Business continuity planning for community-based organisations

Do you know if you can keep supporting your clients and community during a disaster?

When disaster hits, whether it’s a storm, cyber-attack, terrorism, bushfire, flooding or a cyclone, community-based organisations (CBOs) should have a business continuity plan in place so they can keep supporting their clients and their community during and after the disaster. CSIA is hosting a number of workshops at various locations to support you and your team to work through real-world scenarios and build the foundations of your business continuity plan. But why is this important?

The benefits of having a plan

Disasters impact on CBOs as much as the community, even though you will have to deliver support and services during this time. There are a number of reasons why your CBO should take the time to develop a business continuity plan.

To keep operations going when disaster strikes

As CBOs may be impacted by disasters at the same time they’re responding to community needs, it is important for you to be proactive in planning for business continuity. Having a plan in place to help your organisation operate during the crisis enables you and your team to focus on responding to the community.

Support your leadership

A business continuity plan will support you as you lead your organisation through responding to the disaster. In a time of crisis it will be smoother for you to have some set processes and operational activities that are ready to be executed so you can focus on the disaster at hand and the unknowns that brings to any plan. During a disaster or crisis, your teams, staff, volunteers and the community will be looking to you to for guidance, reassurance and to show them the way.

Assist your staff

In times of disaster, your staff will not only be supporting your clients and community but will also be responding to the disaster themselves. Some may be unable to come to work because of access, or because they need to look after their families and homes. A good business continuity plan means you will be able to support staff to respond and know who is available to keep your organisation running.

Brand and reputation management

During a crisis, the media and other outlets turn to the local community-based organisations for updates and comments. How you respond to the media and through interviews will impact how the community views your organisation. Knowing who your spokespeople will be, what information you will share, even how you collate data will help you be professional and build on your strong brand and reputation.

Reduced stress during a crisis

Any disaster or crisis is extremely stressful. When you have a clear plan that you and your team have access to, everyone is working to the same process. It reduces mistakes, confusion and most importantly stress. Importantly, you start responding to the disaster or crisis from a position of knowledge rather than scrambling to work out what you need to do.

Be prepared for anything

There is nothing worse than being in the middle of a disaster and realise if you had just thought about it before you would be prepared for this moment. For example, where do you keep your high visibility vests, petrol for the generator that will keep the lights on in your community shelter or knowing how you will communicate with your team. Not having everyone’s number can add time to your process that could have been spent helping sandbag a local business, make sandwiches or even provide counselling to a distraught family.

What you can do

Finding the right disaster planning resource or tool for your community-based organisation can be daunting. CSIA worked with a number of organisation to develop a disaster management and recovery toolkit and resources to guide you. Currently this project is running workshops to support you to use the toolkit and build a foundation you can take back to your organisation.

The workshops will be led by a facilitator and you will work through three real-world scenarios (bushfire, sudden storm and cyber-attack). These are half-day sessions for board members, CEOs, executive teams, senior managers, operations managers and frontline workers.

Once the workshops are complete, the project will consider how to establish peer-to-peer networks to support ongoing business continuity planning in your region.

The Disaster Management and Recovery toolkit and supporting resources were developed thanks to funding from the Queensland Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors.