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The Dark Side of Leadership

By Melanie Lockwood Herman and Emily Wilson “Sadly, the nonprofit sector is not immune from the harm that destructive leaders leave in their wakes. Destructive leaders are those whose actions cause catastrophic effects on everything from staff morale to workplace safety.” Few nonprofits can thrive or even survive without strong leadership. Yet what happens when … Continued

Clash of the Nonprofit Titans: Managing Board and CEO Conflicts

By Emily Wilson and Melanie Lockwood Herman Passion and conflict go hand in hand. As heartfelt passion for an organization’s mission is often the selling point that entices people to look for paid and volunteer roles at a nonprofit, it is not surprising that this passion leaves few nonprofit workplaces without conflict. Fortunately for the … Continued

The Goldilocks Principle: Creating a Culture That’s Just Right

By Melanie Lockwood Herman and Alexandra Ricketts One of your best employees just left the organization and you feel a sense of urgency to replace her. But is it simply time to fill the open chair with a warm body? If your expectations for performance are low, then almost any applicant will do. But if … Continued

How to Hire the Staff Your Mission Deserves

By Melanie Lockwood Herman and Arley Turner As the economy continues to rebound from the recent recession, hiring—not downsizing—is the name of the game in nonprofit HR. For leaders that have been in the difficult position of managing layoffs and coping with increased work demands due to vacancies, the availability of funds for new personnel … Continued

There’s No Mystery to Your History: Using Background Checks in the Screening Process

Winter, 2015 By Melanie Lockwood Herman “ Many organizations fall prey to the misconception that criminal history background checks are the only effective way to prevent the hiring of an unsuitable employee. ” Most nonprofits use some type of background check to vet potential employees and volunteers. However, the term “background check” is used to … Continued

Hitting the Nail on the Head: Prioritizing Safety at Your Nonprofit

By Emily Stumhofer Countless Center consulting clients and Affiliate Members list safety “Safety incidents at a nonprofit can result in the loss of life or permanent injury, plummeting employee morale, reputational damage, insurance claims and costly financial and human resource burdens for the nonprofit.” risks at the top of their concerns. Yet some organizations—especially those … Continued

Lend a Helping Handbook: Employment Policies Worthy of Your Mission

Winter, 2015 By Erin Gloeckner On the first day at a new job, most of us probably arrive wondering things like, “What will it be like to work here?” “What will my role entail?” and “How will I learn everything I need to know in order to do my job?” Whether you are a new … Continued

Fact Sheet – Active Shooters

December, 2015 KEY CONSIDERATIONS AND APPROACHES More than 160 active shootings were documented in the U.S. from 2000 to 2013 and the number of events escalates each year. The agreed-upon definition of an active shooter by U.S. government agencies‹including the White House, U.S. Department of Justice/FBI, U.S. Department of Education, and U.S. Department of Homeland … Continued

Four Quick Tips to Understand Commercial Insurance Policies

1. Take Advantage of Electronic Formats — Many insurance companies now issue policies in an electronic format with headings that can be clicked on to zero in on a particular policy section or particular endorsement. This makes it much easier to navigate and review the policy. 2. Seek Assistance from Your Agent — Regardless how … Continued

Contemplating Coverage: Insurance for Nonprofits

By Melanie Lockwood Herman and Erin Gloeckner Are you suddenly responsible for buying insurance for your nonprofit? Or perhaps you have been responsible for some time but have just realized that there are a few gaps in your understanding of what you buy, why you buy it and how to evaluate providers, products and the … Continued

How to Read an Insurance Policy

By Emily Stumhofer Reading a commercial insurance policy is not an intuitive practice and most people find insurance policies difficult to comprehend. Unlike a good book, it is not a document you can curl up with and casually read from beginning to end. Policies are known for being confusing and complicated, and sections frequently cross-reference … 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

Waivers and Young Participants

By Melanie Lockwood Herman Except in very rare instances*, a contract signed by a minor** is voidable by the minor until he or she reaches the age of majority. A “voidable” contract is legally binding on both parties unless the minor chooses to void the contract, at which time it will no longer be enforced. … Continued

Travel Safe: Managing the Legal Risks that Arise from International Operations

by Jefferson C. Glassie, Esq., FASAE, and partner Whiteford, Taylor & Preston, LLP Nonprofit organizations are becoming increasingly active in global activities, which are very complex because of cultural, linguistic, operational, and risk issues. Adding to the complexity are legal issues. When does United States law apply, and when does the law of the local … Continued

Data Privacy and Cyber Liability: What You Don’t Know Puts Your Mission at Risk

By Erin Gloeckner and Melanie Lockwood Herman If you were a long-time donor to a nonprofit, and just learned that your credit card details provided to the nonprofit to make a donation are now in the hands of a hacker, would you ever trust that organization again? In an article about nonprofits and sensitive data … Continued

Liability and the Board: What Governing Teams Need to Know

By Melanie Lockwood Herman With more than 1.5 million registered, tax-exempt organizations in the U.S., it’s likely that many times that number of Americans currently serve on nonprofit boards. Board service involves a commitment of time, attention, enthusiasm, and in many cases, a personal financial contribution. When you serve on a board you’re likely to … 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

The Nitty Gritty of a Risk Committee

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 … 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

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

We Are the Champions, My Friends: Risk Champion Q&A By Erin Gloeckner This special issue of Risk Management Essentials is devoted to sharing the message that risk management is a team sport. A team approach encourages the embedding of risk management practices throughout your organization. Still, it helps to have an experienced risk management thought … Continued

Think Again: What You Don’t Know but Should About Interviewing & Reference Checking

By Erin Gloeckner “Death will be a great relief. No more interviews.” — Katharine Hepburn Walking into an interview is like walking into a pressure-cooker. As an applicant, you sense that the interview is your best chance at winning a job. Most nonprofit hiring teams would agree that an interview would make or break a … Continued

How Lifestyle Figures in an Appropriate Mentor Match

By John C. Patterson There is a fine line between gathering the necessary information for making the appropriate match and infringing on the privacy of all parties involved. Yet, the parents’ right to set limits on who they feel is an acceptable match for their child requires information about the lifestyle of the mentor matched … Continued

Play by the Rules or Leave

Violence cannot build a better society. Disruption and disorder nourish repression, not justice. They strike at the freedom of every citizen. The community cannot‹it will not‹tolerate coercion and mob rule. — Commission on Civil Disorder, 1968 Violence pervades the lives of America’s youth… Surveys document that today’s youth are aware of violence and feel less … Continued

Take Children Safely Out to the Ballgame

Organized sports and recreation can improve physical fitness, coordination, self-discipline and teamwork, but these beneficial activities put participants at risk for injury unless precautions are in place. Half of organized sports-related injuries are preventable, reports the National SAFEKIDS Campaign. It’s a matter of protecting bodies while they are still growing and developing motor and cognitive … Continued

Preventing False Accusations of Child Sexual Abuse

Recently there was a story in The Washington Post about a Montgomery County, MD schoolteacher who had been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior by seven sixth grade students. The teacher was immediately suspended and his life was turned upside down. Upon closer investigation, it was revealed that one of the students, upset over being disciplined, … Continued

Child Pornography: Not Our Problem?

