The Power of Anecdote: True Stories of Nonprofit Risk from the Front Lines

By Christy Grano While attending the Risk Summit, it occurred to me that a powerful benefit of the conference was the opportunity to exchange true stories and tough lessons learned on the frontlines of nonprofit service. After hearing several leaders describe how their organizations narrowly escaped significant losses or recovered from a loss, I began … Continued

Risk Management Activity Planning: How to Get Unstuck after a Risk Assessment

Risk assessment can sometimes be overwhelming, resulting in a lengthy, daunting list of risks that need to be managed. Prioritizing the list of risks is another challenge, often resulting in arbitrary numerical scores. Attend this webinar to simplify your approach to risk assessment, and to focus your energy on implementing risk management activities instead of … Continued

Revamp Your Risk Register

By Erin Gloeckner Of the conventional, commonplace risk management tools, the risk register seems to reign supreme. Typically a chart or spreadsheet that details risk information and management controls, I sometimes wonder why template risk registers continue to pique the interest of teams that have tailored and customized other aspects of their risk management programs. … Continued

Don’t Be a Buzzkill: Restore Trust in Risk Leaders

By Erin Gloeckner Recently, an NRMC Affiliate Member wrote to our team asking how to convince her peers that risk management is in fact a mission driver, rather than a drag. Buy-in for risk management initiatives is sometimes hard to obtain because team members are resistant; the other side of the problem is that sometimes … Continued

How Neuroscience and Risk Management Link to Fear and Memory

“To our brains, daily life is like tightrope-walking over a vast pit full of furious honey badgers and broken glass; one wrong move and you’ll end up as a gruesome mess in temporary but exquisite pain.” – Dean Burnett, Idiot Brain: What Your Head is Really Up To By Melanie Lockwood Herman To prep for … Continued

Risk Lessons from Soccer’s Sidelines

By Eric Henkel I spent a big chunk of time recently as a supportive sideline spectator at a soccer tournament with my kids. They play on two different teams, so there were a lot of games and not much downtime. While sidelined, it occurred to me that like the parents of competing soccer players, risk … Continued

Belt and Suspenders: Redundancy in Risk Practice

By Melanie Lockwood Herman “Daring and prudence, when used together, lead to new and safe structures.” – Why Buildings Fall Down I was reminded of several risk practice fundamentals this week while reading a fascinating book, Why Buildings Fall Down. The book chronicles structural failures, including the collapse of dams, bridges, stadiums, and buildings, and … Continued

Love My Way – Resources for Risk-taking

By Melanie Lockwood Herman “You can never win or lose. If you don’t run the race.” – Love My Way by The Psychedelic Furs Driving my home on Valentine’s Day my radio was tuned to 1st Wave on Sirius/XM and a special program featuring love songs from the 1980s. First up was one of my … Continued

Don’t Get Stuck in a Rut, Trust Your Gut

By Melanie Lockwood Herman “You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.” – Alan Alda In last week’s Risk eNews (“Embrace Your Leaky Brain to Conquer the Unknown“) I shared a lesson from the book … Continued

Embrace Your Leaky Brain to Conquer the Unknown

By Melanie Lockwood Herman This week I was dismayed to learn about the damaging effects and destructive force of a leaky faucet. For the past two weeks I have noticed–but repeatedly ignored–a strangely stiff faucet handle and minor leak in one of my sinks at home. Now it’s time to pay the piper, or in … Continued

Reversing Decisions: Risk Lessons from the Peanut Gallery

By Eric Henkel Changing your mind and reversing a previous decision generally seems like something to avoid. However, it may be the best thing to do when new information makes it prudent to do so. A recent New York Times article about peanut allergies discusses new guidelines issued by the National Institute of Allergy and … Continued

Glossary of Risk Management and Insurance Terms

This glossary was originally published in Coverage, Claims and Consequences: An Insurance Handbook for Nonprofits. Accident — Unexpected or chance event. This term is frequently defined in older commercial general liability (CGL) policies. Accident medical reimbursement insurance — Covers medical expenses for injuries arising out of accidents, regardless of liability. Traditionally also provides a schedule … Continued

Proper Planning Prevents Poor Meeting Performance

By Eric Henkel Many of the employees we meet in Center-led Risk Assessments yearn for a more generous communications loop in their organizations. Our team has also observed the growing interdependency of work tasks and the need for thoughtful collaboration and communication. Email and instant messaging may feel like time-saving communications tools, but they are … Continued

How to Go Around or Over the Bumps in the Road

By Erin Gloeckner This holiday season has been a hectic one for me. The eve of Thanksgiving Day, I drove a few hours to visit family in West Virginia, and I hit a buck on the highway going 70 MPH. Miraculously my boyfriend Alex, my dog Hugo and I were not hurt, but the hood … Continued

Lessons on Learning

By Melanie Lockwood Herman This month I’ve been reading Nonsense: The Power of Not Knowing, by Jamie Holmes. One of the memorable reminders in the book is about the importance of learning, something my team has been focused on recently as we prepare to unveil our 2017 line-up of risk-learning and leadership opportunities for nonprofit … Continued

Say What? How Unconscious Bias Affects Our Perceptions

By Eric Henkel You probably regularly encounter situations where you are convinced that you know exactly what is going on, only to find out that things are the exact opposite of what you thought. When it comes to how we view our environment and the people we interact with, there is often a disconnect between … Continued

You’ve Got a Friend in Me

By Melanie Lockwood Herman “When the road looks rough ahead, and you’re miles and miles from your nice warm bed… you just remember what your old pal said, ‘Boy, you’ve got a friend in me.'” – You’ve Got a Friend In Me, by Randy Newman (from the movie Toy Story) In her article titled, “Do … Continued

