To make your organization as crisis-ready as possible, create a crisis response plan. The first step in developing this plan is to conduct a SWOT analysis.
Conducting a SWOT analysis is a good way to determine which possible crises are both plausible and would pose a serious threat. A SWOT analysis examines an organization's Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. This is best done with a group of key employees, volunteers, or supporters of your organization. Special attention should be paid to the weaknesses and threats you identify. Examine those threats and weaknesses to identify which crises are most likely to confront your organization. Is your office located in a flood zone? Is the current economic or political climate unstable? Do your activities open your organization up to litigation or negative media attention? Is it plausible that your organization may experience a major, disruptive change such as the departure of the executive director or the end of funding for a major initiative?
Once a list of plausible crises is assembled, the group should then brainstorm what would happen to the organization were the crisis to take place. What would be the cost in terms of money, assets, reputation, or the well-being of staff, clients, and volunteers? How could these effects be minimized or mitigated? Asking these questions will start the process of formulating a crisis response plan.
The U.S. Small Business Administration's Introduction to Strategic Planning contains a chapter on conducting a SWOT Analysis. Click the link above link to learn more about conducting a SWOT Analysis.