By John Patterson, Senior Program Director Recently, we learned of several youth-serving organizations that had employees or volunteers charged with Internet crimes against children. The most common crime was possession or distribution of child pornography. Most often the incriminating evidence was found on the personal computers of the individuals charged. Some cases had images of … Continued

The Best of Times, the Worst of Times

Risk Management Strategies for Nonprofits Serving Young Adolescents If youth is the season of hope, it’s often so only in the sense that our elders are hopeful about us; for no age is so apt as youth to think its emotions, partings, and resolves are the last of their kind.  Each crisis seems final, simply … Continued

Perspectives on Gangs and Gang Violence

The stereotypical media image for youth gangs is only partially accurate. According to the Justice Department, a gang is a well defined group of youths between 10 and 22 years old.” To be considered a “youth gang” a group must be involved in a pattern of criminal acts. The criminal acts, especially acts of violence, … Continued

Zero Tolerance for Workplace Violence

Key Component of Workplace Safety Workplace safety is one of those better-safe-than-sorry areas of management where prevention is critical. Although an organization’s hiring and supervision policies appear to preclude violent behavior in the workplace, early intervention helps prevent more serious acts. Instituting a zero tolerance for workplace violence policy sends a clear message to all … Continued

Preventing Crime on Your Premises

Preventing Crime on Your Premises Imagine the shock of discovering that one of your employees, volunteers, or service recipients has been the victim of a crime. Now, imagine the even worse shock of discovering that the crime was committed on your organization’s property, and that you could have prevented it. Such incidents can devastate the … Continued

Workplace Safety Preserves and Protects

By Barbara B. Oliver and Jennifer Chandler Hauge Workplace safety is about preventing injury and illness to employees and volunteers in the workplace. Thus, it’s about protecting the nonprofit’s most valuable asset: its staff members. By protecting the staff’s well-being, you can reduce the amount of money paid out in health insurance benefits, workers’ compensation … Continued

Tempting But Confusing and Dangerous: Paying Volunteers Just a Little Something

by George L. Head, Ph.D. A thoughtful, appreciative board or executive director may want to pay a nonprofit’s volunteers “just a little something” beyond reimbursing individual volunteers for their expenditures on the organization’s behalf. Some nonprofits rationalize a monetary gift as a demonstration of thanks for the loyalty volunteers have shown to the organization: “Buy … 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

Keeping Volunteers Safe From Harm: Street Smarts for Unfamiliar Turf

By Barbara B. Oliver Volunteer safety takes many forms in a community-serving nonprofit. From a thorough orientation program to “on-the-job” training, careful supervision and incident follow-up, nonprofits have various opportunities to help their volunteers stay safe. Start at the Beginning Don’t assume that you know what your volunteers are worried about or afraid of. Ask … Continued

Top 10 Fundraising Risks for Nonprofits

By Melanie Lockwood Herman The words “fundraising” and “risk management” are rarely used in the same sentence. One reason the topic of “fundraising risk” is infrequently discussed by nonprofit decision-makers may be because responsibility for “fundraising” is often assigned to the development team, while “risk management” is led by the finance department or client services … Continued

Love that Web Site… but not the links to information about political candidates

Here’s a REMINDER to all public charities and churches: A link to a political candidate’s web site from a nonprofit’s web site may violate federal law. IRS regulations allow 501(c)(3) nonprofits to engage in limited “voter education” activities, such as preparing or distributing non-partisan voter guides. However, public charities and churches may not voice either … Continued

Risk Management Resolutions

Risk Management Resolutions Easier than a diet; good for the health of your nonprofit By Melanie Lockwood Herman Were you one of thousands of Americans who received a gym membership gift tucked neatly in a card from a loved one? Each year, millions of Americans jot down resolutions, most of which have something to do … 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

Personal Devices at Work

by Erin Gloeckner Employee-owned versus organization-owned… the battle wages on. As employees, many of us prefer to use personal phones and laptops for work because they are convenient, commonsense, and a lot cooler than what the IT department provides. Nonprofits know there is no way to prevent all employees from accessing personal phones at work, … Continued

People — Your Most Pivotal Resource

By George L. Head, Ph.D. Three large groups of people are essential to your nonprofit’s success in pursuing its mission: Your staff (including your officers, employees, and volunteers) who jointly perform all the planning, speaking, driving, carrying, cooking, cleaning, negotiating, decision-making, and all the other activities that we tend somewhat loosely to say your nonprofit … Continued

“Let’s Work Together” – The Sweet Sounds of a Board-CEO Partnership

by Melanie Lockwood Herman and Erin Gloeckner   On paper nonprofit boards and CEOs are required to work together. Typical CEO position descriptions include items such as: Keeping the board apprised of issues impacting the nonprofit’s mission and necessary to govern, Reporting to the board at regular meetings and other times as necessary, Executing contracts … Continued

Tell Me About It: Communicating With Key Constituencies During a Lawsuit

The article below is excerpted from a new publication available from the Nonprofit Risk Management Center, The Best Defense: 10 Steps to Surviving a Lawsuit. The article addresses the topic covered in Step 6: Communicate with Constituencies. Receiving notice of a lawsuit can be terribly upsetting. Your first inclination may be to start talking with … Continued

Insurance for Cyber Risks

by Melanie Lockwood Herman Today’s nonprofit leaders are aware that dependence on data, software, systems and tech vendors brings untold benefits as well as potential downside risks. From the impact of data loss to claims alleging the failure to safeguard personal information, a nonprofit’s reputation and resources are ‘on the line’ in the online age. … Continued

Insurance for Volunteer Programs

The following article is excerpted from Chapter 9 of No Surprises: Harmonizing Risk & Reward in Volunteer Management, 3rd Edition. Claims Against the Volunteer Fear of incurring personal liability for volunteer service isn’t uncommon among the estimated 90 million Americans who perform volunteer service each year. Volunteer board members may be targeted in suits alleging … Continued

Who Can Sue a Nonprofit Board?

One of the myths associated with nonprofit D&O exposures is that there are few sources of claims since nonprofits don’t have shareholders. While it is true that the vast majority of lawsuits filed against nonprofit boards are filed by current and former employees (alleging wrongful employment practices), nonprofits serve large and varied constituencies to which … Continued

Abuse Coverage Isn’t as Elusive as a Needle in a Haystack, but It Will Cost You

By Melanie Lockwood Herman Hard market conditions cause nonprofit managers to lose sleep and patience after receiving “nonrenewal” letters, notice of changes in the terms and conditions of coverage, and notification from weary brokers and agents explaining that the same or less coverage purchased in the past will cost 10 percent or more than last … Continued

Do You Need a New Broker? Here’s Your Sign!

