work of Glyn A. Holton who posits that two “ingredients” are necessary for a risk to exist. The … Continued

The Risks of Automation

By Melanie Lockwood Herman During a recent flight to the west coast I had the opportunity to see a film titled Extract. Although I pride myself on having a sense of humor, I’m often surprised when something touted as “funny” fails to make me laugh. It generally happens in the form of video clips sent … Continued

The Missing Piece

By Melanie Lockwood Herman I recently found myself studying several maps of a city known for its circuitous routes and maze of historic cobblestone alleyways. The map provided by the sightseeing tour bus operator was helpful to the extent that the location of stops along the route were clearly marked. The map included in my … Continued

Reality Check: The Myth of Multitasking and Debunking The Blame Game

By Melanie Lockwood Herman Feedback from a reader of the NRMC’s eNews reminded me of one theme in one of the most thought-provoking “books” currently residing on my electronic reading device. The book, by Joseph T. Hallinan is titled: Why We Make Mistakes: How We Look Without Seeing, Forget Things in Seconds, and Are All … Continued

Conquering the Fear of Scrutiny

By Melanie Lockwood Herman I Would Prefer That You Not Look To err is human. And to fear scrutiny of our shortcomings is human nature. Although the popularity of reality TV shows suggests otherwise, most people value their privacy and would prefer to keep television cameras out of their homes. It should not be surprising … Continued

The Grand Finale

By Melanie Lockwood Herman It’s finale week on reality TV. Several of the most popular reality shows on network television wrap up this week, with winners and “losers” receiving prize money, trophies, apprenticeships and recording contracts. In my experience many nonprofit leaders approach the process of managing risk as a seasonal exercise. In the view … Continued

The Power of Ten

By Melanie Lockwood Herman Earlier today I received a notice about a school-related function that will be held on 10/10/10, a date the invitation described as “The Powers of Ten Day.” While reading the notice I was reminded that the line-up for Center’s annual conference will include a number of firsts, including six workshops offering … Continued

Near, Clear and Substantial

By Melanie Lockwood Herman Human beings are more generous with their time and money—and more willing to help victims who are in close proximity, with whom they feel a sense of kinship, and when they feel that their generosity will be more than a “drop in the bucket.” In contrast, we tend to be less … Continued

Back to School

By Melanie Lockwood Herman Across the country countless parents and caregivers have been scrambling in recent weeks to get their young charges ready for another school year. My daughter seems to be one of the few kids returning to school after Labor Day, which gave our family a little extra time to obsess about everything … Continued

May I Have Your Attention Please?

By Melanie Lockwood Herman This week I’ve been reading Daniel Kahneman’s terrific book, Thinking Fast and Slow. Many readers will recognize the author as the past recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences and recall his ground-breaking work—with Amos Tversky—on the subject of decision-making. Kahneman begins Thinking Fast and Slow by reminding his reader … Continued

Finding Danger in What Lies Beneath

By Melanie Lockwood Herman While I agree with the saying, “you can’t judge a book by its cover,” I’ve discovered that books with clever titles* are often great reads. I’ve been reading a fascinating new book this week titled “Slow Death by Rubber Duck: The Secret Danger of Everyday Things,” by Rick Smith and Bruce … Continued

Less Worry, More Happy

By Melanie Lockwood Herman While visiting family this week the subject of Bobby McFerrin’s song, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” came up in a conversation about traffic on Cape Cod during the high season for visitors. “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” was released in 1988 and became the first a cappella song to reach #1 on the … Continued

What’s in Your Fanny Pack?

By Melanie Lockwood Herman I’ve noticed that the fanny pack has made a comeback this Summer. For those who are loathe to carry a handbag or “man bag,” the fanny pack offers an alternative catch all big enough to hold a water bottle, sunscreen, cell phone and other heat wave necessities. The light-weight, just-enough space, … Continued

Nothing to Fear but Fear

By Melanie Lockwood Herman In the Quaker village where I live, Halloween is more than an opportunity to see little ones in this year’s most popular costumes. A handful of villagers spend months planning elaborate displays that will delight or frighten the customary throngs of families foraging for treats. Homes and homeowners are decked out … Continued

Got Instinct?

