What Topics Should A Solid Safeguarding Policy Address?

When creating or reviewing your nonprofit’s safeguarding policy, don’t overlook these essential elements.


Safeguarding—preventing and responding to abuse of children and people in vulnerable circumstances—begins with a good organizational policy. A holistic safeguarding policy will help your staff, volunteers, trustees, and constituents protect people from harm and respond to abuse.

Not sure how to create or update your safeguarding policy? GlobalGiving hosted a peer learning call on the topic to curate best practices. Here are 14 important questions that may help your organization create or update its safeguarding policy.

Does your organization’s policy:

1. Have a clear statement of intent that includes your definition of safeguarding and your reasons for implementing the policy?

2. Define appropriate and inappropriate behavior toward your community?

3. Provide specific information and guidance on child protection (if working with children), with a list of supporting procedures? (Learn more about child protection.)

4. Provide specific information and guidance on working with adults in vulnerable circumstances (for example those with learning needs—if applicable), with a list of supporting procedures? (See a sample safeguarding policy for vulnerable adults.)

5. Advise staff, volunteers, trustees, and any contractors on how to protect members of your community from physical, sexual, and emotional harm and identify victims who may need help?

6. Outline disciplinary measures for staff, volunteers, trustees, or contractors involved in an incident?

7. Create the necessary conditions for a safe physical and emotional environment?

8. Give staff appropriate instructions if they witness abuse (e.g. how to respond and report)?

9. Designate and provide contact information for nominated safeguarding leads in your organization?

10. Inform staff, volunteers, trustees, and contractors of their rights and protections as whistleblowers?

11. Facilitate safe and appropriate interactions between constituents and donors?

12. Does it make safeguarding an integral part of the recruiting, onboarding, supervision and ongoing training process for staff, volunteers, trustees, and contractors?

13. Protect the data and privacy of your community?

14. Have clear guidelines for the use of constituent information and photos in internal and external communications (case reports, website information, presentations, media, newsletters)? Learn more about ethical storytelling.

If this article is helpful, you may also be interested in this safeguarding checklist for nonprofits.

This article is a collection of tips from the GlobalGiving Peer Learning Network.

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Featured Photo: Two young women participate in a Mercy Corps program designed to help young people in rural Guatemala successfully farm or develop other types of livelihoods. Photo by Corinna Robbins for Mercy Corps.

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