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Increasing Nonprofit Resilience Using Lean Risk Management

Escaping the Fog of Nonprofit Anxiety Using Lean Risk Management

The start of a new year is always a time for reflection and goal-setting. Given our collective experience in 2020, from the perils of a pandemic to political and social unrest, 2021 should be a year for charting a new, incremental path toward greater resilience and agility.

In future blogs, I will set out a five-step journey that nonprofits of all sizes and complexity can take to increase their ability to manage and identify risks they face. We call this our Lean Risk Management Success Path™, because unlike some approaches, our approach is incremental and directly scaled to the particular nature of your nonprofit organization.

The first step toward resilience is determining where you are on the path. Most nonprofits will find themselves at the beginning of the path as described below, or in the early stages of the path we will explore in the next blogs. By locating yourself on the path, you can begin to chart a meaningful course forward.

“BEFORE” – In “the Fog of Anxiety”

At the beginning of your risk process journey, you may find yourself in what we call the fog of anxiety. Most nonprofits are in this phase when they first consider nonprofit risk management strategies. A nonprofit leader in this stage has one or more of six common fears:

  • You are overworked and worried about burnout for yourself, your staff, and your board members.
  • You are worried that you have too many balls in the air. You don’t know where all the balls are. You don’t even know WHAT all the balls are.
  • You are concerned about board engagement, since your board seems to oscillate between disinterest and micromanagement.
  • You feel that despite your board’s best intentions, they don’t support you as well as they might.
  • The same is true about your staff: they mean well and work hard, but they are unable to help bear the burdens you carry. You worry about them especially in light of the strains of pandemic, social and political unrest, and virtual work environments.

On the other hand, successful nonprofit leaders at this stage often have a number of common hopes:

  • You want sustainability and seek useful nonprofit resources for your organization.
  • You want and believe in the possibility of a highly performing staff and board.
  • You want measurable, provable impact that you can display to stakeholders and funders.
  • At bottom, you want better overall performance for your organization.

TOLLGATE OUT OF THE “FOG OF ANXIETY.” The nonprofit leader escapes this phase when she starts searching for information about how to deal with potential risks – and stumbles upon the concept of Lean Risk Management™.

Risk Alternatives sponsors and curates an online group for nonprofit leaders who want to build resilient organizations. To stay informed about this group, called Nonprofits Build Strength Together (BeST), visit www.riskalts.com/nonprofits-best/.

To view previous blog posts about this subject, please click HERE.