By Melanie Lockwood Herman Earlier this week, a friend who works in the entertainment industry told me that at the point when the curtain goes up on a Broadway show or the band emerges from the wings at a sold-out concert arena, the team behind the scenes must rely principally on instinct. He explained that … Continued

Let’s Get Civilized

By Melanie Lockwood Herman This past weekend I had an opportunity to share my thoughts on the “Top 10 Risks Facing Nonprofit Organizations,” at a conference of dedicated staff and volunteer leaders. What makes a presentation on this topic fun for me—aside from the sheer impossibility of predicting the wonderful questions I’ll get from the … Continued

Are You Too Important to Fail?

By Melanie Lockwood Herman Many nonprofit organizations are created for the noble mission of serving others. But sometimes even the most giving organizations find themselves catering to a need that no longer exists. What then? Do you high-five your colleagues, shutter your doors and send your volunteers home? No. If you suspect that your mission … Continued

Black, White and Sometimes… Grey

By Melanie Lockwood Herman On Sunday I had the good fortune of visiting The Phillips Collection, a wonderful, too-often-missed museum in the heart of Washington, DC. I was lured by the opportunity to see a special exhibit (“Variations on a Theme”) of the work of Jasper Johns. Before proceeding to see “Variations on a Theme,” … Continued

Real Partners Plan Ahead

By Melanie Lockwood Herman Last week I was reminded that the word “risk” lurks behind the seemingly harmless term, “alliance.” While attempting to check-in to the final two legs in a multi-city itinerary, I was informed by the counter agent at SAS Airlines that there was no information on my final leg—the flight that would … Continued

Risk and the Board: What Could Go Wrong?

By Melanie Lockwood Herman During my career I’ve reported to and served on some terrific nonprofit boards. And something I’ve learned first-hand is that no two nonprofit boards are exactly alike. From size, to focus to meeting format, nonprofit boards are perhaps best compared to snowflakes: each is different in some respects from the others. … Continued

3 Risk Resolutions

By Alexandra Ricketts and Melanie Herman The beginning of a new year is a wonderful time to begin tackling a fresh set of goals. Whether your list of goals is personal, professional or related to the vision and mission of your nonprofit, we all have hopes and expectations for the coming year. In the paragraphs … Continued

Myths of Volunteer Risk Management ‹ Part 3

Myths of Volunteer Risk Management — Part 3 by Hal Denton and Fiona Lally This is the third in a series of articles concerning myths about volunteer liability. This installment covers the concept of agency as it relates to volunteer activities and how an organization should address its potential liability for the actions of its … Continued

Calculated Risk: Three Foundations

Calculated Risk: Rocket Man by Dennis M. Kirschbaum, ARM OK, I admit it. I was a Trekkie. No not Voyager, not The Next Generation, I am talking about the original three seasons. No cracks about my showing my age, please. I watched ’em in reruns, OK? I never went to Star Trek conventions or glued … Continued

Stepping Back: The Outer Rim of Risk

Stepping Back: The Outer Rim of Risk By Melanie Lockwood Herman The discipline of risk management invites a close-up examination of events and circumstances that threaten the mission and goals of an organization or that offer the promise of mission-advancing benefit. Nonprofit CEOs, CFOs, senior staff and even board members are instinctively drawn to taking … Continued

Calculated Risk: The Risk Management Checkup: Ten Tips

Calculated Risk The Risk Management Checkup: Ten Tips by Dennis M. Kirschbaum, ARM Most of you who are reading this newsletter have given some thought to managing risk within your organizations. You’ve taken a look at your insurance requirements, reviewed your personnel policies, examined your service delivery to make sure that safety procedures are being … Continued

Calculated Risk: The End of the World as We’ve Known It Not!

Calculated Risk The End of the World as We’ve Known It — Not! by Dennis M. Kirschbaum, ARM During the last century, a handful of historians and academicians debated the question of who was the first risk manager. In his new book, The Polar Bear Strategy, author John Ross traces back the history of risk … Continued