Smart Tips for Risk Management

Published January 15, 2014

I stumbled on this recently while reviewing our publication "Risk Management Guide for Community Sport Organizations" that we wrote for 2010 Legacies Now. I was reminded how simpler is always better, and this is especially true when we are communicating about risk management. Here is the excerpt from page 7 of that Guide:

... David Hartley of the Insurance and Liability Resource Centre for Non-Profits at Imagine Canada has put together a simple set of tips that can provide context for much of your risk management efforts. Whether it is communicating your commitment to risk management or preparing written policies for dealing with risks, these tips are very helpful. Note that these tips have been adapted slightly to suit the community sport context.

Tip 1: Protecting your participants is Priority One - Regularly communicate to your volunteers and staff the following: “Our first priority as an organization is to ensure the safety of our participants.” If risk management is just about protecting your assets from a lawsuit, you will never get the buy-in from your staff and volunteers that you need.

Tip 2: The real experts are around you - Don’t create risk management procedures without first consulting your front line people (staff and volunteers), especially those who know the risks and, most likely, the best ways to manage them.

Tip 3: Put it in writing – your own writing - Written procedures are important to ensure consistency, uncover current blind spots, create a legal paper trail in the event of a lawsuit, and ensure proper monitoring for results. Use your people's own words whenever possible. It will help you get buy-in. Do not fall into the trap of using blank templates other organizations have created. Make them your own.

Tip 4: Keep it simple – one page is often enough - Risk management has its tricky moments and the occasional need for expert wisdom, but the products of your work need to be clear (easy to read) and concise (so they will be read). Use one page for communications/forms whenever possible.

Tip 5: Keep it kind - Too often, risk management forms and communications are written in such as way that they make non-profits look uncaring and ungrateful. This is not necessary. Legal forms can be kind.

Tip 6: Where there is one-on-one interaction with your participants, keep documentation forever - Where a staff or volunteer position requires one-on-one interaction with a vulnerable participant, never destroy important and relevant paperwork...

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