5 steps to executive risk responsibility

Talking about risk can be risky. People don’t like being reminded that things can go wrong, and people who offer that unwelcome reminder can find themselves taking the blame if something does go wrong.

During the 2014 Nonprofit Executive Summit in Santa Fe. N.M., Melanie Lockwood Herman of the Nonprofit Risk Management Center and Diana Del Bel Belluz of Risk Wise Inc. said that nonprofit executives have a responsibility in leading the way on risk awareness and preparedness. They said executives could discharge that responsibility with the following five steps:

  • Encourage the board to embrace its risk oversight role and responsibility. Expand the scope of the existing committee or form a new one.
  • Engage with the staff team on the approach to surfacing and understanding critical risks. Is a staff level risk management committee needed?
  • What additional training and support will be needed to strengthen the nonprofit’s internal risk management capacity? This includes individual and group training.
  • What written materials are needed to support and guide the risk management program? Think of a statement of policy, risk committee charters and written material versus videos.
  • What communications and reporting processes should be adopted to communicate risks and risk management strategies across the organization? Ask: Are we stimulating the right conversations?