By Melanie Lockwood Herman This article first appeared in riskVue, the Webzine for risk management professionals, and is reprinted with permission. In 1997 Comedian Bill Engvall released the best-selling comedy album of the year, a work that introduced millions of Americans to the comedian’s favorite punch line: “Here’s Your Sign.” A classic “Here’s Your Sign” … Continued

Is a BOP Right for Me?

Most nonprofit organizations struggle with their insurance program. What policies, coverages, limits and deductibles should we buy? How much will it cost? Are we protecting our assets and people adequately? With incorrect choices you can be insurance rich but coverage poor; therefore, you always want the best coverage for the right premium. Everyone needs property … 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

Risk Management for Rental Properties

How Landlords Can Protect Themselves Legally When Renting Their Land to Outside Groups by Stanley P. Wellman, Esq. and Stephanie P. Karn, Esq. Most property owners and landlords appreciate fully the risks and potential liabilities that can occur when they operate campgrounds, conference centers, and other facilities open to the public on their property. These … Continued

Facilities Risk Management: Understanding Leasing Exposures

Q: Our nonprofit leases space from other entities for our office and occasional special events. What exposures do we have because of this? A: Leasing relieves you from some obligations and exposures with regards to repair, maintenance and compliance with regulations, however, it’s important to know that you still have facility exposures. Your nonprofit may … Continued

Enforcing Board Member Responsibilities

By Melanie Lockwood Herman It’s impossible to be too grateful to a member of a nonprofit board. Volunteer board members donate countless hours to the causes and organizations they love. And many of the tasks for which the board’s attention is required seem distant from the compelling mission at the heart of the organization. Yet … Continued

Creating an Effective Employee Handbook for Your Nonprofit

Employers often use handbooks and manuals to inform employees of their employment policies and to enforce their at-will policies. Although no express employment contract exists, courts have held that handbooks and manuals can be implied contracts if the language creates an impression that employees can only be dismissed for cause. The employee must be aware … Continued

Whistleblower Protections in the Nonprofit Sector

By Jason M. Zuckerman Since the enactment of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX), publicly traded companies have begun to focus on protecting whistleblowers and providing mechanisms for employees to raise concerns. This results from numerous provisions in SOX that mandate whistleblower protection, a high number of SOX whistleblower-retaliation complaints filed with the U.S. Department … Continued

A Blueprint for Facility Risk Management

By Eric Henkel Nonprofits own and operate many different kinds of facilities. Although in other business functions, risk may be less visible or apparent, the facilities we occupy are under our feet and above our heads every day. From warehouses to recreational spaces to commercial kitchens and traditional office space, the facilities that nonprofits occupy … Continued

Safe and Secure: Supporting International Staff

By Eric Henkel The safety and well being of employees is generally a top-of-mind concern for nonprofit leaders. When an organization deploys its staff internationally, additional uncertainty enters the already complex risk landscape. Deployed staff members may work in limited resource environments or in conditions of cultural and political instability. Issues that might seem routine … Continued

We Are the World: International Staff Screening

By Melanie Lockwood Herman The world gets very small after a while, if you stick around long enough. – Edie Falco Your goal of recruiting capable staff members who bring different perspectives and diverse backgrounds to your mission may lead you to  seek and consider applicants who have worked, lived, or even studied in a … Continued

Checking Criminal Histories: Considerations Before You Begin

Every nonprofit organization is responsible for taking reasonable measures to protect service recipients from harm. This responsibility extends to all facets of a nonprofit’s interactions with its clientele. While not a panacea, careful screening of the paid and volunteer staff who work with vulnerable populations is an important risk management strategy. The failure to adequately … Continued

Grievance Procedures and Internal Dispute Resolution

Practical Tips for Resolving Internal Disputes Peaceably The following text is excerpted from Section 3 of NRMC’s book: Taking the High Road: A Guide to Effective and Legal Employment Practices for Nonprofits. Having an internal mechanism for resolving disputes is like wearing a seat belt — the internal restraint can help a nonprofit avoid harm … Continued

Employee or Volunteer: What’s the Difference?

By Melanie Lockwood Herman Nonprofit organizations frequently depend on the service and commitment of volunteers as well as the labor of employees. The skills and talents of both types of workers bring nonprofit missions to life. At first glance, the simple difference between these two types of workers is that employees get paid and volunteers … Continued

Dysfunctional Characters Often Sit at the Board Table

By Eileen Morgan Johnson The character types described below are from “20 Dysfunctional Board Member Character Types,” by Eileen Johnson, Whiteford, Taylor & Preston, LLP. Reprinted with permission from the author. Board Chairs Dictator — The Chair as Dictator does not believe in seeking advice or input from fellow board members, staff or consultants because … Continued

Partner with Care and a Prenuptial Agreement

By Melanie Lockwood Herman Throughout the year, countless brides and bridegrooms come join together, happily anticipating a lifetime of wedded bliss. Many nonprofits engage outside consultants and vendors in the hope that these “unions” will enable the nonprofit to achieve some aspect of its mission. In some cases outside help is retained to meet the … Continued

Good Governance Is Sound Risk Management

By Jennifer Chandler Hauge Governance has been top-of-mind at the Nonprofit Risk Management Center of late. In Washington, DC, we’ve watched the governing board of “our nation’s museum,” the Smithsonian, re-organize its board, hold the CEO more accountable, and re-think the museum’s business strategies. This instance is one in a long line of headline-grabbing missteps … Continued

Background Checks, Screening and Your Nonprofit

Melanie Lockwood Herman The term “background check” means different things to different people. Some nonprofit leaders use the term loosely to refer to a variety of screening tools, such as criminal history background checks, credit checks, reference checks, or the verification of prior employment and higher education. One former client initially told me that her … Continued

A Violation of Trust: Fraud Risk in Nonprofit Organizations

By Jonathan T. Marks, CPA, CFF, CITP, CFE, and Pete A. Ugo, CPA The risk of fraud is a serious concern for all types of enterprises, but fraud can be particularly damaging to a nonprofit organization, for which a damaged reputation can have devastating consequences. The Costs of Fraud in Nonprofit Organizations According to the … Continued

Avoid Transition Trauma with a CEO Succession Plan

by Melanie Lockwood Herman and Erin Gloeckner CEO succession planning can be a touchy subject. Members of a nonprofit board may fear the risk of insulting a CEO by suggesting the topic as an agenda item. Some CEOs may feel disinclined to raise the subject because it could send mixed signals about their intent to … Continued

Risk on the Road: Managing Volunteer Driver Exposures

Many nonprofits rely on volunteer drivers to help fulfill their programs and services. Whether the drivers are taking seniors to medical appointments or bringing meals or library books to those unable to leave their homes, opportunities abound for volunteers to fill a much-needed gap in transportation services in our communities. Nonprofit leaders are often concerned … Continued

Avoid Distracted Driving: Don’t Get Teary & Put Down Siri

Whether it is sending a quick text or recalling a very emotional memory or event, distracted driving is incredibly commonplace on roads throughout the United States and abroad. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes three primary varieties of distraction: visual—taking your eyes off the road manual—taking your hands off the wheel cognitive—taking … Continued

