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Help Sheet

The main areas of risk for not-for-profit organisations

Every not-for-profit organisation faces a certain amount of risk, whether it's ensuring the health and wellbeing of its volunteers or protecting its property or premises.

Risks come in all shapes and sizes but it's useful to group them under topic headings so that they can be assessed and prioritised.

While there are many differing risks the focus of this help sheet is to look at those that could end in some form of civil or criminal court action.

Don't start and stop with this help sheet. You need to take a broad view in identifying and compiling a list of hazards. Some of the ways you can identify risks include:

You can also keep on top of identifying workplace hazards - which are, remember, only part of the risk picture - by regularly checking for updates, bulletins or examples of risk issues from:

You will need to constantly check to see that you comply with ALL relevant legislation, guidelines and regulations - whether they are federal, state or local government.

Below is a list of risks that may affect many not-for-profit organisations. As we said, this list isn't intended to be exhaustive - there are an infinite number of risks involved with each different sector and individual organisation - but these are the areas where the largest number of groups have had trouble in the past.

If you go over the list carefully it should prompt you to think of at least some potential risks involving your own organisation that need to be addressed.

Physical risks

It's your responsibility to make your organisation into a safe environment for anybody (staff, volunteers, members, players, supporters, clients, patients, contractors, visitors) who's likely to come into contact with it (and that doesn't mean just people who have permission to enter).

A key point here is to make sure that you inspect your facilities, equipment and premises regularly.


If your organisation works with animals,



Food and drink



(See also Environmental Risks, below).

Professional risks

It's your responsibility to see that nobody suffers through relying on your work.

Environmental Risks

It's your responsibility to see that your operations are safe under all foreseeable circumstances. As Worksafe puts it, what you would warn a child about if they visited you?

Employee risks

You are responsible for protecting your staff and volunteers.

Some laws regulate how you deal with workplace safety - check with the relevant agency (Google "workcover" or "workplace standards") in your state.

Financial risks

You are responsible for protecting the assets of your organisation and for paying your liabilities.


You are responsible for protecting the organisation and other people against crimes as well as accidents.


You are responsible for working within the law.

In all of these areas you should review your procedures to see whether you have done everything reasonable to avert any foreseeable problem.

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