The boards of nonprofit organizations make numerous decisions. Some are small and routine, like approving the minutes. Others, like setting executive limitations policies, have significant impact on the organization. But the one big decision for nonprofit directors is hiring the CEO. Get this decision right, and nearly all the others fall into place. Get it wrong, and not much else will work.
We hit the bottom of a flume and leapt into the air. The raft went left and a woman at the front went right— into the Class III rapids. She surfaced, legs out in front, and let the life vest carry her along, pushing off rocks with her paddle and arms. Our guide shouted instructions and we manuevered the raft close enough to throw her a rope. As we pulled alongside, two of our crew grasped her life vest and pull her aboard. Cold and little shaken, she took up her paddle and dug in. She was safe again, partly because she had known what to do and so had we. But the reason we knew what to do was that our whitewater guide knew about risk management.
Off-balance. Unable to cope. Distressed to the point of impairment. A crisis is not the aggravating problem that erupts on Tuesday and the staff resolves by Thursday. A crisis is big enough to up-end the organization, and you can’t always see it coming. It may have staff, donors, and even clients questioning their ability or willingness to continue. Your board can prepare to lead through the crisis that hasn’t happened yet. Develop an emergency response plan that adapts quickly to whatever may come.