The holidays bring good cheer and good intentions from people from all walks of life – many use this time as a way to give back to their community and make a difference, often by volunteering for a nonprofit like your soup kitchen. As a result, you may be blessed with greater numbers of volunteers willing to sacrifice their time for the greater good. Everybody wins – you, those in need, and the volunteers.
But at the same time, you need to know what risks you face taking on additional volunteer helpers and greater numbers of people in need as the cold sets in. That’s why we’ve compiled some tips you may not have considered when it comes to protecting your soup kitchen from unforeseen hazards that can prevent you from feeding the hungry.
Protecting Your Volunteers from Injury with Workers’ Comp Insurance
In a bad economy, you may find your soup kitchen with an influx of volunteer helpers and people in need. Your volunteers and visitors might not be the only ones in a tough spot because of the economy, though – perhaps your soup kitchen has come to rely more and more on pro bono work as a result of difficult times, too.
If this is the case, you can’t afford the heap of medical bills that would accompany an injury to one of your staff. Scalds from hot soup, burns from food just out of the oven, and even back strains from lifting heavy boxes can trigger thousands of dollars in medical bills.
Luckily, Workers’ Compensation Insurance can cover those expenses – and even if you don’t pay the people who work in your kitchen or dining room, your state may require you to carry this coverage to protect their on-the-job health. If you haven’t updated your Workers’ Comp policy in a while (or never realized you needed one), check in with an insureon agent to determine what your needs are.
Protecting Your Board with Directors and Officers Insurance
Nonprofit organizations like your soup kitchen face the risk of lawsuits alleging misappropriated funds. You may remember hearing about the founder of a foster care provider accused of using more than $500,000 on gambling and strip clubs over the summer. The founder, James McCloy, allegedly used the foundation’s funds to pay for divorce settlement costs as well as other personal expenses.
Situations like this serve as a reminder for nonprofits to keep their books transparent. One way you can make sure that your organization isn’t hit with a lawsuit is to ensure your records are well organized and available for any potential audits. Your board should include at least one person familiar with financial and tax matters as they relate to nonprofit organizations to prevent the bigger problems proactively.
And if you are in a position where a lawsuit is filed against you – even if it’s frivolous – you can protect yourself from financial liability by carrying Directors & Officers Insurance (also known as D&O). With D&O in place, your board members won’t have to dip into their personal funds to defend themselves against any lawsuits alleging misconduct.
If you’re just getting your nonprofit up and running, take a look at the article “5 Things to Know Before Buying Insurance for Your Nonprofit Organization.” It’s a great starting point for nonprofit directors who are new to the insurance world.