Cyberbullying & Cyber Threats to Young People

By Lexie Williams In August of 2009, a nonprofit college preparatory day school in Los Angeles was sued for $100 million dollars by a student’s parents following a case of on-site cyberbullying. The incident occurred when nine students accessed another student’s personal website from school computers and left death threats. The lawsuit alleged negligence committed … Continued

Vital Partners in Youth Protection: Engaging Parents and Caregivers

By Emily Stumhofer You’ve seen it in the news or heard about it through the neighborhood gossip chain, but you hope you’ll never hear the same news again: an appalling allegation of child abuse is uncovered at a trusted nonprofit. Almost anyone would feel repulsed, devastated, or enraged at such news, but perhaps the news … Continued

Key Principles in Youth Protection: Considerations and Action Steps

 NOTE: This article includes excerpts from Chapter 6 of the Nonprofit Risk Management Center’s book, EXPOSED: A Legal Field Guide for Nonprofit Executives-2nd Edition. The Center is deeply grateful to Mark E. Chopko for his valuable contributions to this article and EXPOSED. Nonprofit leaders often seek ‘best practices’ or standards for excellence for which to … 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

Emergency Evacuation Strategies

Fires, explosions, chemical releases, violence or biological releases pose a threat to everyone in your organization’s facilities. One way to ensure the safety of all affected populations and reduce the risk to your organization is to have an evacuation plan. The beauty of this strategy is that even the smallest organization operating with meager resources … Continued

Crisis Management Essentials

Every nonprofit would be well-served to spend time planning how it will cope with a crisis. The crisis management plan for your nonprofit will detail how you will deliver your organization’s programs despite adverse conditions. The strategies should encompass events such as fires, explosions, power outages, natural disasters, theft, embezzlement or the death of the … Continued

Communicating During a Crisis

Headline news. Something you may dream of having — when it showcases your public entity, company or nonprofit organization and your products and services in a positive light. Unfortunately, the news media thrive on tragedy, drama and scandal — not the good news. Crisis in the nonprofit sector feeds the frenzy, because the organizations are … Continued

Vetting Partner Organizations & Drafting MOUs

It takes more than a handshake between friends, neighbors or colleagues to ensure that collaboration will succeed. If your want to feel as good about your partners, the results and yourself coming out as going in to a joint project, fully consider the ethical and risk management implications before entering into the agreement. If you … Continued

Bomb Threat or Threatening Call Checklist

The danger of a possible fire or bombing is too great to ignore. All phone calls threatening bombs, arson, death or bodily injury should be treated as real expressions of the caller’s intention to inflict injury or damage. In the case of a letter bomb, the U.S. Postal Service and several other sources, advise training … Continued

Crisis or Hoax? Responding to Hoaxes

One person’s practical joke may be viewed by others as lack of vision, poor judgment or malicious intent. How do your staff members know the difference? If you’re making the assumption that everyone innately knows, you may find you’re doing more than “Making an a_ _ of you and me,” as the saying goes. At … Continued

On a Smaller Scale: Adapting Crisis Management Principles for Small Nonprofits

Crisis prevention is doubly important for small public entities, companies and nonprofit organizations. Small organizations often have fewer resources to draw on when a crisis erupts, and insurance and other risk financing tools may not be an available due to the organization’s meager financial resources. But every organization, from the smallest to the largest can … Continued

Coping With Crisis: Managing Employee Fear and Low Morale

In the weeks and months following a major disaster or traumatic event, employers in government entities and nonprofit organizations discover unprecedented levels of fear and concern on the part of staff. The evidence manifests itself in many ways. People with perfect attendance records call in sick at record levels, seriously impairing the organization’s ability to … Continued

Handling Suspicious Packages and Letters

Mailroom security, an area often overlooked as policies and procedures are created or updated to reduce risks and losses, has risen in importance following the biological scares in late 2001. Small government entities or nonprofit organizations are especially vulnerable because many don’t have a centralized mailroom or designate a single person to receive and distribute … Continued

Screening Prospective Staff is Sound Risk Management

Know whom you are hiring up front to save yourself wasted resources down the line. Lawsuits, grievances, loss of productivity, and low staff morale are all some of the possible side effects of a bad hire. And a significant number of crises affecting nonprofit organizations involve employees who should never have been hired in the … Continued

Youth Program Sample Code of Conduct

S A M P L E This form may be adapted to use with preteen or teenage participants in your program. You may wish to make the language less formal or the vocabulary less sophisticated, depending on the developmental stage of the young people in your programs. You might also wish to add or subtract … Continued

Before You Hit the Road: Stepping Stones of Driver Safety

The leading cause of work-related death is motor vehicle collisions, therefore making the most dangerous part of your volunteers’ and employees’ workday the time spent on the road on behalf of your nonprofit. If your organization routinely (or even occasionally) has employees or volunteers drive any type of motorized vehicles as part of their job, … 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

Safety is Not a Luxury: Understanding the Risks of Passenger Vans

Large passenger vans, especially those that seat fifteen people, are a popular method of transportation for many nonprofits because they are size-efficient and cost-effective. Church groups, youth sports teams, student groups, and summer camps and other seasonal activity organizers often utilize these vans, and so do other organizations that need to move groups of clients, … 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

Senior Volunteers: A Priceless Resource

Note: This article is excerpted from the Nonprofit Risk Management Center’s book, No Surprises: Harmonizing Risk and Reward in Volunteer Management—5th Edition. Seniors are participating as volunteers for nonprofit organizations in record numbers. Participants include Senior Corps, the federally-funded national “network of programs that tap the experience, skills, and talents of older citizens to meet … Continued

We Can Work It Out: Managing Workplace Disputes

By Melanie Lockwood Herman Few things are more frustrating in the workplace than feeling unheard, especially when it comes to sensitive matters such as interpersonal workplace conflicts. And according to a survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management, “respectful treatment of all employees at all levels” is the number one contributor to overall … 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

Accountability Measures: A Closer Look at Service Statistics

Accountability Measures A Closer Look at Service Statistics By John C. Patterson, Senior Program Director 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 … Continued

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

Achieving Fiscal Fitness

Achieving Fiscal Fitness By John Gillespie This year could be a make–or break–year for nonprofits of all sizes. Whether this is the year your organization plans to expand or transitions from treading water to gaining strength, it is imperative to take the time to assess your internal staff and procedures as well as conduct a … Continued

Always on the Record: Crisis Management, the Media and Your Nonprofit

Always on the Record: Crisis Management, the Media and Your Nonprofit There’s no time like the present to begin making a list of “New Year’s Resolutions” for your nonprofit. The good news is that you don’t need to actually start tackling the “to do” items until after you’ve flipped your wall calendar to 2003. One … Continued

Avian Flu Precautions

Avian Flu Precautions By Barbara B. Oliver A recent made-for-TV movie has given rise to questions from caring nonprofit leaders about what they should do to prepare for a potential avian flu pandemic. The answer is to step back from the fear the word “pandemic” engenders and look at three critical risk management issues: 1) … Continued

Be Proactive in Times of Crisis

Be Proactive in Times of Crisis The unexpected happens. Even with insightful planning and sound risk management—people are injured, fires destroy, and investments evaporate. When “stuff happens,” savvy nonprofits know that action is needed and that action has to be communicated to stakeholders. Speaking recently about the challenges posed by the economy, Rebecca Rimel, President … Continued

Better Knowledge Enhances the Insurance-Purchasing Decision

Better Knowledge Enhances the Insurance-Purchasing Decision What Nonprofits Can Learn from Recent Headlines By Melanie Lockwood Herman and George L. Head, Ph.D.

