Introduction to policies

Created: July 26, 2013 at 12:00 PM | Updated: August 28, 2018 | By Community Resource Kit

Policies are the guiding principles by which an organisation is run. They set out a group's kaupapa and tikanga (the core values and principles), and the processes by which the group operates.

Tip: Policies are designed to influence and determine all major decisions and actions taken by an organisation. Procedures provide specific guidelines for actioning these policies.

  • clarify the organisation's mission, values and strategic direction
  • provide boundaries and instructions for appropriate action
  • provide guidelines to ensure consistent decision-making
  • provide a consistent response to commonly occurring events
  • define membership priorities and standards
  • ensure the group is accountable, safeguarding it from possible legal problems or criticism.
Organisations should have two levels of policy:
  1. Governance policies - designed, endorsed and monitored by the board. e.g. an organisation's mission statement.
  2. Operational policies - designed, endorsed and monitored by management, e.g. an organisation's policy on computer use.

Policies resources in the Community Resource Kit

Words used

  • policies - set out the kaupapa and tikanga; what needs to happen (or not).
  • procedures - set out the processes for putting policy into action.

Why have policies?

Some reasons for a group to maintain a set of policies are:

  • so the people in an organisation have a framework for action that helps them get on with the job
  • efficiency - so people in the organisation don't have to discuss the same issues every time they arise. One well thought-out decision can be applied to many similar cases
  • to provide transparency and accountability to the work of the organisation
  • to comply with legal and regulatory requirements
  • to comply with accreditation standards, and
  • to keep improving the quality of service and delivery.


Benefits of having a clear policy framework

Clients/service recipients

  • know what to expect and how to address any concerns.

Staff (including volunteers)


  • have clear roles and boundaries
  • know what is expected of them
  • can rely on the policies to say no when asked to do something that is outside policy (e.g. that may involve a conflict of interest).



  • has a framework for managing the organisation
  • is provided with a degree of protection when challenged about issues beyond their control where proper procedures have been followed (e.g. if a child is harmed and a community agency working with the family blamed).

Committee/board members


  • have a way of setting and communicating the values of the organisation both internally and externally.

Other community members/agencies

  • know where the organisation stands and where other groups may link in with them.

Funders (including potential funders)


  • can see whether (or how) a funding proposal fits in with the organisational mission and values
  • are provided with a degree of confidence that the organisation is able to undertake the project for which it is seeking funding.

The organisation

  • is able to present itself clearly
  • manages its risks.

(Adapted from Paul Bullen Management Alternatives:


Next page: Developing policies

Contents of the Community Resource Kit