You need to protect the people at the heart of your charity and provide help in a way that ensures that the public benefit from what you do. 

Without support and policies to safeguard everyone who interacts with your organisation, you could put them at risk of harm.

It’s essential to understand what could go wrong and how to make sure you overcome issues in a manageable and straightforward way.

This guide discusses safeguarding policy for small charities, which includes:

  • Risks
  • Protections
  • Operations
  • Reports

Safeguarding policy for small charities


You must register your charity to the Charity Commission to operate legally. 

That body will ensure that you follow the guidance set out by the UK Government to safeguard anyone who’s involved with your charity directly or indirectly.

Those could include:

  • People who benefit
  • Volunteers
  • Donors

The primary way to safeguard these people is with a procedure to avoid any issues and create a culture within your organisation that takes reports seriously.

Some of the risks for harm to be aware of could include:

  • Sexual harassment or abuse
  • Criminal exploitation
  • Modern slavery or human trafficking
  • Extremism or radicalisation
  • Domestic abuse
  • Self-harm or suicide
  • Bullying or discrimination

The reality of your charity work is likely to involve vulnerable people, which comes with risks associated with their situations.

Dealing with particularly vulnerable people could make them a target for criminals or abusers to take advantage of their desperate circumstances. 

For example, scammers could target those with learning difficulties to get money out of them.

With such sensitive issues, it requires you to be on a high level of alert. You should make sure that you help improve people’s lives and don’t open an avenue for them to worsen.

Missed opportunities for intervention could have dire consequences. For example, a mental health charity missing the signs that someones likely to be a danger to themselves.


It’s crucial to put a safeguarding policy for small charities in place to minimise likely harm. Your approach and procedure should make the necessary steps to protect people as straightforward as possible.

The UK Government suggest that your policies should be:

  • Clear — evident to everyone who works with your charity.
  • Responsive — able to adapt if situations change.
  • Reviewed — check them once a year and after severe incidents.
  • Public — available for anyone to view and understand.

The primary purposes of your policy should be to:

  • Protect — avoid harm to anyone with safety a priority.
  • Listen — take any concerns seriously (don’t ignore them).
  • Handle — deal with incidents and allegations.
  • Respond — report severe issues to relevant authorities.

Authorities to contact may vary depending on the issue. For example, sexual abuse would be a matter for the police, but self-harm would be more suited to the NHS (National Health Service).

Anyone who interacts with your charity needs to feel comfortable reporting problems to ensure that they’re dealt with appropriately.

Another suggestion from the UK Government is for you to keep aware of current trends or themes, both in your local area and the country. That could mean that you need to adapt what you look out for.

For example, drug gangs could begin to target vulnerable teenagers in your area. That could mean that you take extra care if you work with foster homes and make sure they feel safe to come forward if they feel threatened.


When it comes to safeguarding policy for small charities, you should consider how you can implement protection into your operations

DBS checks

One important step could be introducing DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checks. These can alert your organisation of whether someone who works with you (like a volunteer) has a criminal record.

DBS checks can be critical when working with:

  • Children
  • Vulnerable adults
  • Accounting and finance
  • Animals

With checks a part of your operations, you could minimise the risk of people with nefarious or dangerous intentions harming the people you help.


Additional risks could be crucial for your safeguarding policies when your charity operates online. 

These can include three key areas:

  • Content — ensure that you don’t post anything that puts the people you help at risk (e.g. personal information).
  • Contact — make sure that any sensitive communication online regarding charity is secure and unlikely to be breached.
  • Conduct — prevent any online abuse towards or from anyone who interacts with your organisation.

Online activity should include permission from anyone who features in your content, passwords for any contact accounts and a procedure to report any harassment as you would offline.


To ensure that safeguarding policies for small charities are maintained and followed, you must keep the reporting system up to date and available.

In the case of a severe incident, the authorities may approach your organisation, and detailed reports could help you comply with an investigation

Without accurate reporting, it could reflect poorly on your charity and lead to reputational damage. It would be difficult for you to gain public support for an organisation that does more harm than good.

When you report incidents or concerns with safeguarding, there may be additional authorities that you should alert.

Contact your council’s Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) if you have allegations of the potential risk to local children.

It’s vital to continue to log your reports and follow your procedures to help you deal with issues while you protect others in the future. 

Safeguard essential spending with Countingup

To continue to provide activities and services that help people, make sure that you can cover the essential costs you have. 

Whether for equipment, travel or utilities, you need to keep your operation going to do as much good as possible. Excellent financial management is the best way to ensure you always have the funds to meet people’s needs. 

Countingup is a business account with built-in accounting software that offers cash flow insights to help you track the money that comes in or out of your charity.

Get started for free.

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