Developing policies

A healthy, well-run organisation will develop key policies to cover strategic (long-term/high-level) and operational (practical, day-to-day) matters. Policies are created for a definite purpose and linked to the group's mission, culture and values. Once developed,

Policies should be reviewed regularly to reflect change within the group and within the community. A clear process of reviewing and updating policies will ensure everyone affected by a policy has the latest version and all policies are implemented and communicated throughout the organisation.

Policies should be:

  • easily understood and written in plain, jargon-free language
  • maintained in electronic and paper formats
  • contained in a policy manual with all the organisation's other policies
  • available at all board meetings
  • accessible at all times to all staff or volunteers
  • regularly reviewed and updates notified.

(From Family and Community Services).

Risks arise when policies are:

  • developed in a vacuum, without input from all stakeholders
  • developed in an unplanned or retrospective, such as to meet the requirements of a funding proposal or audit
  • taken from another organisation without being adapted
  • not part of day-to-day operation or are used only when problems arise, or to show funders or auditors
  • obsolete because they have not kept up with changes in the group or the community
  • version control policies not updated or notified regularly so staff (and others) operate from old versions.

Tikanga framework for developing policies

An example of a Māori framework for setting policies or developing the kaupapa and tikanga of an organisation is provided by Te Wānanga o Raukawa:

'The basic idea is that through Karakia, Moteatea, Whākatauki and Whakapapa, our World View is described and a set of Kaupapa are drawn from which the culture is founded. These are the bedrock, the foundation of the culture. Growing from within the Kaupapa are our Tikanga, just like a tree springs from Papatuanuku. The tikanga are actions, methods, processes, policies etc. that are aligned and consistent with the foundation Kaupapa. All tikanga purporting to be Māori should find their bases in Kaupapa.'

This Māori framework is represented as follows:


Policy and procedures development process

1. Set overall policy objectives

These are the overall objectives, or guiding principles, that underlie your policies and need to be kept in mind when developing the details of your policies. They link to the mission and values of the organisation.

For example, the objectives of Xxxx group's policies are:

  • Xxxx services are accessible and appropriate to its community
  • Xxxx supports the Treaty of Waitangi and the rights of Māori as tangata whenua
  • Xxxx is accountable and responsive to its community
  • Xxxx has effective management and governance arrangements
  • Xxxx has co-ordinated, planned and reliable services
  • Xxxx values the role of its various stakeholders, including staff, volunteers, clients, and community members
  • Xxxx will represent and, where appropriate, advocate on behalf of its community
  • Xxxx welcomes feedback, including complaints, which it will address in a timely, fair and equitable manner.

2. Develop detailed policies



1.  Describe the issue the policy needs to address.
  • keep it simple.

2.  Consult key stakeholders, experts or conduct research as appropriate.

  • who will be/may be affected by the policy, or the issue? what do they have to say?
  • don't just consult the professional experts.

3.  Identify the ranges of policy options.

  • keep this practical.

4.  Consider the internal and external environment (e.g. vision statement, government rules).

  • consider legal requirements (such as health and safety) and any relevant standards (e.g. Child, Youth and Family (CYF) Standards for Approval).

5.  Draft policy (in written form).


  • use clear, simple and unambiguous language
  • have a set format for your policies.

6.  Present to board for consultation/adoption.

  • board (governing body) is responsible for approving the policies.

7.  Set up systems to ensure policy is applied on an ongoing basis.


  • it is management's responsibility to make sure procedures are in place so that the policy is communicated, understood and followed
  • have an up-to-date policies and procedures manual
  • include policies for staff (including volunteer) and induction training.

8.  Review at an agreed date.


  • set an achievable review cycle e.g. three years, unless circumstances change and an earlier review is required
  • some policies may need to be reviewed more frequently than others due to changes in the external environment.

3. Develop/review procedures

Procedures are the steps that put a policy into effect and let everyone in the organisation know how that should be done. In practice, the procedures are often developed at the same time as the policies and need to be reviewed at the same time as the policies. Management should be responsible for developing and circulating the procedures.

Checklist of policies and procedures

A group may need to have any or all of these policies and procedures:


  • Board/committee terms of reference
  • Conflict of interest
  • Cultural responsiveness   
  • Treaty of Waitangi   
  • Board
  • Cost of governance
  • Board committees   
  • Chief executive performance evaluation
  • Board delegation to the chief executive
  • Protection of assets
  • Financial management     
  • Reserves      
  • Investments 
  • Treatment of staff and volunteers
  • Reporting to the board       
  • Protection of intellectual property
  • Public affairs/relations       
  • Compliance with legislation

Recruitment and employment   

  • Recruitment and appointment policy      
  • Remuneration (wages or salary) policy
  • Wage and time recording procedures     
  • Time in lieu policy
  • Disciplinary procedures
  • Leave recording procedures
  • Parental leave policy          
  • Equal employment opportunity policy


  • Employee code of conduct           
  • Anti-harassment policy      
  • Supervision policy  
  • Volunteer management policy
  • Training and development policy (including study support)   
  • Employee personal grievance procedure
  • Annual performance appraisal procedures

Provision of services       

  • Organisational monitoring policy
  • Privacy and confidential information policy
  • Internet/email and phone use policy                   
  • Vehicle policy          
  • Travel policy (including use of credit cards and reimbursement)       
  • Client complaint procedure
  • Child protection policy and abuse notification procedures     

Health and safety

  • Health and safety policy
  • Health and safety procedures, e.g. fire, earthquake, accident                       
  • Smoke-free policy
  • Workplace injury prevention policy

Financial management    

  • Financial management policy
  • Misappropriation of funds policy
  • Expenditure and receipting procedures
  • Petty cash and reimbursement procedures

Template for writing policies

Below is a useful template for actually writing the policies for your organisation.

Policy area

(e.g. governance, employment)

Policy title

(e.g. recruitment)

Policy detail


The actual policy statement the kaupapa, value, or position that the organisation is taking.


How the organisation will give effect to the policy the actual steps to take.


Optional sometimes it is useful to give some background about the policy.

Effective date


Version/review date



e.g. professional body standards, CYF Standards for Approval, ACC guidelines.


Tip: For more sample policies and templates, visit Policy Bank - The Institute of Community Directors Australia.


Adapted from Family and Community Services.


Next page: Important policies

Previous page: Introduction to policies

Contents of the Community Resource Kit