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Bang goes the theory

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Writing the Getting Started leaflet and IRM’s new guidance was an act of pure humanitarianism.  I did it to spare you from having to go through what I did when I first had to tackle risk management.

Several years ago, I was tasked with setting up the brand new risk management function at the charity I worked for.  My experience up until then had been largely managing risks in projects and programmes so, to make sure I was 100% up to speed, I hit the internet.  I duly printed off a mountain of paper and, armed with the full Oxford dictionary, studiously worked through it all in the hope that I might find the necessary pearls of wisdom. 

Some hope. When I wasn’t battling through technical jargon – ‘Model reparameterisation’, anyone? – I was reading material which both assumed that I had an expert team of risk professionals at my disposal, and that I worked for a large corporate.

Well, like most charities, I didn’t have a team.  I was on my own and the risks that charities face are very different from those of, say, multinational banks.  I look after strategy, planning, performance management and project management as well as risk management and some other things I’ve probably forgotten about!  And the charity sector is hardly a byword for over-employment. We’re all stretched. I just don’t have time to research things as much as I’d like to and I know that you’re in exactly the same boat.

So, having got to grips with the theory, two things struck me.

First, you don’t need that technical talk when you’re starting out – turning risk management theory into relevant, practical process doesn’t need to be complicated.

Second, if we in the voluntary sector start proactively managing our risks, we get rid of many of the obstacles that lie in the way of us fully achieving our objectives.

‘Risk management’ isn’t a phrase that makes most people’s hearts sing.  So, to engage our staff and get risk management embedded across the organisation, I think we need something really simple that demystifies the process and tells us how we might do it. 

That’s why I’ve written ‘Risk management for charities – Getting started.  I hope you find it easy to read no matter how little spare time you have – and if you want more detail you can find it in our supplementary guidance. 

Oh, and model reparameterisation? It just means reviewing the way you examine your risks.