5 Questions to Re-Focus Your Risk Function

By Melanie Lockwood Herman A colleague recently sent me a copy of “The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization,” a book organized around a short list of simple but provocative and powerful questions. In a series of essays authored by familiar management luminaries, the book offers a straightforward way to … Continued

Unmasking the Discipline of Risk Management

By Melanie Lockwood Herman Note: This article is excerpted from the Nonprofit Risk Management Center’s book, Ready…or Not: A Risk Management Guide for Nonprofit Executives. The discipline of risk management is incorrectly masked in mystery. Leaders of nonprofit organizations may believe that formulas can be applied to discern both the likelihood of good or harm … Continued

Going Up? Elevator Talk, Risk Management and the Nonprofit Board

By Melanie Lockwood Herman The Board of Directors sits atop the organizational chart of a nonprofit organization. Board issues are either self-initiated or are “elevated” by staff for board consideration. Both approaches are inherently necessary to the board’s governance role. And while there are myriad definitions, governance is essentially the “means in which the leading … Continued

Risk Champions: What’s in a Name?

The risk champion in a nonprofit may be called Risk Manager, CFO, Chief Risk Officer, Director of Special Projects or even CEO. Despite the varying titles, the clear trend in the nonprofit sector is to designate a point person to champion the design and implementation of best-in-class risk management. This webinar explores the role of … Continued

Risk Management and Strategic Planning

Nonprofit leaders are long accustomed to strategic planning exercises that involve the examination of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The fine-tuning of an organization’s vision” and “mission” statements is often part of the process. This webinar will explore ways to integrate an appreciation for risk into your planning cycle. Learn how to update your planning … Continued

Top 10 HR Risks Facing Nonprofit Organizations

Watch this webinar to learn what’s hot, what’s problematic, what’s on the horizon, and what to look out for in Human Resources in 2011. Tune up your HR practices with sound policies, careful reflection on past mistakes and mishaps, and a positive attitude.

Obtaining Buy-In and Support for Your Critical Risk Management Policies

Getting staff and volunteers to answer the question: “What’s in it for me?” can be a very effective impetus for following risk management policies. In-service training that elicits their ideas on how to make the workplace safer in general and in their areas specifically will engage people in the solutions and make them understand why … Continued

Risk Management’s Unintended Consequences

Have you ever done a good deed just to realize later that it resulted in some unintended, negative consequence? Perhaps this realization came after implementing new risk management practices at your nonprofit. After reading a CEB report titled 'Reducing Risk Management's Organizational Drag,' I agreed with the authors' perspective that risk management can sometimes result … Continued

Reality Check: Using References Effectively

November 4, 2015 By Emily Stumhofer Do you ever wish you could meet a literary character in real life, rather than from simply reading about the character through the eyes of a narrator? Although a face-to-face meeting Sherlock Holmes, Jane Eyre, Robinson Crusoe, or even Hermione Granger might be fun, to get the clearest picture … Continued

Tis the Season for Nonprofit Fundraising Risk: Part 1

December 9, 2015 By Erin Gloeckner Twas the month before the new calendar year, Not a creature was stirring, not even a reindeer. The development officers hung their stockings with care, In hopes that new funding would soon be there. You may recognize the inspiration for the poem above (‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ or … Continued

Tis the Season for Nonprofit Fundraising Risk: Part 2

December 9, 2015 By Emily Stumhofer The holiday season abounds with fundraisers for charitable organizations and many people are happy to give, perhaps more than they would in other seasons. However, the flip side of the charitable coin is that a pledge to donate in the future can sometimes wind up being a costly risk, … Continued

Join the Culture Club

December 23, 2015 By Melanie Lockwood Herman Assuming you love your job, what is it about your nonprofit that makes it a wonderful place to work? Despite the undeniable uniqueness of nonprofits, most organizations have the following elements in common: a compelling mission, a defined leadership structure, multiple stakeholder groups and vulnerability to financial stress … Continued

HELP! I Need Somebody’s Risk Help

March 16, 2016 If you’ve ever heard the catchy Beatles tune, Help!, it might have caused you to reflect on times you’ve sought help in your personal or professional life. Here at the Center, we offer RISK HELP and risk management guidance to our valued Affiliate Members and consulting clients. In today’s RISK eNews, the … Continued

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

Make Mission Magic by Tidying Up

June 17, 2015 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 … Continued

Storm Season: Risk Lessons from Tornado Alley

July 8, 2015 By Emily Wilson Dark storm clouds were just beginning to swallow the sky over my college house as my phone started making an eerily familiar sound. While growing up in Alabama, I often heard tornado watch and tornado warning alerts broadcasting from the sirens mounted on posts every few miles along the … Continued

So Good

September 30, 2015 by Melanie Lockwood Herman Throughout my life I’ve shied away from buying items of clothing that prominently advertise a corporate brand. As a child I recall my father saying that if he were ever to purchase a shirt featuring a certain reptile emblem, he would immediately cut it off before wearing it. … Continued

Obsessed with a Cure: Why Risk Champions Should Think Differently

By Arley Turner Last week I came across a TEDX talk by a student at Carnegie Mellon University on the topic of living with and managing ADHD. My ADD brain went “OH” and clicked “play.” Not only was the student, Stephen Tonti, funny and engaging, but his experiences and opinions on ADHD really resonated with … Continued

How the Grinch Stole the Workplace

January 22, 2015 By Erin Gloeckner It’s normal to have a cranky day at work, but string together too many cranky days and you might start sounding like the Grinch. You’ve worked with a Grinch before—that employee who makes snide remarks, starts rumors, complains without end, or uses body language and other behaviors to display … Continued

A Word of Advice

February 11, 2015 By Melanie Lockwood Herman Helping our members think through their risk-related challenges is incredibly rewarding. We approach member questions as wonderful opportunities to learn about and understand the pressure points in risk practice in the public, nonprofit, and business sectors. But although we formulate and dispense Risk Help each and every day, … Continued

Can’t Touch This: How to Bring Your Strategic Plan Back to Life

February 25, 2015 By Melanie Lockwood Herman In an article titled “Why Strategy Execution Fails—and What to Do About It,” in the March 2015 edition of the Harvard Business Review, authors Donald Sull, Rebecca Homkes and Charles Sull explore what happens when mission-advancing strategies collide with the realities of organizational life. The authors cite several … 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

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

What Do You Know About D&O?

