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Crisis planning: helping you to prepare your charity clients for the worst

By its very nature, a crisis is typically unforeseen, and may also be unavoidable, but forward planning and appropriate crisis management advice can mean the difference between closed for business and business as usual.

crisis planning flow chart

Why your clients may need crisis management advice

Charities are as likely as any other organisation to suffer a major operational crisis at any time. Almost a third of charities say they have no crisis management plan in place at all.

Expert crisis planning and strategies for business continuity can be surprisingly simple to implement – especially when your charity clients can get expert advice on risk management and insurance protection, with the help of Ecclesiastical. This kind of value-added service will be seen as a real positive advantage of your brokerage by charity clients.

As David Britton, Charity Insurance Director at Ecclesiastical, comments: “A level of crisis management cover is included in our charity insurance as standard – but each charity having a prepared strategy is really important. It’s about looking at the continuity planning and thinking about what the possible fallout could be from a crisis.”

crisis planning pie chartcrisis planning percentage

Charity Trustee Survey 2016

To help provide a deeper understanding of charity attitudes to crisis management, Ecclesiastical sponsored a nationwide survey of charity trustees by Third Sector Insight (“Charity trustees and risk management: Planning for the unforeseen”, March 2016).

Among the surveyed trustees, the most frequent crises previously experienced were a decline in funding and donations (reported by 82% of respondents), and damage to reputation due to an unforeseen incident (41%).

However, not all causes of crisis are external. Worryingly, 32% said they had experienced a crisis involving fraud, either by charity employees, a manager or a trustee. The impact of fraud on a charity, particularly a smaller one, can be disastrous. It may have a damaging effect on finances, and can lead to reduced trust from supporters, donors, funders, beneficiaries, employees and the wider public. Put simply, the fall-out from fraud can seriously impair a charity’s reputation and its future fundraising potential.

Your charity clients’ responsibilities

A charity’s trustees have a responsibility to manage and mitigate the risk of crisis events arising – but if they do happen, it’s important they are handled swiftly, sensitively and responsibly.

It’s also vital to have a considered communications and PR strategy during a crisis. How a charity organisation responds and communicates can determine whether the crisis is resolved quickly as a minor setback – or escalates out of control to become a disaster. For example, it may be helpful to prepare standard templates for press statements and website updates, adaptable for a range of possible crisis situations.

Although most charities surveyed had a crisis management plan in place, nearly a third (32%) said they did not. The main reason given was a lack of resources (52%) but a worrying 19% of charities without a crisis management plan felt that they did not need one.

Ineffective (or absent) crisis management is potentially damaging for both a charity and its trustees. As part of a responsible risk management process, every charity needs a crisis management plan, setting out the agreed actions required to resolve a crisis and restore normal operations.

How can Ecclesiastical help you and your clients?

If your charity clients don’t have a crisis management plan in place, Ecclesiastical can advise on practical steps to implement one, giving you an advantage over other brokers.

We can also help them review and update an old plan to reflect today’s changing risks.

Talk to our broker support team today to see how we can help your charity clients be fully prepared for when a crisis comes.

To download the Third Sector ‘Planning for the unforeseen’ report please visit Third Sector Insight.

David Britton - By David Britton, Charity Director

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Ecclesiastical Insurance Group plc (EIG) Reg No 1718196. Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc (EIO) Reg No 24869. Ecclesiastical Life Ltd (ELL) Reg No 243111. Ecclesiastical Financial Advisory Services Ltd (EFAS) Reg No 2046087. Ecclesiastical Underwriting Management Ltd (EUML) Reg No 2368571. E.I.O. Trustees Ltd Reg No 941199. EdenTree Investment Management Ltd (EIM) Reg No 2519319. All companies are registered in England at Beaufort House, Brunswick Road, Gloucester GL1 1JZ. EIO and ELL are authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Firm Reference Number 113848 (EIO) and 110318 (ELL). EFAS and EIM are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Firm Reference Number 126123 (EFAS) and 527473 (EIM). EUML is an appointed representative of EIO who is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Firm Reference Number 402228.