By Rachel Sams
This spring, the Nonprofit Risk Management Center convened diverse focus groups of leaders of small and midsize nonprofits. The leaders shared their biggest human resources and risk management challenges.
We were awed by the immense responsibilities these leaders juggle to run their organizations. And we were inspired by the opportunity to provide resources to help busy nonprofit leaders navigate human resources and risk issues.
Many small and midsized nonprofits don’t have dedicated HR or risk staff, so they have an acute need for information and resources on these topics. And like all nonprofit leaders, our focus group participants faced a workforce shortage and staff burnout nearly three years into a pandemic. With that in mind, NRMC has launched a new website full of resources to help nonprofit organizations build strong, supportive relationships with employees and manage the risk issues they face.
The site was made possible by a $90,000 grant from the Fidelity Charitable Trustees’ Initiative. Insights NRMC gathered from the focus groups and beta testing by nonprofit leaders shaped the design and content of the new website.
“Our HR and risk resources project fits perfectly with NRMC’s educational mission,” said Executive Director Melanie Lockwood Herman. “The Fidelity Charitable Trustees’ Initiative grant allowed us to develop a suite of resources that will help nonprofits navigate their biggest HR and risk challenges.”
“Staff at nonprofits are the heart of improving our communities and responding to society’s toughest challenges. And yet, smaller nonprofits are not often given the resources to invest in recruiting and retaining top talent,” said Tony Bowen, Vice President, Fidelity Charitable. “NRMC has launched a robust set of pragmatic resources to meet nonprofits where they are and immediately take action to support their people.”
The majority of focus group participants found hiring the most challenging stage of the employment relationship, followed closely by supervision. Most focus group participants found taking action on risks the most challenging aspect of risk management. Leaders identified specific HR and risk challenges including cybersecurity, cross-training, and hiring and managing employees remotely.
“What do we do for continuity because we are so small?” the state director of an education nonprofit said. “You could get one person missing in the link and it could derail the organization for quite a while.”
The free resource website includes factsheets, infographics, checklists, worksheets, and templates that nonprofit organizations can view and download. The resources cover topics from cybersecurity defense to how to manage across generations and handle conflict in the workplace. More than 100 nonprofit leaders beta tested the website and provided feedback, which NRMC used to bolster the resources. NRMC plans to add at least two new resources to the site each month.
Marketing and creative collective The Carbon Agency built the resource website for NRMC. Diversity Crew, a consortium focused on diversity and inclusion, advised NRMC on how to recruit and engage diverse focus groups and make the website and resources accessible and culturally relevant across differences, including gender, ethnicity, ability, sexual orientation, and more.
The Nonprofit Risk Management Center, based in Leesburg, Virginia, inspires effective risk management and Risk Champions across the nonprofit sector. NRMC enables nonprofit leaders to identify and manage risks that threaten their missions and operations, while empowering them to leverage opportunities and take bold, mission-advancing risks.
Rachel Sams is a Consultant and Staff Writer at the Nonprofit Risk Management Center. Leading NRMC’s focus groups of nonprofit executives was one of her favorite projects this year. She’d love to hear what resources your organization needs to manage its HR and risk challenges. Reach her at email@example.com or 703.777.3504.