Planning for emergencies

What do natural disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes and droughts have to do with nonprofit accounting and consulting? All of these things remind us of how much of life is beyond our control. And while we don’t have hurricanes or earthquakes in North Texas, your organization may be affected by power outage, fire or flooding. So, here are a few tips on being prepared and maintaining productivity in case of unexpected interruptions.

–         Electronic record keeping – Many transactions occur online such as banking and filing tax forms. For documents that pre-date electronic records, take some time to scan them. (See my post about document retention regarding timing.) And, be sure that you back up files regularly. Keep a set of back up files in a location separate from your office.

–         Extra copies – If you don’t scan your documents, or until you do, extra copies need to be kept in a separate location. At a minimum, organizations need to have back-up copies of the documents discussed in last week’s post: documents that you need to be able to produce on demand.

–         Insurance – Talk with your insurance provider to make sure that you understand what is and isn’t covered. You may need a policy specifically for certain types of business interruptions.

–         Emergency plan – Put a plan in place for continuing business operations in case of emergency and communicate the plan to all employees. Include these items in your plan:

  • Chain of command responsibilities
  • List of resources to take if evacuation time allows (designate a responsible employee position)
  • Call list that includes employees, clients and vendors
  • List of priority business functions, in rank order

–         Practice for emergency conditions – Like a fire drill, practicing for an emergency puts reality to the plan and demonstrates the holes that need fixing. Keep your plan up to date and make sure that employees understand the role they play.