According to the Home Office, nearly one in five businesses suffers a major disruption every five years. Charities are no different, subject to much the same risks of internal system failures, or risks from outside, like floods and fires. 

A major disruption can have a hugely damaging impact on your operations, finances, reputation and relationship with your service users if not dealt with in a considered, confident manner. In fact, a lot of organisations affected by an such an event struggle to ever fully recover, with many failing within the following year.

Continuity planning is about identifying the parts of your organisation that you can’t function without – the information, premises, equipment and people – and considering how you would minimise the impact of any of these being suddenly unavailable to you in the event of a major unexpected disruption. 

With a business continuity plan in place, you’ll be better prepared for anything fate may throw at you, allowing you to get back on your feet in the shortest possible time. Don’t forget, it’s much easier to objectively consider all the issues surrounding a potential crisis before it happens, rather than when it happens.

Top ten tips

  1. Plan for the effects of an accident, not the cause. At the time of crisis, what happens may well be more important than what causes it.
  2. Remember that prevention is better than cure – test systems, exercise plans and rehearse the people involved on a periodic basis. Regularly review your plans to ensure they’re still relevant and up to date.
  3. Back up data regularly and store copies off-site in a secure place. Practise restoring the data in an IT system outside of your own to ensure that it works. Some insurers will provide access to online IT data back-up and recovery services (check with your broker or insurance provider)
  4. Ensure that important paper documents, such as contracts and employee information, are protected. Make copies and use fire-resistant and waterproof storage.
  5. Keep a list of contact details for your staff, customers, suppliers and insurance broker off-site so that you can contact them if you don’t have access to your usual premises. Review these regularly.
  6. Check what your insurances cover and what they don’t. Keep copies of the relevant policies off-site so that you know immediately what to do in the event of an incident. 
  7. Have an emergency pack that includes your business recovery plan and key telephone numbers, as well as a first aid kit, torch, spare keys, cash, credit card, stationery etc.
  8. Make arrangements for where you could establish a temporary base in case you’re unable to operate out of your usual premises. 
  9. Make an inventory of equipment, materials, products and any other assets your cause owns. This will make it easier to work out losses after an incident. Perhaps consider making a walkthrough video of your premises or taking photos annually.
  10. Use the log keeping, creating a crisis team and situation reporting templates available in the Knowledge Library to outline your processes in the event of a major disruption. 

Further continuity planning support

At Aviva we’re proud to work closely with Business in the Community, who have created a valuable guide for small organisations to help prepare for and guard against the risk of events such as a cyber-attacks, floods and civil unrest.

Download the ‘Would you be ready?’ guide 

Download the HM Government Business Continuity Management Toolkit