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March 28, 2011 / Brett Cohrs

Checklists & Nonprofit Insurance

I love this story from Claims Journal about how a Johns Hopkins safety checklist program nearly eliminated blood infections.*

Most of my clients aren’t hospitals or medical facilities, but all organizations have exposures to risk. And many organizations have simple routines they could put into place to greatly reduce the potential for claims.  A checklist might have helped prevent a recent tragedy on a children’s train ride in South Carolina.

Officer Keefer in Herman Wouk’s classic The Caine Mutiny expressed it a little roughly regarding the Navy and it’s breaking down every action into simple, easy steps: “The geniuses dumb it down for any moron to do.”

Even we in the insurance business have checklists to review with our clients: a list of coverages that might pertain to the client’s business. It would save insurance agents a world of hurt to go through these with each and every client.

Regarding nonprofit risk management, what kind of checklists might be good to have in place? Let me make some suggestions (most of which are  obvious). I’ll leave the details up to you:

  1. Client intake procedures
  2. Night time bed check for a group or care home
  3. Daily maintenance checklist, to confirm site safety
  4. Vehicle maintenance checklist
  5. Continuing education for your staff and volunteers
  6. Administrative/accounting checklists
  7. Special event and fundraiser to-do lists.
  8. Donor relations follow up items

Those are just a few to get your mind going.  Just know that with potential for high turnover or high volunteer participation, dumbed down checklists could be the most vital element to insuring that your tasks get done well and safely.

What other lists have you implemented in your organization? How have they helped?

*Since starting this article, I’ve picked up The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande.  His book’s first chapter handles the creation of the checklist that the Johns Hopkins story is based on.


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