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How to Create a Transparent Nonprofit Culture That Encourages Incident Reporting

Incident Reporting

Are all your staff and volunteers willing to report a physical hazard or liability risk within the organization? Just because you may feel reporting an incident shouldn’t be a big deal, the fact is that it’s very common for employees and volunteers to be unwilling to make a report. For example, many don’t want to report unsafe practices because they don’t believe management would take corrective action if such conditions were reported, or they might even fear retaliation.

Some employees and volunteers simply do not feel comfortable reporting safety violations, concerns, or risk exposures for a variety of reasons and when they do feel inclined to report, it can be considered a significant success.

Promoting a Safe Culture with Incident Reporting

It is important that organizations make efforts in understanding the reasons for the reluctance to report incidents. It is all too common that individuals feel they will be ignored, misunderstood or even punished for confronting a potential problem. Sometimes they believe reporting a problem could possibly damage the organization somehow, or the reputations of people to whom they may feel close. Other reasons for not stepping up to report a safety problem or other risk exposure include:

  • The belief that it is someone else’s responsibility to do so.
  • The mindset that the incident reporting system is weak.
  • The fear that blame will be assigned before all the facts are in.

Consider these concerns and if they might exist within your own organization. If these hesitations exist and these fears and reluctance are shared, be proactive in your approach to find a remedy. It’s in your best interest to implement open communication and to reassure your employees and volunteers that the organization is committed to identifying and addressing all the risk exposures that it may be susceptible to, and that there will be no retaliatory action taken against them.

It is also important to make it clear that it is everyone’s shared responsibility to say something if they see something. Emphasize that there is nothing too big or too small to be addressed, nor should there be any taboo topics. It could be beneficial to be very outspoken about how a risk must be discussed in order to be properly managed.

You will also find more information on this topic in our VIS Vault. We have a sample risk management policy you can adapt for your organization. There’s also a document titled “If They See Something, Will They Say Something?” with tips for creating a culture that encouraging risk reporting. We invite you to become a VIS member. For only $25 a year, members have 24/7 access to to the VIS Vault with over 70 resources on insurance, injury prevention, vehicle safety, event safety, human resources, volunteer management and other topics to help the volunteer-based organization manage its foreseeable risks. New content is added every month. Join now. Questions? Email us at  or call us at 800.222.8920.

About VIS

Volunteers Insurance Service Association, Inc. (VIS) was established in 1972 for the purpose of providing insurance and risk management services for volunteer-based organizations. In addition to still providing these insurance services today on a nationwide scale, we have expanded to provide noninsurance resources for members to manage their risks and improve their operations. By transferring the volunteer risk exposure to our program, we can help you protect your organization. Contact us today at (800) 222-8920 for more information on our programs and services. Join now!