This issue of Risk Management Essentials is devoted to exploring nonprofit insurance policies and coverages. While there are many different policy types and forms with which risk leaders should be aware, one of the most talked-about and valued policies for nonprofits continues to be directors and officers liability insurance, commonly known as D&O. Question #1: … Continued

Trust Me

By Melanie Lockwood Herman In “Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action,” Simon Sinek writes that “trusting relationships are invaluable for us to feel safe.” Entity leadership teams who want to fully embrace risk management should begin by getting on board with trust. This simple goal—fostering a trusting environment—can mean the … Continued

Popcorn Anyone? Risk in the Movies

By Melanie Lockwood Herman and Erin Gloeckner This week we read a wonderful article published by the American Bar Association about how trial stories are sometimes inspired by movie plots. It caused us to reminisce about a few personal, “ah ha” moments while watching films on the big screen. Here are a few favorite film … Continued

Risk Mind Readers

By Lexie Williams I had the opportunity to interview conference presenter Dr. Nitish Singh about the advantages of implementing psychometric testing in order to improve risk management programs. Read on to find out how Dr. Singh’s psychometric powers could apply to your public entity. What is psychometric testing and what is the benefit of applying … Continued

Fascinated by Uncertainty

By H. Felix Kloman Review of John Brockman, ed., The Universe: Leading Scientists Explore the Origin, Mysteries, and Future of the Cosmos, HarperCollins, New York 2014 Who are we? What do we know about our “universe?” What are our future possibilities? These are the questions posed to some eighteen physicists and cosmologists in the latest … Continued

Enough is Enough: Banish Meeting Madness

By Emily Stumhofer We all go to meetings, sometimes even multiple meetings in the same day. A recent Bain & Company study reports that managers spend 15 percent of their time in meetings, and executives spend two full days per week in meetings. And according to a report on the “state of the modern meeting” … Continued

We Are the Champions, My Friends: Risk Champion Q&A

By Erin Gloeckner Risk management is a team sport. A team approach encourages the consideration of alternative perspectives on risk, as well as integration of aligned risk management practices throughout your organization. Still, it helps to have an experienced risk management thought leader on board; this ‘risk champion’ can inspire buy-in from the whole team … Continued

Operational Risk Management: A Word from the Wise Guys

Operational Risk Management: A Word from the Wise Guys By Melanie Lockwood Herman Although a growing number of nonprofit leaders profess to be ready for Enterprise Risk Management, a far greater number admit that their operational risk management programs are far from adequate. What is operational risk management? The term refers to risk identification, risk … Continued

The Nitty Gritty of a Risk Committee

By Melanie Lockwood Herman “Let’s form a committee!” is the frequent battle cry of nonprofit leaders facing a complex problem for which there are no obvious, immediate or cheap solutions. When more than one brain is needed to ponder a perplexing problem, forming a committee seems to be a good first step. But are risk … Continued

Enterprise Risk Management: The Final Frontier

By Melanie Lockwood Herman It’s hard not to notice the growing use of the term “Enterprise Risk Management” among risk professionals. Yet there seems to be little agreement about what that combination of three words really means, and perhaps more importantly, whether the addition of “enterprise” to the more familiar term “risk management” makes a … Continued

How to be the World’s Smartest Risk Manager

By Melanie Lockwood Herman I’ve just finished the National Geographic book, “How to Be the World’s Smartest Traveler.” Who doesn’t want to be the world’s “smartest” anything?! As a big fan of the expression, “don’t believe everything you read,” I had no expectation of becoming the world’s smartest traveler when I cracked the cover of … 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

My Generation Reaping the Rewards of a Multigenerational Workforce

My Generation: Reaping the Rewards of a Multigenerational Workforce By Melanie Lockwood Herman and Arley Turner Nonprofit missions require high performing, collegial work teams. And increasingly, nonprofit workplaces are staffed by individuals from three, four or even five generations. These intergenerational staff teams are charged with delivering services and programs that advance ambitious, communityserving missions. … 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

The Role of Resilience in Risk Management

By Melanie Lockwood Herman As consultants to diverse organizations we encounter dedicated leaders and the nonprofits they serve at various stages of their respective risk management journeys. On one day we may consult with the board of a nonprofit considering the risks and rewards of a significant change in governance or structure (e.g., a merger … Continued

The Power of Salt

By Melanie Lockwood Herman I thoroughly enjoy cooking and entertaining. Recently, I have had salt on my mind. Perhaps it is because of a speech I heard that reminded me of growing up and learning to cook. My sister and I prepared meals for the family once a week. One night we made pancakes. In … Continued

Halloween, Unmasking Risk and Your Nonprofit

By Melanie Lockwood Herman You’ve probably heard it from others or perhaps have even uttered it yourself: Halloween isn’t the same as it was “back in the day.” When I was a child Halloween costumes began as grand concepts that morphed into wearable works of art over a period of days or weeks. And the … Continued