Big Bucks or Big To Do About Nothing: CEO Compensation in the Spotlight

Big Bucks or Big “To Do” About Nothing: CEO Compensation in the Spotlight by Melanie Lockwood Herman Published stories about salaries paid to nonprofit CEOs often include scathing comments from individuals who take offense at what they regard as too-rich pay for charity leaders. And it’s not only donors, journalists and casual onlookers who take … Continued

Blogs Are Here to Stay

Blogs Are Here to Stay It’s time to update your policies By Jennifer Chandler Hauge Attendees at the 2007 Summit for the Nonprofit Sector in Winston-Salem heard a lot about the Internet and cyber-safety from plenary session speaker and national syndicated columnist Larry Magid as well as the Center’s executive director, Melanie Herman. Both speakers … Continued

Broken Promises, Shattered Trust

Broken Promises, Shattered Trust Preventing and Responding to Fraud and Misuse of Assets in a Nonprofit Organization by Melanie Lockwood Herman Michael McNee, Principal in the Metro New York Higher Education/Not-for-Profit Practice of Arthur Andersen, LLP was the final speaker at the recent fraud workshop. During his presentation, McNee shared insights from a career that … Continued

Calculated Risk: Fear of Excellence

Calculated Risk: Journey of a Lifetime by Dennis M. Kirschbaum, ARM Think globalization is a new concept? Think again. This summer my journey of a thousand miles began with a single step — on to a Washington, D.C. metro train. Every year the Smithsonian Institution sponsors its Folklife Festival, which brings together three different cultures … Continued

Calculated Risk: Good Surprise, Bad Surprise: The Law of Unintended Consequences

Calculated Risk: Good Surprise, Bad Surprise: The Law of Unintended Consequences by Dennis M. Kirschbaum, ARM When my son was just learning how to run, he often took a tumble. Occasionally, he would fall down a bit hard and though he wasn’t really hurt, the shock and the injustice of the accident would bring him … Continued

Calculated Risk: Journey of a Lifetime

Calculated Risk: Fear of Excellence by Dennis M. Kirschbaum, ARM Feeling inadequate? Dreaming of doing something with your life? Want to make a difference? Get real! Here is a work of miniscule proportions that will lower the bar — again! Do you strive for perfection? Do you spend countless hours doing and redoing just to … Continued

Calculated Risk: Left Behind

Calculated Risk: Left Behind by Dennis M. Kirschbaum, ARM Late last summer they took down a giant oak near the center of my small town, located about 25 miles from the nation’s capital. Aerial photos of the area show Washington Grove, Maryland as a tiny green enclave in a sea of raw suburban sprawl. Nicknamed … Continued

Calculated Risk: Rocket Man

Calculated Risk: Three Foundations by Dennis M. Kirschbaum, ARM My grandfather died in April at the age of 96. It came as somewhat of a shock for my family. Thanks to good genes and better luck, members of my family usually live a long time. My grandfather’s older sister is still going strong at 100. … 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

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: 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

Charitable Registration: Resolve to Comply

Charitable Registration: Resolve to Comply By Don Kramer Charities soliciting charitable contributions to further their mission can be tripped up significantly if they don’t pay attention to the requirements for charitable solicitation registration. Thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia require charities, unless exempt or excluded, to register before asking residents of their jurisdictions for … Continued

Code of Conduct Sample

S A M P L E This form may be adapted to use with preteen or teenage participants in your program. You may wish to make the language less formal or the vocabulary less sophisticated, depending on the developmental stage of the young people in your programs. You might also wish to add or subtract … 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 www.riskwise.net. “We can rebuild him. We have the technology.” Some readers … Continued

Defining Disability

Defining Disability Supreme Court Offers Additional Insight in Recent Cases by Barbara Raimondo, JD Recently the U.S. Supreme Court handed down three decisions which narrow the definition of who is a qualified individual with a disability for purposes of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The rulings provide that if an individual is able to … Continued

ADA

Developing Risk Management Policies for Your Volunteer Program

Developing Risk Management Policies for Your Volunteer Program

Don’t Be Ensnared by the Risks of Fundraising

Don’t Be Ensnared by the Risks of Fundraising New Book Sheds Light on Fundraising and Collaboration Risks The Nonprofit Risk Management Center has published a new text on the emerging topic of fundraising risks: No Strings Attached: Untangling the Risks of Fundraising & Collaboration. An excerpt from Chapter 4: Individual Donors: Roping ‘Em In appears … Continued

Drive Safely: Transporting Participants Without Incident

Drive Safely Transporting Participants Without Incident According to the National Association of Fleet Administrators, 20 percent of fleet drivers will be involved in a vehicle accident annually, at an astounding price tag of $18 billion to U.S. employers. Certain types of accidents — such as when a van flips over — seem to occur with … Continued

EEOC Resources Offer Valuable Help

By Jennifer Chandler Hauge, Esq. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the enforcement body that will challenge an employer’s hiring or employment practices when a discrimination complaint is lodged by an employee, a former employee or an applicant. However, the EEOC is also in the business of helping employers avoid acting in a discriminatory … 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

Emergency Succession Planning: A New Risk Management To Do

Emergency Succession Planning: A New Risk Management To Do” That perspective is being changed by the Washington, DC-based Center for Nonprofit Advancement. CNA has taken an important step to broaden the perspective by developing an Emergency Succession Plan Template. The Nonprofit Risk Management Center was pleased to be one of the organizations that lent a … Continued

eNoculation

eNoculation Shortly after the I Love You” virus shut down computers all over the world, The Wall Street Journal published an editorial titled, “Love Bug Victims Don’t Want the Cure.” The gist of the piece was that folks actually enjoy these disruptions to the routine and that it is especially good for companies that market … Continued

“Everything’s Fine? We’ve Got Insurance!”

