Podcast 028: All About Nonprofit Insurance, with Peter Persuitti of Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.


Peter Persuitti is well-known in the nonprofit sector. He currently leads the global religious and nonprofit practice at Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. — one of the largest insurance brokerages in the world. Peter, however, has engaged in the sector in many other roles, including as a dean, foundation executive, school administrator and teacher, and the founder of a school. During this interview I ask Peter about insurance for nonprofits and foundations, his views of the future of the sector, and numerous other issues. You can find Peter on LinkedIn.


Peter, I think you’ve been working with nonprofits relating to insurance for more than two decades. During that time I know you’ve seen various nonprofit support organizations adopt principles and practices that instruct nonprofits to use risk management. Why do you think organizations like Independent Sector, the Standards for Excellence Institute, and various state organizations have determined that risk management is a best practice for nonprofits? [1:04]

Peter, I emphasize that insurance and risk management are not synonymous. How do you distinguish between the two when talking to nonprofits? [3:25]

You currently run Arthur Gallagher’s global religious and nonprofit group. I know that Gallagher works with more than 24,000 nonprofits. I’m betting that there’s not a one-size-fits-all prescription for insurance or risk management. How do you divide that mass of nonprofits into subdivisions to talk about different sorts of nonprofits? [7:10]

I’d like to focus for a moment on religious nonprofits, which I know is a particular focus on yours. These might include Catholic dioceses and other denominational groupings. What important coverage areas are most consistently neglected by established religious nonprofits? [11:25]

What about foundations? Is it fair to say that there are certain sorts of coverage that an “average” private foundation might need that they often don’t know about? [17:55]

What about startup and emerging nonprofits, Peter? For example, what are the most important basic elements of coverage for a young human services nonprofit to have? [19:20]

I know that Gallagher provides substantial additional support for its nonprofit insurance customers. How do you help your nonprofit customers with risk management? [21:15]

You bring an enormous amount of resources to bear, but what about the smaller nonprofit — is Gallagher out of their league? [27:46]

Nonprofits are notoriously underfunded and understaffed. How do you make the case that a nonprofit should devote some of its resources to insurance, and some amount of resources to other aspects of risk management? [31:15]

You and I have discussed before that risk management can run into silos and turf wars within even smaller organizations. During that discussion, you said that if you had to choose between a nonprofit having a risk manager or a risk-management mindset, the choice would be clear. Can you elaborate on that? [37:30]

In answering that question, what would you say are two or three core aspects of a “risk management mindset”? [41:20]

I was wondering if you could give us a quick story or two that exemplifies the need for insurance or risk management. I don’t want you to mention actual customers, but I’m sure that you’ve seen a lot of circumstances in which insurance or risk management has saved the day or the lack of insurance or the lack of a risk management process has been a disaster. [44:20]

Peter, if you could project out 3 to 5 years and serve as an oracle for us for a moment, what you see as emerging trends in the nonprofit sector that will impact insurance and risk management? [51:55]

What would you advise a nimble, forward thinking nonprofit to do now in order to prepare for those trends? [58:20]


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