Managing Risk in an Improbable World

By Melanie Lockwood Herman In his fascinating book, Struck by Lightning: The Curious World of Probabilities, University of Toronto professor Jeffrey S. Rosenthal explores the science of probabilities. Rosenthal’s text offers a compelling argument for thoughtful risk management while reminding readers to accept the ever-present companion of “randomness.” According to Rosenthal, randomness is often neither … Continued

Truth Be Told

By Melanie Lockwood Herman Truthfulness is an important value in the nonprofit sector. We see ourselves as people with integrity and we encourage and expect that our staff, volunteers, clients and other stakeholders will be truth-tellers. We recognize the critical need for truthfulness when issuing financial statements, reporting on the use of grant funds, filing … Continued

Learning from Experience

By Melanie Lockwood Herman As our country prepares for the annual holiday where Americans predictably over-indulge, I’ve been reflecting on an important concept in risk management: the role of experience. As I’ve told many audiences, experience is an invaluable risk management tool available to every nonprofit leader. Yet as Paul J. H. Schoemaker reminds us, … Continued

The Flaw of Unintended Consequences

By Melanie Lockwood Herman My travels often involve taxi rides and I find that there is much to learn while traveling from the airport to the center city. Sometimes the lessons are provided through a conversation with a taxi driver, while in other cases I learn simply from observing my surroundings. During a short trip … 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

Back to Basics: Effective Risk Management May Require Culture Change

By Melanie Lockwood Herman When nonprofit leaders reach out to the NRMC for advice on weaving risk management into the fabric of their organizations they often assume that what’s missing is a long list of policies. While adding new or updating existing policies may be in order, a bigger-picture issue almost always requires more immediate … Continued

Learning from Loss: Risk Management Wisdom May Be Close at Hand

By Melanie Lockwood Herman I have had the opportunity to participate in many programs that showcase “great ideas” emanating from success. In one instance I served on the selection committee for an awards program that recognizes excellent management techniques. Representatives of the “finalists” for the award share their management innovations in a workshop. The most … 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

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

Influence Matters: Stakeholders and Risk

By Melanie Lockwood Herman What is a Stakeholder? One way to define the concept of “stakeholder” is a party who has a “stake” in control of the nonprofit because he or she is in position to exercise influence over the organization’s conduct. Another definition is individuals and groups who can affect and are affected by … Continued

Shift Happens

By Melanie Lockwood Herman I’ve been engrossed in the pages of a new book this week: Surviving and Thriving in Uncertainty: Creating the Risk Intelligent Enterprise by Frederick Funston and Stephen Wagner. The pages of this text offer a refreshing approach to integrating the principles of effective risk management into organizational planning, strategy-setting and decision … 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

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

An Ounce of Experience is Worth a Pound of Speculation Maybe

By Melanie Lockwood Herman During last week’s Risk Management & Finance Summit for Nonprofits in Philadelphia, attendees heard a variety of messages about ways to consider and manage risk they encounter in their nonprofit organizations. Various themes were explored in plenary and workshop formats. One of the most powerful themes expressed in different ways from … Continued

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

By Melanie Lockwood Herman The recent, abrupt change in weather this week offered a reminder about the importance of preparation. Yesterday morning I retraced my steps into the house to retrieve a pair of gloves for the drive to the office. I was not prepared for the cool temperature and rather surprised to see my … Continued

History’s Mysteries… Unearth to Understand

By Melanie Lockwood Herman Although no new episodes are being produced, re-runs of the long-running program “History’s Mysteries” appear from time to time on the History Channel. The program capably debunks the idea that history is boring and offers compelling evidence of the expression “truth is stranger than fiction.” Recently, while watching an episode of … Continued

Buyer’s Remorse

By Melanie Lockwood Herman In a thought-provoking “CEO to CEO” feature article in the September/October 2010 edition of Associations Now magazine, four CEOs were asked: “If you could take back one business decision you’ve made in the last five years, what would it be?” Three of the four answers revealed regret in the area of … Continued

Making My List and Checking It Twice

By Melanie Lockwood Herman Humorist Robert Benchley wrote that, “There are two kinds of people in the world: those who divide the world into two kinds of people, and those who don’t.” I’m in the first category. Although I’m intuitively aware of the dangers of oversimplification, from time to time I can’t help myself. In … Continued

Salty and Sweet

By Melanie Lockwood Herman Recently I’ve noticed an interesting trend in restaurant desserts: the addition of salt as a prominent ingredient. Experienced home cooks know that a small amount of salt is typically present in even the sweetest desserts. But the trend of featuring salt in the name of the dessert and prominently in the … Continued

Happiness…Just Beyond the Bend

By Melanie Lockwood Herman I generally tuck incoming issues of the weekly publication The Economist somewhere safe to read and savor at a more convenient time. The December 18th-31st Special Holiday Double Issue however offered this middle-age reader an irresistible headline and I was compelled to read the lead story without delay. The story, titled … Continued

The Right Stuff

By Melanie Lockwood Herman The Tom Wolfe book “The Right Stuff” chronicles the lives of a group of navy test pilots as well as the early years of the U.S. Space Program during the late 1940s to mid 1960s. The film version of the book reinforces the theme that while decidedly human, these pioneers of … Continued

Out of Control

By Melanie Lockwood Herman Being “in control” feels good on a number of levels. When road conditions are optimal and the sky is clear, motoring down a country road can be a joyful experience. Inching along in bumper to bumper traffic with no apparent reason for a back up is enough to try the nerves … 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

Transitions: Make the Most of Organizational Change

By Melanie Lockwood Herman Long-time residents of the Greater Washington area become accustomed to the abrupt change in seasons. After a record-setting winter and what seemed like only a week of moderate spring weather, summer conditions have once again arrived before the calendar marks the new season. Steamy hot days interrupted by very brief storms … 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