Everything’s Fine? We’ve Got Insurance!” By George L. Head Insurance clearly has its proper, but limited, place in risk financing, which is to pay the truly unpredictable, truly catastrophic loss for which no one can plan or take effective precautions. Relying more on retention for lesser, more predictable and preventable losses, however, leaves your nonprofit … Continued

Financial Sustainability: The New Frontier

By Melanie Herman and Jessica Say Ensuring that adequate funds are available to support the mission of a nonprofit may be the ultimate challenge facing today’s nonprofit sector leaders. The clarion call to “diversify” an agency’s funding sources is often heard, but ultimately hard to achieve. Uncertainty about the ability of a nonprofit to finance … Continued

Fiscal Responsibility and Oversight: Empower Your Board to Lead

Fiscal Responsibility and Oversight: Empower Your Board to Lead By Melanie Lockwood Herman (This article is excerpted from the Center’s brand-new book, Financial Risk Management: A Guide for Nonprofit Executives. While it is rare in a mature nonprofit for a board member to perform day-to-day bookkeeping or financial management duties (such as making journal entries … Continued

Five Things That Should Never Appear in an Employee Handbook

Five Things That Should Never Appear in an Employee Handbook By Melanie Lockwood Herman An employee handbook is a valuable risk management tool when it lays down the organization’s expectations and spells out the consequences if employees don’t live up to the expectations. There are numerous resources available to help guide you with regard to … Continued

Friends, Not Food

Friends, Not Food By Melanie Lockwood Herman There are a host of memorable quips and conversations in the 2003 film Finding Nemo. One of my favorite moments in the film involves the strangely lovable shark, Bruce, and his epiphany about friendship at sea. Bruce reflects on the need to change his image by changing his … 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

Help Wanted! Screening Challenges for 21st Century Nonprofits

Help Wanted! Screening Challenges for 21st Century Nonprofits By Melanie Lockwood Herman and Jennifer Chandler Hauge

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

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

How to Lose Your 501(c)(3) Tax Exempt Status (Without Really Trying)

It’s easy for a nonprofit organization to maintain its tax exempt status—and can be just as easy to lose it. Each year, the IRS revokes the tax-exempt status of more than 100 501(c)(3) organizations. Organizations recognized as exempt from federal income tax under this section of the Internal Revenue Code include private foundations as well … Continued

Human Resource Risks and the Forest of Fog

Human Resource Risks and the Forest of Fog By Melanie Lockwood Herman

I Have a Complaint!

I Have a Complaint! Let’s face it no one’s perfect, including nonprofit organizations created to “make a difference.” Even with a dedicated leadership team and hard-working staff, mistakes are made, egos are bruised and things go wrong in the life of every tax-exempt, nonprofit organization.

IN is OUT, and OUT is IN Outsourcing the Finance or Accounting Function in a Nonprofit

By Alex Ricketts Fiscal Outsourcing Outsourcing financial tasks has become a popular trend in the nonprofit sector. Common reasons nonprofit leaders outsource some or all of their financial management responsibilities include: to gain access to expertise the nonprofit doesn’t require on a full-time basis, to reduce the cost of financial management activity, and to enable … Continued

Increase your Insurance Buying IQ

Increase your Insurance Buying IQ

Increasing Your Liability Protection

Increasing Your Liability Protection Excess vs. umbrella limits By George L. Head, Ph.D. Special Advisor, Nonprofit Risk Management Center

Insurance Fails to Cover Drunk Driving Accident

Insurance Fails to Cover Drunk Driving Accident This article first appeared in Don Kramer’s Nonprofit Issues, and is reprinted here with permission from the publisher. For more information on Nonprofit Issues, visit Veterans of Foreign Wars Post has no insurance to defend it against a suit for injuries caused by a person drinking at the … Continued

IRS Warns of Internet Scam

IRS Warns of Internet Scam

Keeping Your Organization Viable for the Future

Keeping Your Organization Viable for the Future By Dr. Peggy M. Jackson For generations to come, September 11, 2001, will be remembered as a day in which innocent lives were lost and businesses were destroyed. Yet, it doesn’t take a cataclysmic event to threaten the viability of a business or your nonprofit organization. Torrential rainstorms, … Continued

Key Questions: Evaluating CEO Performance

Key Questions: Evaluating CEO Performance Attorney Eileen Morgan Johnson (

Knee-Jerk Risk Management?

by John C. Patterson Should FBI criminal history record checks be required of individuals who work with children? On the surface, the answer to this question would appear to be a resounding yes. Further analysis, however, reveals that a more conditional endorsement of criminal history record checks is warranted. First, we should state for the … Continued

Leaving With the Captain?

Leaving With the Captain? By George L. Head, PhD Special Advisor, the Nonprofit Risk Management Center A colleague recently asked me to contribute some ideas for her presentation to an audience interested in evacuating aged and disabled occupants from high-rise residential buildings. Born with cerebral palsy and never able to stand, I believe my experience … 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

Lessons From the High Road

Lessons From the High Road New Edition of Employment Law Nonprofits Defensible Policies By Jennifer Chandler Hauge and 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

Liability and Screening: Proceed with Caution

Liability and Screening: Proceed with Caution Second edition of popular text offers new insights Recently the Nonprofit Risk Management Center released the second edition of the Staff Screening Tool Kit — one of the organization’s most popular books since its debut in 1994. The new edition, subtitled Building a Strong Foundation Through Careful Staffing,” includes … Continued

Liability Trends for Nonprofit Organizations

Liability Trends for Nonprofit Organizations by Eric Schall Employees. Former employees. Donors. Grantors. Third parties. Fellow board members. You probably don’t like to think of them as liability risks to your nonprofit organization, yet all of them can make your nonprofit the target of a lawsuit. Such lawsuits can easily cost a nonprofit organization hundreds … Continued

Look Before You Leap

Look Before You Leap Exercise Caution When Engaging Consultants By Barbara B. Oliver Expertise that is needed on a short-term and targeted basis or during an economic downturn or a drop in donations can spur a nonprofit to seek outside expertise. Those that hire consultants may save dollars in the long run, if they are … Continued

Looking Back, Looking Ahead: Employment Law Changes for 2009

Looking Back, Looking Ahead: Employment Law Changes for 2009 By Jennifer Chandler Hauge

Love Those Deductibles!

Love Those Deductibles! By George L. Head, PhD, CPCU, ARM, CSP, CLU

Making Net Gains

Making Net Gains Staying Safe While Making a Name for Your Nonprofit on the Internet The following article is adapted from a chapter on managing the risks of Web functionality and content featured in a new book by the Nonprofit Risk Management Center titled: Full Speed Ahead: Managing Technology Risk in the Nonprofit World.

Managing Holiday Party Risks

Managing Holiday Party Risks By Arley Turner It’s time to celebrate! Whether your nonprofit landed a new grant, improved service to consumers, or logged a record number of volunteer hours this year, a celebratory party is overdue. Office parties are a great idea for numerous reasons. They provide an opportunity for telecommuters to reconnect with … Continued

Managing Restricted Grants: Routine or Risky Business?

