Years ago I spent a week on Mt. Rainier training for a summit expedition on Mt. Everest. Before my week of training, along the journey to the lodge, our group stopped at the Whittaker Mountaineering headquarters. We were in luck to spend time with Jim and his son, Peter. Poignantly and auspiciously, only to find out that the day before two men had died on the same route our team was to take to Ingraham Flats and the Rainier summit.
Our group became somber and focused. Jim shared his stories and talked to us about risk. Jim Whittaker, the first American man to summit in 1963, shared with us more about living life than I would have ever imagined. His story and short documentary, A Life Well Lived & 50 Years of Everest, is an inspiration to us all to go out and be in nature, take risks, learn to move out of your comfort zones and find your own personal cathedrals.
Along the route to Ingraham Flats, I practiced belay and self-arrest with an ice axe throwing myself down a mountain side. I learned to trust my team to lower me into a 400 ft drop into a blue ice crevasse and bring me up, only to have me learn how to bring up a 200 pound man using ropes and the Z Pulley System for crevasse rescue. After all the difficult training, I can’t tell you how exhilarated I was to see my first Northern Lights and to make it to the summit of Mt. Rainer. I tell this story to remind myself that moving out of my comfort zone set me on a path of adventure, friendship, love of the mountains and always nature.
How does your organization employ risk management strategies? How resilient will your nonprofit organization fair in economic and environmental crisis? Have you done a risk assessment that covers board governance and leadership; operational infrastructure; programming and services; marketing and social media presence; and developmental planning, including grants, fundraising, events and volunteer engagement? Taking the time to prepare, train and pivot when needed to address challenges and embrace opportunities will help your nonprofit organization thrive and find increased success in delivering on its mission.