Short, Sweet and Shallow

By Melanie Lockwood Herman The sense of frustration that overcomes me when I cannot remember something that seems vital in the moment has become a recurring, increasingly unpleasant phenomenon. Like many of my generation I instinctively blame the inability to recall information on my aging brain. I blame my inaccurate recall (e.g., “cappy hampers” instead … 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

Adapt to Thrive

By Melanie Lockwood Herman A new article on the “teenage brain” caught my attention last week while I was killing time in an airport bookstore. The feature article in this month’s National Geographic Magazine explores new research on the evolving brains of our teenage friends and family members. But contrary to previously published studies, this … Continued

Be Thankful… By Getting Ready

By Melanie Lockwood Herman Countless Americans will take time this week to pause and give “thanks”—for healthy families, for regular employment, and for a beautiful meal prepared with skill and love. During these reflective moments many of us will think about the nonprofit sector organizations that improve our lives, brighten our communities and give us … Continued

It’s a Wrap

By Melanie Lockwood Herman December is a popular month for wrapping things up and filling things in. Whether you’re wrapping up an end of the year report to stakeholders, filling a sleigh with brightly wrapped packages, or finalizing a budget spreadsheet with numbers in red and black ink, you’re probably wrapping, filling, shipping, or filing … Continued

The Opposite

By Melanie Lockwood Herman One of my favorite episodes of the sitcom Seinfeld is called “The Opposite.” In that episode, which aired in 1994, Jerry Seinfeld persuades his friend George Costanza that George’s natural instincts frequently lead him astray. George decides to take Jerry’s advice and “do the opposite of everything he would normally do.” … Continued

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 a closer look at the risks that … Continued

Embracing the Unknown

By Melanie Lockwood Herman This week I’ve been reading a wonderful book titled Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life, by Karen Armstrong. I ordered a copy for purely personal reasons, but found inside this inspiring new book several wonderful connections to sound risk management practice. In Chapter 7, titled “How Little We Know,” Armstrong reminds … Continued

Let’s Get Lost

“To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. Not to dare is to lose oneself.” – Soren Aabye Kieregaard By Melanie Lockwood Herman On Friday night I began reading a book called Crashing Through, by Robert Kurson. The book is about the life of Mike May. At the age of three, May was blinded in … Continued

Remember This

“…who we are and what we do is fundamentally a function of what we remember.” — Joshua Foer By Melanie Lockwood Herman It took a few pages (“locations” for Kindle readers) before I was fully committed to the book I’m reading this week, “Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything.” It wasn’t … Continued

Uncommon Sense

By Melanie Lockwood Herman During the past fifteen years many workshop attendees have commented that risk management is “common sense.” I’ve agreed with this assessment on countless occasions. I’ve also shared my view that moving beyond the limited view of individual experience—by tapping into the perspectives of a diverse group of stakeholders—is the best way … Continued

Safety in Numbers

By Melanie Lockwood Herman As a child I saw the “upside” and “downside” in the number three. Being one of three children increased my odds of finding a sibling compatriot for innocent fun or mischief. If one sister was unavailable, the other could likely be roped into playing Monopoly or ping pong or a scheme … 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

The Perfect Ride

By Melanie Lockwood Herman “Riding on a motorcycle can make you feel joyous, powerful, peaceful, frightened, vulnerable, and back out to happy again, perhaps in the same ten miles. It is life compressed, its own answer to the question “Why?” — Melissa Holbrook Pierson, The Perfect Vehicle: What It Is About Motorcycles. On Sunday, September … Continued

Off to the Polls!

By Melanie Lockwood Herman In less than two weeks’ time Americans will head to the polls for yet another “historic” election. Although I can’t recall any election during my lifetime that wasn’t billed as “historic,” I accept the label and look forward to standing up and being counted. I’m also looking forward to the end … 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

Confessions of a Risk-Taker

By Erin Gloeckner As an employee of the go-to organization for advice on any and everything risky, I realize that some people probably assume I’m a professional worrywart. You probably wouldn’t be surprised if I told you I constantly fret over danger, like Ben Stiller’s risk analyst character in Along Came Polly. Well here’s the … Continued

Say Something!

By Melanie Lockwood Herman As an advisor to nonprofits striving to better understand and cope with myriad risks, I spend a lot of time trying to come up with practical solutions to complex problems. As anyone who’s worked with the Center knows, we don’t offer “systems” ready-made for installation. We try to understand an organization’s … Continued

We’re All Human

By Melanie Lockwood Herman When nonprofit leaders approach the Center for advice about strengthening their risk management practices, most imagine that what they need is a new “system,” a toolkit, workshop, a list of definitive do’s and don’ts or a checklist. The Center’s resources include all of the above. But what we often discover in … Continued

That Time of Year

By Melanie Lockwood Herman It’s “that time of year.” You know what I’m talking about. It’s the time of year when it is often hard to find an empty parking spot near the door of the neighborhood fitness center. Church attendance is up and restaurant menus are offering an impressive number of “light and fit” … Continued

Award Season Is Upon Us

A SOURCE for Tools, Advice, and Training to control risks… so you can Focus on your Nonprofit’s mission.   February 9, 2011 Award Season Is Upon Us By Melanie Lockwood Herman The first quarter of a new calendar year ushers in a familiar round of award shows that disrupt network television’s customary prime time programming. … 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

Tell Me a Story

By Melanie Lockwood Herman  Simple, clearly written policies represent one way to engage in risk communication. But don’t limit your risk communication methods to written policies. In some cases the use of stories may be a better way to share why a risk issue is important, how it relates to mission-fulfillment, and what you expect … Continued

