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Strategic Fund Development: Building Profitable Relationships That Last, Third Edition by Simone P. Joyaux

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Really Important Musings

And now some final thoughts, mini-musings that are really important.

Risk or Gamble

Was it National Public Radio or some article somewhere? I don’t remember where, but I do remember what: There’s a difference between a risk and a gamble; a really big difference.

A risk is something you can back out of.

A gamble … no way out.

The military talks about risks and gambles regularly.

But how can we apply risks and gambles to the operation of the nonprofit/NGO sector? What is the application in your organization? How might we apply risks or gambles to strategic planning and decision-making?

For example:

  • Use strategic planning processes to explore risks and gambles. Incorporate risk ratings for the strategies in your plans.
  • Define criteria for risking and gambling. Then use these criteria to evaluate strategies. Keep the risky strategies and abandon the gambles.
  • Define the moment when risks might cross the line into gambles. Pull the plug prior to crossing the line.
  • Craft a series of questions—a checklist—to monitor risks. And don’t forget to use the checklist.
  • Create a risk rating system (e.g., based on points or percentages). Rate the risks you choose.
  • Of course, host regular staff and board conversations to explore the concepts of risks and gambles. Build an organizational culture capable of exploring and examining, monitoring and measuring risk.

Taking Risks—and Failing

Gambles are bad. Risks are good if you can extricate yourself without too much damage. ...

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