2021: Are You Ready?

I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.
Rosa Parks

By Whitney Claire Thomey

A common sentiment among anyone surviving the first year of this new decade is, “I can’t wait for this year to be over!” The allure of a clean slate in 2021 sparks hope and cautious optimism that what comes next must be better than the dark times behind us.

Nonprofits have struggled in 2020 with a global pandemic, political unrest, callouts against long-standing systemic racism and injustice, raging brushfires and wildfires, and other natural disasters that have left communities stricken. It’s no wonder the world is ready to move on! But are we ready? Have we taken the time to examine how our organizations fared, how we responded when our communities needed help, and when team members struggled with isolation?

As this year comes to a close, the NRMC team offers the following resources to help nonprofit leaders prepare for 2021. We hope you are investing in building organizational resilience and looking with optimism to the promise of the future.

Future Focused: 3 Virtues and Vows
In this piece, the NRMC team presents three anchoring virtues and vows nonprofit leaders should embrace to face, with confidence, an unknown future. Anchoring these three virtues in sight while you make plans for 2021 and beyond will help you steer and guide actions and programs to maximize mission fulfillment and employee satisfaction.

Toss Your To-Do List
The NRMC team has been using a powerful focus tool in 2020, and we challenge Risk eNews readers to do the same! Rather than building a long list of to-dos or impending risks and challenges, focus on the ONE THING that matters the most. As you look ahead at what 2021 might bring, consider the tips in this article for focusing on one big-picture strategic goal that can drive your mission to new heights in 2021.

One Thing
Melanie Lockwood Herman, Executive Director, relates reflections from Marshall Goldsmith on identity. This piece offers essential reminders of the dangers of basing risk management practices on the wounds and scars of the past. Nonprofit leaders must resist clutching organizations tightly in their fist, lest they watch the sand slip through their fingers. Instead, striving to base future practices on flexibility and adaptability will foster resilience.

Find Inspiration in an Epic Fail
Was 2020 an ‘epic fail’ in some respects? Instead of burying what went wrong in your organization, resolve to embed learning, and focus on the phoenix rising from the ashes. Failure provides the fertile soil for growth and evolution needed to be truly resilient.

Ready… Set… Learn! Get Ready NOW for What’s NEXT!
Build off the previous article, “Find Inspiration in an Epic Fail,” with our suite of tools to build your organization’s resilience. These fillable PDFs will help risk champions extract meaningful information about critical organizational features that support your mission, lessons learned from COVID-19 and other disruptions, and what you can learn about a response to wins, near misses, and failures.

Surprises Await: Embrace the Future
The NRMC team has observed clients and Affiliate Members practice effective risk management when they embrace candid conversations with team members at all levels. This article provides useful prompts to guide fruitful conversations about the future with your board and staff teams.

Question Everything
This year, nonprofit leaders have learned about change: the desperate need for change to correct injustice, the importance change plays in resilient organizations, and how change inspires us to innovate for our missions. As you embark on 2021, help your organization prepare by questioning everything. This piece gives insights into how to usher in a new chapter of growth and change through introspection.

How to Prepare for 2021: Insights from NRMC Advisors
Navigating the world of insurance can be daunting during normal circumstances. However, during a disruption, nonprofit leaders might be wondering, ‘Am I doing what’s right for my organization?’ or ‘Do I have the coverages I need?’ and ‘Have my coverage needs changed?’ In this piece, NRMC’s Corporate Advisory Committee members offer insights on how nonprofits can plan for 2021 to ensure their missions are safe and insured.

Business Continuity Planning: Taking it from the Backburner to the Front and Center
2020 has taught everyone how vital a business continuity plan (BCP) can be. None of us predicted the timing and full scope of the pandemic; its far-reaching consequences and disruptions illustrate the importance of compiling flexible backup plans. If a BCP is still on your must-do list for 2021, this timely article will give tips for re-energizing the project!

Coping with Crisis: Managing Employee Fear and Low Morale
The 2020 pandemic has touched every aspect of life and every person in some way. The question isn’t ‘were you affected?’ but rather ‘how were you affected?’ Team members will struggle in different ways, and nonprofit leaders should be examining how to help their team members bounce back in 2021. This classic from the NRMC Risk eNews archives explores how crises affect team members and what leaders can do to help staff cope with a traumatic experience. Salient information about crisis management can help your team leave the trauma behind and prepare for the promises of tomorrow.

With 2021 on the horizon, there is an air of anxious anticipation to leave this year behind us. Resist the urge to close the door and forget about the pain that your organization has faced. The world has seen unprecedented trials, and we are rising to the challenge. Failure can be a gift when leaders use the experience to build resilience, evolve programs and practices to support the mission and the community, and defy odds.

Whitney Thomey is Project Manager at the Nonprofit Risk Management Center. Whitney welcomes your comments and questions about hope and future-focused risk management at 703.777.3504 or Whitney@nonprofitrisk.org.