6 Tips for Making Risk Management Stick

By Melanie Lockwood Herman Is your road to a great risk management program paved with only the best of intentions? Even skilled and experienced nonprofit leaders sometimes find their risk management efforts falling victim to internal and external booby traps. Consider the following tips to avoid common planning pitfalls: Communicate freely and visibly. An essential … Continued

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 … Continued

Uncertainty is My Constant Companion

By Melanie Lockwood Herman My travels during the first half of Summer included a wonderful trip to New England. In addition to missing the oppressive heat wave in the DC area, the trip provided a perfect opportunity to ride my 1964 Norton Electra, which is garaged at the home of an experienced mechanic (I can … Continued

Mind the Gap

By Melanie Lockwood Herman Readers who have been to a “tube” station in London will instantly recognize the title of today’s essay on risk. Introduced in 1969 on the London Underground, “Mind the Gap” signs were posted to warn riders to exercise care when stepping over the varying-in-size gap that exists between the station platform … Continued

Risk Comes With the Territory! What Big Business Execs Can Learn from Values-Based Nonprofit Leaders

By Chris Croll These days we live in a hyper-networked world of “real time” and “always on” media coverage. Few provocative quotes escape notice. From the blogosphere to the business section of your local paper, it seems as if each day brings new stories about corporate executives who could benefit from spending more time discussing … Continued

8 Essential Words

By Melanie Lockwood Herman A few days ago I was reminiscing about the dinner table of my childhood with a close friend. Our conversation about language led me to recall a “word of the day” game that I played with my siblings and parents. Each evening one of the kids was expected to show up … Continued

Something Old, Something New

By Melanie Lockwood Herman In less than a month’s time I will have the honor of attending the wedding of a dear colleague. Although she is definitely a trendsetter, rather than a slave to fashion, I will not be surprised if she wears “something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue” as she glides … Continued

Risk Revolution

By Alex Ricketts As the Fourth of July approaches, I find myself reflecting on our country’s history. I can’t help but marvel at the extraordinary risks the founding fathers took when they broke ranks with the mighty British Empire. The revolutionary rebels of the 1770s faced charges of treason if they failed in their fight … Continued

Dangerous Risk Management Myths and Untruths

By Melanie Lockwood Herman Each year as the July 4th holiday approaches, fireworks stands start popping up in shopping center parking lots here in Leesburg, VA. These seasonal sales operations come and go. In our work with nonprofit sector and insurance industry leaders, we frequently encounter myths and misconceptions. While some myths come and go … Continued

It Shouldn’t Be So Complicated

By Melanie Herman I can’t help but smile when a friend or colleague recommends a favorite book. And although I’m not afraid to tackle a book that I know little about, I’m much happier opening the cover of a book that comes with a personal recommendation. During a recent trip to Orlando, a client recommended … Continued

Taking Risks on FM Radio

By Melanie Lockwood Herman Nothing makes me feel older than when my daughter changes the radio station in the car and her choice of music makes me wince. The music on her preferred “hit music” stations generally strikes me as simplistic, absurdly repetitive and in some cases, mildly offensive. But sometimes her choice is a … Continued

Risk Lessons from the Fall Classic

By Melanie Lockwood Herman Last month I was drawn to the duel between the impeccably groomed St. Louis Cardinals and the bearded Boston Red Sox. I really enjoyed watching these well-matched, and well-behaved athletes, battle it out for baseball’s big prize. One of the things I like about watching baseball is that there is always … Continued

Happy at Work

By Melanie Lockwood Herman Productive and engaged are words that come to mind when I picture a high-performing employee in a nonprofit. The literature on performance management is packed with advice about inspiring great performance among the members of a staff team. Some of the techniques I often cite in workshops include the generous sharing … Continued

Try a Little… Kindness

By Melanie Lockwood Herman Last week I wrote about the connection between managing risk and a happy workforce. Yesterday I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Christine Carter speak about “Raising Happiness at Camp” at the opening keynote session at the American Camp Association annual conference in Atlanta. Dr. Carter is a sociologist at UC … Continued

9 Truths about Black Holes and Dark Risks

By Melanie Lockwood Herman The March 2014 edition of National Geographic Magazine featured a fascinating article about black holes (“The Truth about Black Holes,” The term “black hole” is often used to describe a space where things go, but never escape. I found some of the “truths” about black holes eerily familiar. The characteristics … 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

Don’t Drink the Water: How to Avoid Risk-Taking Side Effects

By Erin Gloeckner Imagine crystal clear waves washing up on white sand beaches, lively steel pan music floating through humid air, and sweet rum punch flowing freely into your glass. For the past two weeks, I enjoyed all three delights during a heavenly vacation in serene Trinidad and Tobago, a Caribbean country comprised of two … Continued

Is Cloud Computing Risky?

By Melanie Lockwood Herman There are certain facets of nonprofit management that haven’t changed in the 25+ years I’ve been working in the nonprofit sector. As was true in the “old days,” it’s still vital to recruit qualified staff to execute the vision of the nonprofit board. And it remains true that written policies that … Continued

Some Assembly Required

By Melanie Lockwood Herman Many of us avoid buying furniture and appliances that display package warnings like “some assembly required.” We are easily demoralized knowing it could be a long time before we enjoy a new purchase. Yet when it comes to risk management, the assembly process should not discourage us. Assembly is always required … Continued

Risk Talking at Your Nonprofit

By Melanie Lockwood Herman Talking about risk is essential to fortifying your nonprofit’s reputation and mission, and providing a safe environment for the people who serve and those who rely on you for services. Yet starting a conversation about “what could go wrong” isn’t always easy to do. During a recent conversation with a client, … Continued

The Greatest Risk of All

By Melanie Lockwood Herman “I’m only human Of flesh and blood I’m made Human Born to make mistakes” – Human, The Human League, © Universal Music Publishing Group, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., EMI Music Publishing. Many leaders of leading nonprofits worry excessively about external threats: competing organizations, fickle institutional funders, increased government regulations, the unpredictable … Continued

