Contingency planning

Contingency planning means preparing an organization to be ready to respond effectively in the event of an emergency. It is an important part of the IFRC's work supporting National Society preparedness. Time spent in contingency planning equals time saved when a disaster strikes.

Contingency planning is a management tool that involves all parts of an organization. It can help ensure timely and effective humanitarian aid to those who need it most.

Making a contingency plan involves making various decisions as an organization before an emergency happens. These decisions range from how to manage human and financial resources, how to best coordinate internally and with partners, and what communications procedures to put in place. 

The contingency planning process can be broken down into three simple questions: What is going to happen? What are we going to do about it? What can we do ahead of time to get prepared?

It is often used when there is a specific threat or hazard which is likely to impact an organization. But it is also important to consider less likely scenarios and develop contingency plans accordingly.

Contingency planning must be a collaborative effort. And plans must be linked to the plans, systems and processes of governments, partners and other members of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

Contingency planning vs business continuity planning

Contingency planning and business continuity planning are related but have different purposes.

Business continuity planning is an organizational tool to ensure that an organization's systems can continue to function during times of crisis. A good business continuity plan ensures an organization can continue to operate their essential services.

If you are from a Red Cross or Red Crescent Society, you can get support with business continuity via our Help Desk on the Global Disaster Preparedness Website.

Watch: Contingency and business continuity planning