Protecting the future of your charity

Tuesday, 9 June 2015 - 10:49am

If disaster strikes your organisation, the difference between survival and going under often hinges on one factor: preparation. Tim Wiltshire of Access Insurance looks at the importance of business continuity planning.

Photograph: Chris Christian (Flickr)

Picture this. You’re the director of a homelessness charity and you receive a call from one of your managers with the news that the hostel is being evacuated due to a major fire.

Will you and your management team know what to do?

Without prior planning, you may leave your charity open to financial disaster, especially if you are forced to close operations for a period of time. Without a proper plan to cope with a disaster situation, your charity may face legal action from service users or employees claiming negligence.

The best way to prevent a disaster from putting the future of your organisation at risk is to have a proper business continuity plan in place:

  • Define potential risks
  • Determine how those risks will affect operations
  • Implement safeguards and procedures designed to mitigate those risks
  • Test that those procedures work
  • Review the process to ensure it is up to date.

I would suggest starting the process by establishing a planning team to develop the plan. Typical goals of your plan should include:

  • Protecting the safety of employees, service users, visitors, contractors and others at risk from hazards at the premises
  • Maintaining your services by minimising interruptions or disruptions of operations
  • Protecting the charity’s assets and electronic information
  • Preventing environmental contamination
  • Protecting your organisation’s brand, image and reputation.

The planning process should take an ‘all hazards’ approach. The probability that a specific hazard will impact your organisation is hard to determine, which is why it is important to consider many different threats and hazards and the likelihood they will occur. An impact analysis can predict the consequences of an interruption and give you a good indication of how your operations would be affected in the event you were forced to temporarily close.

Implementing the plan means more than simply exercising it during an emergency. It means acting on recommendations made during the hazard analysis, integrating the plan into the charity’s operations, training employees and evaluating the plan on an ongoing basis.

It is important to conduct an audit of the entire plan at least once a year to help identify any factors that may necessitate changes, such as updated regulations or new hazards.

I will be attending Homeless Link's annual conference next month armed with a raft of materials to help you with business continuity planning, evacuation plans, disaster recovery planning and putting appropriate business interruption insurance in place.

As Homeless Link’s appointed broker and charity sector specialists, offering an automatic 20% discount to all Homeless Link members, Access Insurance assists homelessness organisations with all areas of risk management and insurance. Business interruption is the area of insurance where I most regularly find gaps in cover.

I look forward to meeting you at the conference. If you are unable to attend please feel free to contact me on 020 8651 7422 or tim.wiltshire@accessinsurance.co.uk.

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Tim Wiltshire

Senior Insurance Broker, Access Insurance

Tim is a senior insurance broker for for Access Insurance, the independent insurance specialist for the third sector. 

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