Inspired by Risk

By Erin Gloeckner The staff members at the Nonprofit Risk Management Center find inspiration from many sources. We are moved by the ambitious missions of our consulting clients. We admire the unwavering dedication of our volunteer board. We marvel at the steadfast commitment of nonprofit leaders who embrace our tough love advice about risk management. … Continued

Stop and Think About Inherent Dangers

By Melanie Lockwood Herman Some dangers are so familiar that we don’t give them the attention they are due: distracted driving, crossing a busy street, navigating an escalator, or using a ladder. The potential danger of everyday events popped into my head on Monday as I was tumbling off said ladder. Earlier this week, I … Continued

Protecting Vulnerable Clients from Abuse

Protecting Vulnerable Clients from Abuse By Mark E. Chopko, Esq.

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

Wanted: People Willing to Talk About Risk

By Melanie Lockwood Herman “…the traditional division of authority and power is an anachronism that blights the work of public-sector employees as much as private-sector work teams and nonprofit project groups, amongst other things, encouraging the attitude that workers, like little children, should do as they’re told, not think and be seen, not heard. It … Continued

It’s Not Me, It’s You!

By Melanie Lockwood Herman One of my favorite parts of the Seinfeld episode titled “The Lip Reader,” is when Gwen tries to soften her break-up with George by saying, “It’s not you, it’s me.” George responds, “You’re giving me the ‘It’s not you, it’s me’ routine? I invented ‘It’s not you, it’s me.’ Nobody tells … Continued

Don’t Be Superstitious about Risk

By Melanie Lockwood Herman I’m a compulsive calendar checker. I no longer have a black, spiral bound desk calendar, but I consult my electronic calendar at least a dozen times throughout the workday. With the Ides of March approaching, I was reminded of the role that superstition plays in risk management. For example, during a … Continued

Volunteers: Instruments of Your Mission

By Alexandra Ricketts As a risk advisor to nonprofit organizations, I often hear leaders refer to volunteers as the heart of a charitable mission. This hopeful outlook often inspires passionate volunteer service. But the risk of discord exists when nonprofit leaders are naïve about the cost of volunteer service. Volunteer service may be unpaid, but … Continued

Playing to Win

By Melanie Lockwood Herman As a teenager I was open to just about any job that would enable me to keep the gas tank full in my Fiat 850 Spider convertible. Of course I also needed cash to fund the cost of replacement parts, which I always bought from a nearby junkyard. Half the fun … Continued

Trying My Patience

Trying My Patience “Patience is quiet hope and trust that things will turn out right. You wait without complaining. You are tolerant and accepting of difficulties and mistakes. You picture the end in the beginning and persevere to meet your goals. Patience is a commitment to the future.” –

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 volunteers. Myth 3 Organizations can’t completely control what … Continued

Myths of Volunteer Risk Management, Part 1

by Hal Denton and Fiona Lally This is the first of a six-part series on common myths about the risks of using volunteers in nonprofit organizations. We’ll look at each myth for its impact on liability assessment, the purchase of insurance, and risk management planning. Myth #1 The biggest risk associated with the utilization of … Continued

Myths of Volunteer Risk Management,‹ Part 2

by Hal Denton and Fiona Lally This is the second of a series on common myths associated with the risks of using volunteers in nonprofit organizations. We’ll look at each myth for its impact on liability assessment, the purchase of insurance, and risk management planning. Myth #2 Risk management for volunteers is primarily a question … Continued

Volunteers, Social Media and Risk

Here are a few tips for managing the risks that arise from volunteer use of social media or the use of social media to attract, support and connect volunteers. Don’t overreact — Posting a “tit for tat” response to every negative post by disgruntled volunteers may cast your nonprofit in a negative light. Stakeholders may … Continued

We All Do It: Mistakes in Nonprofit Life

By Melanie Lockwood Herman Human beings are prone to making mistakes. In his poem titled, “An Essay on Criticism,” eighteenth century English poet Alexander Pope reminds us that occasional screw ups are inevitable and rooted in our humanity. The best known line from the poem is “To err is human, to forgive divine.” If mistakes … Continued

Managing Special Event Risks

Managing Special Event Risks By Joe Risser and Melanie Lockwood Herman Note: This article is excerpted from a forthcoming publication from the Nonprofit Risk Management Center: Managing Special Event Risks: 10 Steps to Safety—2nd Edition. The book will be available for purchase in September. For more information, or to-pre-order a copy, click here. Summer is … Continued

Less Is Really More

Less Is Really More By Melanie Lockwood Herman Nonprofit execs often worry they don’t have enough handbooks, manuals, and guidelines setting forth the organizations risk management policies. This article suggests that the real worry should be that those documents are overweight and inefficient. The article suggests ways you can streamline and energize your program-policy documents. … Continued

Rock n Roll n Risk Management

By Melanie Lockwood Herman and Alexandra Ricketts A friend of the Center, who happens to be an accomplished sound engineer, forwarded a terrific article to us this week about how the best rock n’ roll roadies can do things many music fans might believe are impossible. Why? Well, one reason seems to be that roadies … Continued

A Golden Opportunity

A Golden Opportunity The age distribution of the American public is changing. Healthier lifestyles and medical innovations have increased the longevity of the American population. Our citizenry now includes not only higher percentages of senior Americans, but greater numbers of elderly members who are living well into their 80s and 90s. Unfortunately, medical technology and … 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

The Eye of the Beholder: Managing Reputation Risk

The Eye of the Beholder: Managing Reputation Risk By Melanie Lockwood Herman

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

Planning for Summer Fun

Planning for Summer Fun By Michael Gurtler The beginning of the summer swim season is just around the corner. Many pools, beaches, lakes and ponds will see high rates of use over the summer weeks. In addition, many nonprofit organizations will sponsor special summer events that involve swimming and other forms of water-inspired recreation. While … 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

Stepping Around or Stepping Up?

