All of us take risks in our lives – everyday. Some are seemingly small (crossing the street) and some require much more courage (being the lone outspoken voice in a small group of relative strangers). And many of us have taken great risks without even thinking of them as risks – we’ve opened our hearts and shared our most vulnerable selves to loved ones, we’ve welcomed children into our families, we’ve shared our worst secrets with our best friends. We don’t think about these as risks; they are truly part of our everyday lives.
More often than not, nonprofits don’t necessarily consider taking risks. With so little resources and so many staff members over capacity, it is not always prudent to take risks. But what if nonprofits pushed themselves a bit – to consider risks, to think bigger, to try new things? An organization can start with baby steps: it could hire a team member who thinks and works differently, and who will bring a completely contrasting lens to the programmatic work taking place every day. An organization can assign a different staff member at group meetings to play the role of antagonist (in other words, encourage a team member to ask, “Why? Is there another way that we could look at this?”) By taking these small steps, they won’t seem like risks. Rather, they will become integrated into the culture of the organization’s daily activities.