As a charity or not-for-profit organisation, it’s important that you take whatever steps are necessary to protect your assets. Let’s look at what assets you might have, why they might be at risk and what should you consider doing to protect them…
As a community-minded and no doubt trusting person, you’re more likely than most to underestimate the risk posed by employee or volunteer fraud. Yet workplace theft in the UK presents a serious threat to organisations – including, sadly, those in the charity sector – costing billions of pounds every year.
A solid reference procedure is your first line of defence. All new employees should be subject to reference checks, as well as any volunteers who are involved with cash handling, supervisory and management responsibilities or access to sensitive systems (like stock, IT or accounts). You should look for written references from employers, schools or a professional person, covering at least the previous two-year period (with no gaps), in order to confirm the honesty of the person. Please see a guide to handling cash safely.
It’s also vital that your organisation has a system of internal controls and checks that will minimise risk and help detect employee fraud. These include measures surrounding audit, cheque issuing, banking, stock control and computer security, among others.
A risk assessment should be carried out for any fundraising event, taking into account cash handling arrangements, security measures and safety of the fund collector. An example might be regularly removing takings during the event and finding a secure place to count takings before banking.
And don’t forget, if your fundraising activity includes collecting in the street or door-to-door, a licence is required from your local authority.
Do you own or rent a building space? Have you considered what protection you need against loss from fire, flood or general building maintenance? Please see a link to helping with Maintenance Regimes and Managing Contractors
Insurance isn’t an alternative to good risk management. Although it might seem obvious, remember general wear and tear is excluded from all insurance contracts and claims can be rejected on the basis that damage was caused by poor maintenance. So, it’s important to make time for regular and systematic building inspections to help identify any problems promptly. Look for weak spots in your building’s security, check for signs of water leaks and ensure the servicing of heating, gas and electrical items are maintained.
One of the most significant causes of fires in the workplace is faulty electrical wiring – Don’t forget you may be responsible for the safety of the wiring and electrical installations in your charity’s offices or premises. We offer a range of detailed guidance on fire risk, electrical safety and electrical testing here. Please see a guide for Tree Management
Computer security measures should always be determined by considering the impact of possible computer crime – how would your everyday activities be affected by a loss of data? Would your fundraising potential be reduced? Would safety and security issues arise if your records are accessed?
To protect against loss of data, backups should be undertaken daily with discs stored off-site. Other steps to take include periodic testing of your backup to ensure viability, while computers should not be left unattended and encryption and secure passwords should always be used. Read more in our article on cyber fraud and crime.
If any employees drive for your charity or organisation, don’t forget that you as an employer are legally responsible for them while they’re driving for work. In addition, trustees, employees and volunteers who use their own vehicles must make sure that their insurance covers them while they are on business for your charity or organisation.
Free risk management guidance
While you’ll find lots of tips on how to reduce your risks within the Knowledge Library, you can also access a wide range of services, through Aviva Risk Management Solutions, completely free of charge.
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We also have access to a range of products and services – available at discounted prices for Aviva customers – helping to create an environment with reduced risk. From fire to escape of water, security to motor, health and safety to business resilience – all our partners are well established with a pedigree in the risk management sector. https://www.aviva.co.uk/risksolutions/specialistpartners/