Many smaller not-for-profit organisations may query the need for policy development but it is often a critical step in facilitating the sustainable growth of an organisation.
Policies help clarify roles and responsibilities and ensure that there is consistency with decision making and processes. This makes it easier for staff, volunteers and committee members to carry out their duties with confidence and clarity.
The key to policy development is engaging members of the organisation, so that they are able to provide input and understand the importance of sound policies. Workshops are a useful tool to encourage discussion and to ensure that the content of each policy is understood and accepted.
It is useful to conduct these workshops with a policy framework already prepared so that input can be sought into the specific elements of each policy. It is important to gain the input of staff and volunteers given that they are directly involved in the operational activities of an organisation. Likewise it is important that all committee members recognise the importance of policies and support their introduction.
Once adopted, policies need to be readily available for staff and volunteers so that they are aware of their content. Within an organisational context, policies can be made available on an Intranet site, viewable by people within the organisation and within a Policy Register available in a convenient location.
Policies need to be timely and should be regularly reviewed to ensure that they are still relevant to an organisation. A comprehensive review should be conducted every three or four years with the policies being formally renewed by the organisation. Depending on the content of the policy it also useful to conduct a quick review on an annual basis to ensure that the policies are being implemented as intended.
Policy development and adoption is an ongoing challenge, but through a collaborative approach this can be accomplished easily and with a sense of ownership across the organisation.