Volunteer risk management should be incorporated into your volunteer management process.

Like all business, risk is a factor even in the nonprofit world.  How your nonprofit goes about handling risk can make all the difference in potential threats impact on the organization.  In a nutshell, volunteer risk management is the process of identifying and migrating risk factors. Creating a strategy for how your nonprofit handles threats is becoming more and more important in today’s digital world. Unhappy volunteers have ample opportunity to express their concerns and broadcast to the masses. Negative messaging can spread like wildfire across the interweb that can cause real harm to the reputation of your nonprofit organization.

Creating an effective strategy for volunteer risk management can also increase the probability of positive events and media for your organization.  Why? Because you’re taking the right steps to create positive opportunities. Here are a few additional reasons why volunteer risk management is important:

  • Risk can affect all departments of your organization
  • Risk management greatly reduces the chance of a negative event
  • Risk management can create better experiences for your organization’s volunteers and stakeholders
  • Focusing on risk reduction will strengthen your organization’s mission
  • Risk management can help your nonprofit to create a full reputation management plan

“Reputation risk is the greatest risk facing companies, with as much as 75% of a company’s value based on reputation” Economist Intelligence Unit

The Volunteer Risk Management Process

Identifying and controlling volunteer risk can be done in 5 easy steps.  These steps are to identify, analyze, evaluate, treat, and monitor.  It’s important to note that your nonprofit should follow these steps in the exact order that was mentioned above for the strategy to be most effective at minimizing risk factors.  It’s time to dive into each of these steps into more detail.

Identify your nonprofits potential risk

One of the hardest steps in the process is identifying a potential risk.  Luckily, the web has made the process a little bit easier for your organization from a reputation standpoint.  Identifying your nonprofits risks are time sensitive and the longer the risk goes unnoticed the more dangerous it can become.  Follow these steps to identify risks as early as you can:

  • Involve all of your organization’s departments to be consistently looking for risk factors
  • Keep an eye on your volunteer complaints both on and offline (note: an offline complaint can soon become an online complaint)
  • Be involved and engage daily on social media to catch a problem as early as possible
  • Set up a free Google Alerts account to create keyword notifications
  • Be a volunteer centric organization and focus on delivering positive experiences all the time
  • Create a safe work environment for volunteers
  • Check your review sites daily

 Analyze and evaluate the impact of the potential risk on your nonprofit and act accordingly

Once your organization has identified a potential risk it is time to focus on determining how much impact it could have on your nonprofit.  Your organization should break the potential risk into predetermined categories from the high impact to low.  Creating these categories will help your organization to determine the best process for addressing them.  For example, risk factors with a high consequence level will need immediate corrective action versus a risk factor with a low consequence level may not require corrective action at all.  Check out this great resource for creating your nonprofits risk analysis chart.

For more information on how your nonprofit can respond to risks take a look at this recent article on nonprofit quarterly.

Continue to monitor the potential risk

Even after your organization has addressed a potential risk it is important to continue to monitor its resolution.  You never know when an issue that you thought was addressed could resurface and cause more harm.  Here are a few tools that your nonprofit organization can use to monitor online reputation risk:

Volunteer Risk Management Takeaways

Developing a comprehensive risk management plan is important for all organizations including nonprofits.  The plan can help to identify, analyze, evaluate, treat, and monitor the risk factor.  Risk management creates the opportunity to limit the consequences associated with risk and strengthen your nonprofit at the same time.  Take the time to understand variables that could cause risk to your volunteer program and your nonprofit will be better off in the long run.

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