Managing Restricted Grants: Routine or Risky Business? The article below was adapted from Mission Accomplished: A Practical Guide to Risk Management for Nonprofits, published by the Nonprofit Risk Management Center. For more information about the book, click here. (Mission Accomplished has been replaced by

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

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

Maximizing Seasoned Employees’ Contributions

Maximizing Seasoned Employees’ Contributions By Barbara B. Oliver

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

Myths of Volunteer Risk Management ‹ Part 2

Myths of Volunteer Risk Management — Part 2 by Hal Denton and Fiona Lally This is the second of a six-part 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 … 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

New Audit Standards May Feel Like a Foreign Landscape

Has your auditor given you a call about the new audit standards under Statement on Auditing Standards, No. 112 (“SAS 112”)? Officially known as “Communicating Internal Control Related Matters Identified in An Audit,” the new requirements will be unfamiliar to many nonprofits that receive a management letter identifying “significant deficiencies” or “material weaknesses” in internal … Continued

New Electronic Filing Requirement for Small Tax-Exempt Organizations

New Electronic Filing Requirement for Small Tax-Exempt Organizations Annual Electronic Notice — e-Postcard (Form 990-N) Striving to comply with local, state and federal laws is a first step in managing risk well. Acceptable excuses for noncompliance do not include: “I didn’t know.” The penalty for noncompliance may be financial, or in the case of a … 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

Operational Risk Management A Word from the Wise Guys.shtml

adopt the good practice of considering a range of potential outcomes rather than focusing on a single scenario or potential outcome. A simple way to do this is to imagine both the extreme, worst case scenario as well as a typical or expected case, and then a third outcome somewhere in between. Based on these … Continued

PERI Unveils Online Self-Assessment and Educational Tool

PERI Unveils Online Self-Assessment and Educational Tool In May 2009, the Public Entity Risk Institute (PERI), a nonprofit research institute focused on support for risk management, launched Insuranceformynonprofit.org, an innovative website that helps small and medium sized nonprofit organizations assess their insurance needs and submit requests for insurance quotes to participating insurers. According to PERI … Continued

Personal Privacy: The Latest Oxymoron on the Internet

Personal Privacy: The Latest Oxymoron on the Internet

Practice Safe Surfing and Defensive E-Mail

Practice Safe Surfing and Defensive E-Mail By Barbara B. Oliver

Private, Keep Out!

Private, Keep Out! Meeting Your Clients’ Expectations of Privacy Online by Dennis M. Kirschbaum, ARM I would not call myself a runner. Yes, I do jog for exercise a few times a week, but to me a runner is someone who competes in races, wears a number, and has the special shorts and shirts purchased … Continued

Professional Liability and Governance Exposures: A Closer Look

Professional Liability and Governance Exposures: A Closer Look By Pamela Davis Of the myriad of exposures encountered by nonprofit organizations, two are frequently unappreciated and confused: exposures resulting from the consequences of corporate governance and exposures resulting from errors and omissions associated with the delivery of professional and paraprofessional services. The coverage forms that have … Continued

Protecting Vulnerable Clients from Abuse

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

Protecting Your Nonprofit and the Board

Protecting Your Nonprofit and the Board New Book on Nonprofit D&O Insurance Suggests Multi-Faceted Strategy The Nonprofit Risk Management Center offers a comprehensive text on insurance for nonprofits,

Putting on Your Own Mask First

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

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

Relocating Risks: A Primer for Nonprofits on the Move

Relocating Risks: A Primer for Nonprofits on the Move By Barbara B. Oliver

Resolve to be a Risk-Aware Nonprofit

Resolve to be a Risk-Aware Nonprofit

Resources for Developing or Revising Conflict of Interest Policies

Resources for Developing or Revising Conflict of Interest Policies The following resources may be helpful in developing or revising a conflict of interest policy: Instructions to

Riding Out the Hard Insurance Market

Riding Out the Hard Insurance Market What Your Nonprofit Can Do to Survive and Thrive in Deteriorating Market Conditions By Melanie Lockwood Herman

Risk in the Cloud

Risk in the Cloud by Erin Gloeckner

Risk Management and Religious Organizations

Risk Management and Religious Organizations Melding Practicality and Spirituality in a Risk Management Program by Jeff Hanna When a senior pastor recently proclaimed, “God would not let a faithful church burn down,” an opportunity for the church business administrator to discuss church safety and security issues was lost. Sadly, this mentality is prevalent today in … Continued

Risk Management Heat Wave

Risk Management Heat Wave by Melanie Lockwood Herman Most human beings want to be loved and respected. And that includes risk leaders in today’s nonprofit organizations. Whether your title is “Risk Manager” or “Chief Financial Officer,” “General Counsel” or something else, your commitment to champion effective risk management shouldn’t make you any less lovable than … 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

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

Set the Story Straight with a Financial Dashboard

Set the Story Straight with a Financial Dashboard By Erin Gloeckner Take yourself back to college math class; perhaps you studied statistics or calculus. You may have been one of the lucky few who aced every exam, but more likely, you had trouble staying awake during lectures. Numbers can be boring, confusing, and overwhelming when … Continued

Setting Your Sites: Fraud Resources on the Web

Setting Your Sites: Fraud Resources on the Web

Sexual Harassment

Sexual Harassment Nonprofits are not exempt from sexual harassment claims like those recently in the news for business firms and public agencies. For example, a legal secretary in California received a multimillion dollar verdict against a law firm. A trial in the District of Columbia revealed grotesque and pervasive harassment in the D.C. Department of … Continued

Six Tips for Playing it Safe: At Work, At Home, On the Web

Six Tips for Playing it Safe: At Work, At Home, On the Web by Dennis M. Kirschbaum, ARM We have all heard the saying, To err is human; to really foul things up requires a computer.” The fact is, computers do not foul things up, people do. But computers allow us to foul them up … Continued

Sound Policies and Timely Investigations

Sound Policies and Timely Investigations Essential Ingredients for Avoiding By Melanie Lockwood Herman and Leslie T. White Employer liability for sexual harassment continues to attract the media’s attention. Multi-million dollar judgments and recent Supreme Court rulings have generated renewed interest in the topic. Consequently, employees have a growing awareness of the availability of legal remedies … 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

Stepping Around or Stepping Up?

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

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

Stop Identity Theft — From the Inside Out

Stop Identity Theft — From the Inside Out

Strategic Risk Management: Looking at Both Sides Now

Strategic Risk Management: Looking at Both Sides Now By Melanie Lockwood Herman and George L. Head, Ph.D.

Strengthen the Weakest Link in the Chain

Strengthen the Weakest Link in the Chain If asked to name the number one resource that your nonprofit has, I’d wager that it would be your staff of paid and volunteer people. Whether that’s one person and a telephone or thousands of people spread throughout the country, who represents your organization is of utmost importance … Continued

Survey Sheds Light on Screening Practices of Volunteer Organizations

Survey Sheds Light on Screening Practices of Volunteer Organizations APRIL 22, 2008 — Washington, DC — At a press conference attended by representatives of prominent youth serving organizations and the local media, the

Sustaining Nonprofits During Economic Downturns

Sustaining Nonprofits During Economic Downturns by George L. Head, Ph.D.

