Issue 1: Disaster recovery

The pandemic has been felt on varying levels across the charity sector, with many finding themselves with a different workload and resources than before.
disaster recovery

Issue 1: Disaster recovery

The pandemic has affected us all on a personal level – this has also been felt on varying levels across the charity sector, with many finding themselves with a different workload and resources than before. Here’s some food for thought.

What’s in this issue:

  1. 2 things you need in uncertain times | Andy Strajnic from Trust Advice CIC
  2. Review your insurance | Access Insurance Services
  3. Build resilience through clear communication
  4. Prepare for future and recurring risks | Access Insurance Services

2 things you need in uncertain times


Late last year the Charity Commission published some research on the impact of Covid 19 on the charity sector. [1]

It shows that the vast majority of the 170000 UK charities experienced a negative impact from Covid (90%) and a majority experienced negative financial impact (60%).

The UK charity sector is very diverse with many very small charities led entirely by their trustees to some very large international ones with hundreds and thousands of staff.

Remarkably there have not been any large scale closures of charities and many have adapted fast to the changes in the last two years.

In our work with charities we have seen so many trustees in particular having had to compensate and do the work of staff who are furloughed and face constant governance and financial decisions.

I would call the last year ‘The year of the trustee’.

It’s one thing to respond to a crisis and a challenge and quite another to rebuild and recover well.

We have delivered some webinars and training on disaster recovery for charities for that very reason.

Charities have been in disaster mode and now it’s time to recover!

There is widespread uncertainty still and widespread tiredness from hard work and emotional stress and the need for governance doesn’t go away.

Charities know that their clients and beneficiaries rely on them and so in many senses, they must carry on the work or people and services will suffer but we know we need to recover and rest.

So where does all this leave the average charity?

I think the reason charities have kept going is that they are Vision and Value led first and foremost. I believe these two factors will make all the difference to our work;

1. Vision

People will rally around a vision and bust their guts for it.

Keep the main reason you do what you do and how that is needed VERY clear to trustees, staff and volunteers.

Tell the story of why you need to exist regularly.

Vision will get you through a great deal and telling the story over and over will unify, strengthen and encourage everyone to keep going.

It’s the fuel and the food of your work and just like food and fuel, you need to regularly refill on Vision.

2. Values

I often ask the charities we support what their values are. Many don’t know or have never articulated them.

I always wish there was more opportunity and time to really work with charities to identify and solidify values.

The reason for that is that the charity’s values will be the ‘modus operandi’ or ‘the way we do things around here’, spoken or unspoken.

When it is the outspoken measure or litmus test for all you do it becomes the guide in your budget, the guide in your interviews for trustees and staff, the guide for your volunteers, the guide for your promotion and marketing. Being clear about your values will be the difference between the life or the slow death of your charity.

In Summary

To conclude then, uncertain times could be here to stay for a while.

Governing a charity well in uncertainty will take us all knowing our story, our reason for existence, well and communicating that to all stakeholders. The human heart responds to vision, period.

Also being certain of your values and building them into all we do – and therefore deciding what we don’t also do, will become a force that will guide you and those in the charity through the greatest challenges.

Brene Brown has done some excellent work on this topic, I highly recommend checking her resources out[2].

We also deliver training to all size charities which might help unify and create a stronger outlook for your charity.

At the end of the Charity commissions research on the impact on Covid they add this encouragement which I think summarizes the points above well.‘Ensure you are always led by your charity’s purposes, and the best interests of those you exist to serve. Don’t avoid or delay tough decisions, but know that how you make them – how you behave and communicate along the way – can be as important as what action you choose.’ [3]




Review your insurance


After the last 2 years, not-for-profits are still re-evaluating how things are done, adapting to flexible working and looking for sustainable and efficient ways to operate. These changes have influenced decision-makers regarding insurance, and here are few things we can learn.

Thinking of cutting costs?

Some charities are reviewing costs and seeking leaner insurance programmes that provide the essential cover they need; without some of the optional cover they might have opted to purchase before the pandemic.

However, charities should be careful when considering dropping covers to cut costs as there could be implications.

For example, trustee and professional indemnity cover work on a ‘claims made’ basis – a claim is made on the policy currently in force (not on the policy in force when the incident happened).

Removing this cover removes protection for all the previous years covered by the policy.

Working remotely?

Having a remote workforce means charities will want to review their insurance for office equipment, possibly widening the cover to include risks such as theft of laptops from employees’ homes.


Similarly, if their insurance covers the running of the events and equipment hire, they will want to review whether the event will proceed and whether cover is required.

Adapting operations

Charity operations are changing; for example, many smaller local charities have expanded their work in the community or shifted their operations to a new focus.

These changes in risk should be reflected with adequate insurance programmes.

Sharing changes with your insurer

Essential information which determines the cost of a policy should be shared with insurers as soon as possible. This includes projected income, wage roll figures, occupancy of buildings and any change in activities.

At Access, we can review and assess the suitability of your insurance and whether the insurer can provide any flexibility.

Build resilience through clear communication

It’s not possible for you to control the pandemic, but it is possible for you to help ease the stress your employees, clients and volunteers may be experiencing.

In these uncertain times, it’s imperative that you clearly communicate your plans as frequently as possible.

  • Be open with stakeholders about management decisions and ask for suggestions to rectify problems.
  • Provide as much information as possible about the pandemic.
  • Communicate the future of the organisation with stakeholders often – in meetings, on the website, in newsletters and in blogs.
  • Be empathetic in your communications.

Additionally, try to give as much notice as possible if your organisation plans to make significant operational changes, including shutting down operations or moving to remote delivery.

Prepare for future and recurring risks


Similar to conducting a risk assessment for planning to reopen following previous lockdowns, your organisation should conduct a risk assessment in preparation for a re-emergence of COVID-19 cases.

While the complexity of risk assessments will differ from charity to charity, they typically involve the following steps:

Identifying hazards

Consider your own facilities and organisation. When identifying hazards, it’s a good idea to perform a walk-through of premises and consider high-risk areas.

Check any high-risk individuals or vulnerable populations you may work with. Go through your volunteer or client journey step by step to identify risks that stakeholders are exposed to.

Charities need to think critically about their operations to minimise risks to others.

Assessing risks

Once you have identified the risks, you must analyse them to determine their potential consequences. For each risk you’ll want to determine:

  • How likely is this particular risk to occur?
  • What are the ramifications should this risk occur?

When analysing your risks, consider potential financial losses, compliance requirements, people’s safety, disruptions, reputational harm and other consequences.

Controlling risks

With a sense of what the threats to your charity are, you can then consider ways to address them. There are a variety of methods charities can use to manage their risks, including:

  • Risk avoidance is when an organisation eliminates certain hazards, activities and exposures from their operations altogether.
  • Risk control involves preventive action.
  • Risk transfer is when an organisation transfers its exposures to a third party, such as an insurer.

For preparing for a current or future wave of the coronavirus, control measures could include cleaning protocols, flexible working and personal protective equipment (PPE) usage.

Monitoring the results

Risk management is an evolving, continuous process.

Once you’ve implemented a risk management solution, you’ll want to monitor its effectiveness and reassess.

Remember, the COVID-19 pandemic and guidance has changed often. Your charity should be prepared to take action at short notice.


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