Just the other day, my entire 20-floor office building located in a dense metropolitan area had to empty out during a routine fire drill. The stairwell was shoulder to shoulder with people shuffling down single file into the parking lot.
Afterwards, when work resumed, an email was sent to all occupants from the building administrator saying that our exit time was the best yet. But that officials spotted several folks with beverages in their hands during the exercise which could be a real hazard if spilled on the stairs in a real-life emergency.
Who would have known I should have left my water bottle upstairs?
This precautionary measure helped identify potential threats moving forward. Are you doing anything to internally assess risk at your own organization?
So often it is overlooked by many nonprofits, but analyzing holes in protocol or operational standards on a regular basis can help your organization stay protected from possible setbacks. After all, it only takes one big penalty to have a dramatic impact, especially in a not-for-profit environment.
First become familiar with the goals of conducting risk assessment.
Next you’ll want to take appropriate steps to addressing any potential risks you identify.
Some of these you might already have in place, but others you are not currently practicing could be a fairly easy fix.
Create checks and balances for asset oversight. Rather than having just one individual staff member or a single department controlling all assets, reporting, and payments, there should always be a separate internal auditor of sorts that oversees the process.
Make payments more transparent internally. Most cases of fraud or misuse of assets comes from a lack of payment controls. Incorporate a new procedure where all checks require two signatures. This will help monitor and hold accountable things like inventory control, travel expense reimbursements, and so on.
Establish a no-nonsense approach from the top down. Setting a strong ethical and professional set of standards throughout your entire nonprofit organization—from senior leadership, board of advisors, and staff—will strengthen your protection from a number of risks. Enforce policies evenly among all positions such as conflicts of interest, code of ethics, zero tolerance for any form of harassment, and payment controls.
By identifying potential risk factors and developing measures to avoid them, you can save yourself (and your organization) from a number of disasters down the road.