Got Risk?

Melanie Herman Lockwood

Top 10 Risks according to Melanie Lockwood Herman, of Nonprofit Risk Management Center.  And she should know.  Melanie provided the following list at the AICPA Not-for-Profit Industry Conference last month.


  1. Uncertainty regarding financial sustainability. The less cash on hand, the greater the danger when revenue is late or unreliable;
  2. Ineffective fiscal and risk oversight;
  3. Incomplete appreciation of fraud risk. There are three general kinds: against the nonprofit, by the nonprofit and through the nonprofit;
  4. Allowing a leader/staff member/volunteer to be “above suspicion.” A casual glance through the news should be enough to put this one to rest;
  5. Lack of succession planning. On average, boards spend two hours a year on CEO succession planning;
  6. Ineffective departure planning and execution. Nothing lasts forever;
  7. Naïve crisis planning. People don’t get to choose the source or cause of their next crisis;
  8. Dissatisfied donors (poorly understood/managed donor relationships);
  9. Unmanaged conflict on the board; and,
  10. Lack of practical (well-understood) governance practices. This can cover every conceivable item, from conflict of interest through gift acceptance, and anything in between.