Swimming With Sharks and Other Perils of Special Events

By Barbara B. Oliver ‘Tis May, ’tis May, the merry month of May, when thoughts turn to sports competitions, street fairs, music festivals, parades and other special events. It’s a wonderful time of year to promote a nonprofit’s name, encourage participation of a new crop of volunteers, and perhaps earn some unrestricted funds to support … Continued

Tame Junk E-Mail

Tame Junk E-Mail Take Me Off Your Spam List!

Teambuilding: Rx for Crisis Survival

Teambuilding: Rx for Crisis Survival New Book Offers Practical Tips for Anticipating, Preventing and Surviving a Crisis By Melanie Lockwood Herman and Barbara B. Oliver The following article is excerpted from a new book from the Nonprofit Risk Management Center, Vital Signs: Anticipating, Preventing and Surviving a Crisis in a Nonprofit. For more information, click … Continued

Tech Risk Q & A

Tech Risk Q & A by Melanie Lockwood Herman & Erin Gloeckner

Technology: Boon or Bust?

Technology: Boon or Bust? By Jennifer Chandler Hauge

Ten Tips for Buying Insurance

Ten Tips for Buying Insurance Many nonprofit managers dread the insurance purchasing process. An insurer may demand a lot of information, but then decline to offer a policy. The process may seem to waste valuable time and resources.

The “Additional Insured”

The “Additional Insured” By George L. Head, PhD, CPCU, ARM, CSP, CLU, Special Advisor, Nonprofit Risk Management Center

The AFL-CIO Split: What it Means to Non-Union Nonprofits

The AFL-CIO Split: What it Means to Non-Union Nonprofits By Karla Grossenbacher, Partner, Seyfarth Shaw LLP At the end of July 2005, during the AFL-CIO’s annual convention in Chicago, four of the largest AFL-CIO unions — the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, UNITE-HERE and the United Food and Commercial Workers … Continued

The Audit Committee and Its Expanding Role in Risk Management

The Audit Committee and Its Expanding Role in Risk Management By H. Felix Kloman The National Association of Corporate Directors and The Center for Board Leadership have just published Audit Committees: A Practical Guide.” It is the work of a Blue Ribbon Committee on Audit Committees and will have a major effect on the practice … Continued

The Essence of Youth Protection: Rules, Reporting and Consequences

The Essence of Youth Protection: Rules, Reporting and Consequences By John C. Patterson Organizations are obsessed with ferreting out sexual predators and preventing them access to young people. Unfortunately, in their zeal to do this, organizations focus too much on the sexual predator, and not enough on the safety of the children they want to … Continued

The Eye of the Beholder: Managing Reputation Risk

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

The Kids Are All Right

The Kids Are All Right By Melanie Lockwood Herman The beginning of the school year offers a reminder to children and teens that learning isn’t always easy, that hard work generally pays off, and that rules and limits often exist to keep us safe. The same can be said about the lessons, hard work, and … Continued

The Road to Safety

The Road to Safety New Book Explores Practical, Legal, and Effective Employment Policies The following text is excerpted from the introduction of the Center’s new book: Taking the High Road: A Guide to Effective and Legal Employment Practices for Nonprofits. To order a copy, call (202) 785-3891 or click here to order online. Revisiting the … Continued

The Rules of the FLSA Game Are A-Changin’

The Rules of the FLSA Game Are A-Changin’ Most nonprofit employers know that it’s critically important to distinguish between “exempt” and “non-exempt” employees or risk exposure to costly awards of multiples of back pay and penalties. For those of you who don’t know, “exempt” means exempt from the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the … Continued

Theft of Funds is Not Covered by Insurance

Theft of Funds Is Not Covered by Insurance This article first appeared in Don Kramer’s Nonprofit Issues, and is reprinted here with permission from the publisher. For more information on Nonprofit Issues, visit

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.” –

Volunteer or Employee: Do You Know the Difference?

Volunteer or Employee: Do You Know the Difference? To get RISK HELP on classification and other HR issues throughout the year, join the Center as an Q: What is the definition of a volunteer? A: Federal law, under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, (FLSA) defines individuals that provide services without any expectation of compensation, … Continued

We All Do It: Mistakes in Nonprofit Life

We All Do It: Mistakes in Nonprofit Life By Melanie Lockwood Herman

What is “Negligent Hiring?”

What is “Negligent Hiring?”

What to Do During an Earthquake

What to Do During an Earthquake Stay as safe as possible during an earthquake. Be aware that some earthquakes are actually foreshocks and a larger earthquake might occur. Minimize your movements to a few steps to a nearby safe place and if you are indoors, stay there until the shaking has stopped and you are … Continued

What’s a Pilot

What’s a Pilot? The term “pilot project” is often used by nonprofit leaders to describe an experiment with something new. “We’re embarking on a pilot project” may refer to an experiment with strategy, target audience to be served, or a newly formed partnership or collaboration. According to Harvard Business School Professor Amy C. Edmondson, “pilot … Continued

Whats the Big Deal? The Big Deal is Governance

What’s the Big Deal? The Big Deal is Governance By Jennifer Chandler Hauge Whoa! What’s happening? The IRS has just thrown its biggest punch in over 30 years. Is your nonprofit ready to take the hit? With a quick one-two punch, the IRS has just stepped into the ring. Egged on by Congress, amidst a … Continued

What’s the Board Got to Do With it?

What’s the Board Got to Do With it? The Vital Link Between Good Governance and Risk Management By Melanie Lockwood Herman During my trip to Australia this summer I was surprised and delighted to see that risk management tops the list of key agenda items for a typical nonprofit board. At a conference for board … Continued

Who’s Afraid of Claims Made?

Who’s Afraid of Claims Made?

Workplace Stress

Workplace Stress Tackling Stress Improves Morale, Productivity and Safety This article is excerpted from the Center’s brand-new, free online resource titled, Workplace Safety Is No Accident — An Employer’s Online Toolkit to Protect Employees and Volunteers. Rising workplace stress is a large albatross hanging around the necks of workers and employers. According to studies of … Continued

Your Special Skills in Managing Risk

Your Special Skills in Managing Risk Recognizing Conflict, Reaching Consensus By George L. Head, Ph.D. This is the first in a series of columns asking you to consider how the special knowledge and skills that executive directors and other senior managers of community-serving nonprofits apply in advancing their nonprofit’s mission can also be used in … Continued

Your Special Skills in Managing Risk

Your Special Skills in Managing Risk Sifting for Truth By George L. Head, Ph.D. This column focuses on how executive directors and other senior managers of community-serving nonprofits can use the special knowledge and skills they apply in advancing their nonprofit’s mission to manage their organizations’ strategic risk management. Everyone, to some degree, learns in … Continued

Your Staff Has a Thousand Eyes

Your Staff Has a Thousand Eyes By George L. Head, PhD, CPCU, ARM, CSP, CLU, Special Advisor, Nonprofit Risk Management Center