We’re in an intense season of upheaval and change right now. Our operations, fundraising, events, schedules, and even personnel aren’t what they were pre-COVID, and we likely won’t be able to be back to “normal” for a while. It’s exhausting.
But one of the benefits of this season of upheaval is that it offers the perfect opportunity to evaluate other friction points or weaknesses in your policies and procedures, and establish plans for improving those. Think about it - change is never easy and it’s a bit like cooking or cleaning - things inevitably get messier and more complicated before you get that nice, shiny end result. When everything is moving along smoothly it can be scary introducing the inevitable mess of change that could temporarily disrupt your forward progress.
But things aren’t going smoothly right now! We’re already in a mess, forced to test, improvise, and adapt as we go along.
Identifying areas where improvement is needed can be challenging - especially when you’re enmeshed in the day-to-day of running a center during a pandemic. This is why I’m so grateful to have taken Care Net’s Organizational Essentials course through Centers of Excellence University. Below are a few of the things the course touched on that I feel are especially relevant for managing risk.
Data Security: Do you have procedures in place to protect your client records, donor records, personnel data, and financial information? When was the last time your staff reviewed internet safety best practices, like how to spot potential scam or phishing attacks?
Legal Compliance: What is your system for staying informed on laws and regulation changes in your state? Sexual abuse reporting requirements, adoption regulations, state medical requirements, and licensure are all areas of public policy your center must always have the latest information on.
Personnel Management: Our people are our greatest resource, but they can also be the biggest hindrance if there is unresolved conflict or a lack of training. Ask yourself, “Should we change or update our training? When was the last time everyone was reminded of our conflict resolution procedures?”
Online Presence: Your center’s online presence is vital to reaching your target audience, but it’s not something that can just be set up once and left - it requires constant maintenance. Does someone on your team routinely monitor and respond to online reviews? How much effort does your center put into Search Engine Optimization, and how frequently are your online ads updated?
As you work through these and other areas of risk-management, start with the following strategies.
Ensure your policies and procedures are comprehensive, up-to-date, and easily accessible. This includes making sure all personnel have easy access to digital or printed versions of your policies and procedures. It also means evaluating potential gaps in your policies, as well as updating as things change. This is especially important for technology and online security policies and procedures. Overlooked procedures often include those for disease exposure (like COVID), and also other events like active shooters, hostile protesters, fire, flood, etc.
Ensure your staff and volunteers are well trained. Policies and procedures are no good if they aren’t followed! Make sure all your personnel undergo regular trainings to keep your centers’ best practices front and center in their minds. If you’re daunted at the thought of performing all the training in house, remember that Care Net has a wonderful team of experienced trainers (myself included) who can lead trainings on a consulting basis. All of Care Net's online professional development trainings include applicable risk management principles too.
Ensure your center has adequate insurance. Pregnancy centers should carry several different types of insurance, including general liability and professional liability insurance, directors and officers insurance, medical malpractice insurance (if your center offers medical services), auto insurance, and workers compensation insurance. Care Net affiliates can find more details on pregnancy center insurance here.
Finally, imagine what could go wrong and seek to mitigate those risks. What would happen if there was a ransomware attack against your center or someone falsely claimed that the personnel performing sonograms at your center weren't medical professionals. Are you equipped to handle those situations? Get creative and get your staff involved, asking them to imagine worst-case scenarios and propose potential ways to protect against those.
As we adjust to change our pregnancy centers can adjust too. We live in a time of great change but we also live under the protection and blessings of our Lord Jesus! We know the great work done in our centers is especially important to our Lord. So take a deep breath, pray for God’s guidance, and take a fresh look at your center to see what needs to be changed. As Solomon said in the book of Proverbs 22:3 “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.”