Management Consulting for Nonprofits and Social Enterprises

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6 Board Duties in Nonprofit Organizations During Crisis

Published By

Rick Nason, Ph.D.

Published By

Omer Livvarcin, Ph.D.


Nonprofit board members have challenging roles and responsibilities. It is difficult to make sound decisions if you don’t understand the situation. Continuously monitor and measure key performance indicators of your nonprofit organization. Things change very fast and unexpectedly. This is where it really helps to have a pre-developed risk dashboard. Just as importantly, have a handle on the what you don’t know and what you don’t have data on.

Analyze & Think

Analyze what the data means to your nonprofit organizations. Consider your resources and key objectives. By necessity you will also need to consider the elements that are complex or uncertain as we discussed in our previous blog.


Make a decision that you believe is best for your nonprofit organization. In complex or uncertain situations, optimal answers are likely not available, so the best you can do is to adopt a “manage, not solve” mindset. Just be sure to consider unintended long-term consequences.


Assist executive director and staff of your nonprofit organizations to apply new decisions. Start to implement sound risk management practices to mitigate any possible unintended consequences. Be aware of the the distinction between the responsibilities of board members and staff.


Observe initial response and impact. Verify your decisions and make necessary changes if needed. A “try, learn, adapt” attitude is likely to be more successful than large scale inflexible changes in operations.


The last, but not the least step, is to regularly inform your stakeholders and to immediately update them on any significant developments. Keep them informed not just to make them happy but also to make them part of your solution. Encourage dialogue and develop efficient channels of communication.

Rick Nason and Omer Livvarcin are co-authors of the book “Risk Management for Non-Profits”, published by Business Experts Press. Omer is also the founder of and Vectors Group. Rick is also author of “It’s Not Complicated: The Art and Science of Complexity in Management”, published by University of Toronto Press.

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