Where to begin in your preparedness journey?
“Preparedness, when properly pursued, is a way of life, not a sudden, spectacular program.”
– Spencer W. Kimball
Take steps to prepare your nonprofit for an emergency with the template and workbook below. Information and tips for how to better prepare your staff in the event of an emergency is also provided.
Please note the referenced materials are meant as general preparedness tools and are not encompassing for all the unique needs of every organization. It is therefore recommended that organizations consider developing preparedness and continuity teams among their staff.
The First Step: The Continuity Plan
A business continuity plan will allow you to analyze and understand which products and services are critical to your business operations. It will introduce you to the risks and hazards to which your business may be vulnerable. Based on this information, you can develop strategies to ensure that your business can quickly recover and continue operating through any type of disruption.
Calgary Emergency Management Agency: A Business Continuity Handbook (for use with above template)
Calgary Emergency Management Agency: Is Your Nonprofit Prepared? (insert to above template)
Test Your Plan
It is recommended that you test your plan regularly to ensure it captures your organization’s needs. Developing tests that capture your organization’s unique circumstances will provide a comprehensive look at the effectiveness of your plan. For information on developing your own plan see “General Exercise Information and Tips”.
Considerations for Nonprofits
Consider determining how volunteers may be used to support your agency in times of disaster.
There are several areas in which nonprofits are especially vulnerable to risk and crisis. Significant deficits can be caused by economic downturns or the unexpected loss of a major funder.
Considerations for Board Members
The board of directors has overall responsibility for the organization and must provide oversight and guidance to management throughout the crisis.
An effective response to a crisis will require prompt, decisive action, effective communication and teamwork between the CEO and the board. The CEO and management team have primary responsibility for responding to sudden crises and implementing the company’s business continuity plan. The role of directors is to oversee these efforts and satisfy themselves that the CEO has things under control.
General Principles of Continuity Planning
Modest planning is a reasonable goal.
A modest degree of planning is a reasonable expectation. This is why it is necessary to focus on principal activities and strategies rather than voluminous detail and intimidating complexity.
View planning as a continuous process rather than a product.
The process is far more important than the plan. The process results in sharing information, new or stronger linkages; education of all stakeholders to each other’s capabilities; resources and concerns; a transition from a focus of danger to a focus on actions,
Use existing networks, structures, organizations and arrangements before creating new ones.
Ad hoc arrangements tend to be less resilient and effective than existing ones.
Effective arrangements provide for the most appropriate response rather than the fastest.
Provide a framework that is flexible to the needs of the event and within which managers have the flexibility to tailor collective response.
Educate your stakeholders about the existence of the plans.
Let them know what they can expect from collective response and what they will have to do for themselves.
Keep plans general and avoid too much detail.
Detailed plans are less effective because no disaster turns out exactly as expected; much of the detail is inappropriate and only serves to hinder.