Key Points

  • Policies are statements about how your organisation will approach or deal with a particular matter, whilst procedures are specific instructions that tell people in exactly what way they need to act to perform an activity.
  • Policies and procedures give guidance on how the organisation operates safely and professionally and how staff and volunteers should behave. They are therefore an important part of managing risk and limiting the liability Committee or Board members carry.
  • As a governance member, you need familiarity with your policy set and know where to go looking when and if you need more guidance.
  • There are many comprehensive libraries of sample policies and procedures your organisation can borrow from to adapt and create its policy and procedure manual.

Policies and procedures are the agreed written instructions for how your organisation will operate and they are an important foundation for the training and performance management of staff and volunteers, for dealing with critical incidents, addressing legal matters and much else besides. Policies tend to be broader statements about how your organisation will approach a particular matter and its objectives related to that matter, whilst procedures tend to be more specific, stepwise instructions telling staff, volunteers or Committee members exactly what to do.

Given there are literally hundreds of topics to cover in the life of an organisation, developing or getting your head around a policy and procedures manual for your organisation can feel quite daunting.  However, as many issues are similar from organisation to organisation using standard policies and procedures from one of a number of high-quality free libraries will get you a long way down the track.

Top Tip

You’ll find the bulk of topics you may wish to cover in a policy and procedure manual are covered in one of the libraries listed in the resources below which you can adapt to suit you. As a Board, focus your effort on writing up new policies only for the unique activities or circumstances relevant to your organisation.

Want more? ... check out these resources

Policy Bank - Institute of Community Directors - 5 minute browse


A great purpose-built policy bank designed for the not-for-profit sector. Take your time to have a look around and find what you need.

Online Toolkit – Queensland Council of Social Services – 5 minute browse


Another great resource – particularly for Queensland-based organisations brought to you by our own Queensland Council of Social Services.

Online Toolkit - Australian Charities and Not-for-Profit Commission - 5 minutes browse


A wide range of useful templates, particularly targeted at registered charities in this template library from the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission. Have a look around and see what might suit you.

Online Toolkit - Australian Indigenous Governance Institute - 10 minute read


This isn’t a library – but a terrific instruction manual about how to develop and review policies of all kinds.  If you’ve been handed a job to develop some policies or you are wondering about how well your organisation is managing its policy framework, do yourself a favour and have a flick through this high-quality guidance.

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