Stepping Around or Stepping Up? Coping with difficult risk management issues By Linda Varnado

Accountability Measures: A Closer Look at Service Statistics

Accountability Measures A Closer Look at Service Statistics By John C. Patterson In this age of increased accountability, nonprofits are subjected to increased scrutiny in financial management, outcome measurement, and new service statistics. Service Statistics Service statistics may include an organization’s membership, numbers of clients served, and hours of service delivered. Organizations have a great … Continued

Risk Management Resolutions

Risk Management Resolutions It’s Never too Late to Begin Anew By Melanie Lockwood Herman Although the first month of your New Year is history and no doubt you have already made progress on many of your annual resolutions, we’d like to suggest three really important ones from a risk management standpoint. Unlike a resolution such … Continued

New Resources Emerge from Collaboration

A recent collaboration between ChoicePoint and the Nonprofit Risk Management Center has led to the creation of a Risk Management ToolKit for customers of ChoicePoint’s state of the art background checking services. As part of the company’s continuing efforts to help nonprofits effectively manage risk, ChoicePoint has launched a new Web site and toolkit. The … Continued

New Year, New List Five Risk Management Resolutions for Your Nonprofit

New Year, New List Five Risk Management Resolutions for Your Nonprofit By Melanie Lockwood Herman During a recent airline trip I opened the in-flight magazine and saw an ad for an expensive piece of exercise equipment that promised an effective cardiovascular workout with only four minutes of effort. The longer I stared at the photo … Continued

Culture Shock: Embracing Risk Management is Necessary, But Never Easy

Culture Shock: Embracing Risk Management May Not Be Easy by Melanie Lockwood Herman This article was inspired by the writings of Diana Del Bel Belluz, M.A.Sc., P.Eng., President of Risk Wise Inc., a Toronto-based risk management consulting firm. To read Diana’s inspirational eZine, visit “We can rebuild him. We have the technology.” Some readers … Continued

Managing Risk in Turbulent Times

Managing Risk in Turbulent Times Mix equal measures of optimism and resolve and bake until golden By Melanie Lockwood Herman I’ve been told that I am an incurable optimist. No matter where I stand or sit, I can’t help thinking that tomorrow is a fount of wonderful possibilities. I’ll admit that there have been a few … Continued

Reality TV and Risk Management

Reality TV and Risk Management By Melanie Lockwood Herman This article first appeared in riskVue, the Webzine for risk management professionals. For more information, visit When the first generation of reality TV programs debuted in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I was appalled. The ratings for programs like COPS (1989) and MTV’s The Real … Continued

Putting on Your Own Mask First

Putting on Your Own Mask First When the Abstract and Reality Collide By Melanie Lockwood Herman

Let’s Get Entrepreneurial

Most would agree that both “initiative” and “risk-taking” are key to success in an increasingly competitive, fast-paced and high-tech nonprofit sector. But what tools and resources are available to ensure that awareness of both upside and downside risk undergirds the commitment to being entrepreneurial? The Board The mission of a nonprofit starts and ends with … Continued

Happy Endings

By Melanie Lockwood Herman As another calendar year draws to a close, the subject of “endings” comes to mind. Every day across the U.S., nonprofit leaders experience endings of one kind or another. The departure of a long-time employee, the retirement of a board member, and the decision of a small commercial vendor to narrow … Continued

How to be the Worlds Smartest Risk Manager

How to be the World’s Smartest Risk Manager By Melanie Lockwood Herman I’ve just finished the National Geographic book, “How to Be the World’s Smartest Traveler.” Who doesn’t want to be the world’s “smartest” anything?! As a big fan of the expression, “don’t believe everything you read,” I had no expectation of becoming the world’s … Continued

Developing Risk Management Policies for Your Volunteer Program

There is no single way or ideal approach to managing the risks that arise from volunteer service. In No Surprises: Harmonizing Risk and Reward in Volunteer Management, the Nonprofit Risk Management Center explores various facets of risk associated with volunteer programs and organizations. This popular book, now offered as a 5th edition, outlines practical ways … Continued

Staff Training: Neglected Element of the Risk Management Equation

Staff Training Neglected Element of the Risk Management Equation By Melanie Lockwood Herman Nonprofit leaders are quick to rank staff training as an important goal in the workplace. During discussions with funders and other external stakeholders many managers tout the commitment of their organizations to provide inservice training to paid and volunteer personnel. Yet the … Continued

Election Year Risks

Election Year Risks Avoid these Campaign Pitfalls Most nonprofit managers are aware that a charity may not directly campaign for, or against, a candidate for public office. The penalty is severe — loss of tax-exempt status. However, there is often confusion about related activity, and whether it is improper — or permissible — under IRS … Continued

Have You Renewed Your Nonprofit’s Corporate Status?

Have You Renewed Your Nonprofit’s Corporate Status? Most states require nonprofit corporations to file an annual report with the state in order to maintain the nonprofit corporation’s good standing in that state. If you fail to submit the annual report, the state is unlikely to remind you. Instead, you may discover down the road that … Continued

How to Bring the Power of Intuition to the Discipline of Risk Management

How to Bring the Power of Intuition to the Discipline of Risk Management By Melanie Lockwood Herman set of “steps,” or a series of mathematical calculations. Austen writes: “Conventional wisdom tells us that the road to progress is paved with systematic steps toward measurable goals and reward.” She contrasts a conventional approach with the approach … Continued