When nonprofit agencies think about risk management and protecting themselves, they usually think in terms of someone slipping and falling, auto accidents, insurance, etc. But they fail to address what may be their most critical off-balance sheet asset-their volunteers. Your risk management program is incomplete unless you address the issue of volunteer engagement and motivation.

Volunteers have passion, dedication, and reliability. They help you leverage your resources. They are a key part of your organization’s DNA and serve on your front lines in a caring and warm manner. And, they are an effective source of free advertising in your community. How many current staff started out as volunteers?

So the question is, while you are so busy during this challenging environment, with so many people and issues pulling on you in every direction, how are you treating this key asset? This is something a leader cannot delegate others.

One great idea is to follow the practice of two very successful entrepreneurs who figured this out early on in their company’s history.  Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett devised an active management style that they called management by walking around (MBWA).

It works. I know because in my prior life as a leader I traveled a great deal (I usually reached 1K status with United by May). Everyone loves when the leader takes a little time to show interest in what is happening around the office and to personally “touch” everyone in some meaningful way.

Try it; they’ll love it…and you will too.