On February 23, Laura Colin Klein, Executive Director of charitySTRONG, and Wendy Seligson, founder of Wendy Seligson Consulting, facilitated a workshop at the New York Nonprofit Coordinating Committee on how boards of nonprofits can identify and address risks their organizations face. “Managing risk makes nonprofits healthier, stronger and better able to meet their mission,” noted Seligson in kicking off the discussion. And, while many of us think of risk as a negative concept, boards also need to prepare for “positive risks (that) fuel growth and innovation.”
The workshop included 25 senior board and staff leaders from agencies, large and small, across New York City. Discussion focused on the different roles that staff and board members play in managing organizational risk and practical steps that organizations can take to tap positive risks and mitigate negative ones. Klein commented on the importance of recognizing “business critical risks” which have a high probability of occurring or significant consequences. She encouraged participants to provide training to board members, designate a group of board members to focus on risk and set aside time annually for an organizational scan. Seligson emphasized the importance of an organizational culture with positive and open communication that fosters informed discussion of risk and indicated that organizations do not typically need to build new systems to address risk but can deepen current assessment efforts by board and staff to account for risk in an intentional manner.
For more information on risk management and nonprofit boards, please click here to access the workshop resource list.