Managing events

by Aviva Community Fund | Nov 14, 2019 | Risk protection for community causes

Managing events

Fundraising events are often a key fixture in many charity’s calendar. But ensuring everything goes off without a hitch demands attention to a dizzying variety of details. Here we’ll run down the most common obligations and risk considerations you’ll need to be aware of. 

Anyone organising an event has a duty and responsibility to protect the health, safety and welfare of anyone involved in any way – that means volunteers, staff, participants, spectators and neighbours. Please see a link to how should you protect your voluntary workers & willing helpers   

If you’re the event organiser, the primary ‘duty of care’ rests with you, although this may be shared with any persons providing advice or services connected to your event. It’s therefore your responsibility to ensure that all legislation relevant to the activity has been complied with. 

Event risk reduction checklist

Before we go into detail, here are a few quick starting points:

  • Draw up an event management plan that outlines the risk, regulations and other requirements that demand action. Please see a link to the Health & Safety Executive guide on Event Management
  • Check with your local authority as to whether a licence is required for your event.
  • Make sure that the local police and fire departments are informed of the event.
  • Ensure that contractors’ risk assessments are up to date and in order, and that they have adequate and appropriate insurances in place.
  • Make sure that someone is monitoring the weather so that alternative plans can be made if necessary.
  • Firework displays should only be carried out by experienced and well-trained operators who have visited the venue and assessed the safety risks.
  • In respect of inflatables, the operator must have sufficient training and knowledge regarding the safe use of the devices. Please see a link to Safe Operation of Inflatables

Third-party event organisers

If you’re putting on a larger event, you might want to employ the expertise of a specialist events company. A number of different companies may be used by an event organiser, depending on factors such as size and skill requirements.

If a separate company is used, the extent and contractual responsibilities need to be understood between the charity and the event organiser. It shouldn’t be assumed that the event organiser has insurance to cover the event, so your charity will need to obtain proof of their insurance, plus the limit of liability afforded by their policy to ensure it’s sufficient to take into account your exposure. 

Failing to ensure that all these checks are made could result in the charity being the only place where compensation could be sought.

Local Authority Licensing

Events may need a licence or authorisation from the local authority for events open to the public or on public or private land – even if no admission charge is taken. 

Charities should check with the local authority to ensure they have permission and whether appropriate licences need to be sought. It’s likely that a licence will be needed for events in sports grounds or stadiums, or for events that involve public entertainment, such as:

  • sale of alcohol
  • music and dancing
  • provision of live music
  • performance of theatrical events or plays
  • film presentation
  • gambling
  • sporting events.

In addition to this, any event located in any park, recreation ground, public space or local authority-owned land will require explicit local authority permission, even if none of the licences above are needed.

Traffic impact assessment 

If the event is on the highway or road, the responsibility for public safety also rests with the organiser. If the event requires a road to be closed, this must be done by applying to the Highways or Roads Authority. This will require a minimum of three months’ notice. For larger events, a detailed management structure should be drawn up and a full risk assessment carried out. 

Venue and facilities safety

Comprehensive consideration of every health and safety issue your event will involve is vital to protecting all participants from harm, and your charity from liability. 

Key areas to consider include:

  • First aid facilities – do the size of the event, the numbers involved and the nature of activities undertaken require external first aid support?
  • Fire safety – have you carried out an assessment of the risk of fire and formulated evacuation procedures?
  • Communication, lighting, heating and electricity – how will staff communicate across site? Is your electrical equipment checked and installed by a qualified electrician? What hazards are posed by your heating solutions?
  • Emergency services – are police and fire services aware of your event and does its size require their presence?
  • Catering services – are caterers in possession of the necessary permits and registrations and do their cooking operations require further inspection by the fire service?
  • Temporary structures – are any marquees, tents or similar fit for purpose, erected professionally and separately insured?

Beyond this, there are a range of other considerations that come into play depending on what your event entails – are you hiring inflatables, setting off fireworks, marshalling a race or conducting activities on water? 

We’ve compiled a comprehensive Event Health and Safety factsheet that gives you an in-depth checklist of all the key factors you’ll need to take into account. We suggest you download and review this in detail. 

Free risk management guidance

While you’ll find lots of tips on how to reduce your risks within the Knowledge Library, you can also contact our specialists:

Risk Helpline – a source of qualified advice that can help with all your risk management needs.

Call 0345 366 6666  


Specialist Partner Network

We also have access to a range of products and services – available at discounted prices for Aviva customers – helping to create an environment with reduced risk. From fire to escape of water, security to motor, health and safety to business resilience – all our partners are well established with a pedigree in the risk management sector.