How to complete a risk assessment for your fundraising event

Doing a risk assessment isn’t about doing lots of paperwork! It’s just a way of protecting everyone involved from any harm that could potentially arise from the event or activities you’re organising.

You’ll need to look at anything that may cause harm and check that you’ve taken the necessary precautions.

A hazard is anything that may cause harm such as excessive noise, some equipment or chemicals.

A risk is the chance – high, medium or low – that somebody could be harmed by a hazard, with an indication of how serious the harm could be.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) lists five steps to risk assessment:

  • Step 1 – Identify the hazards
  • Step 2 – Decide who might be harmed and how
  • Step 3 – Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions
  • Step 4 – Record your findings
  • Step 5 – Review your risk assessment and update if necessary

Step 1 – Identify the hazards

You’ll need to work out the hazards that may cause people to be harmed:

  • The HSE website provides practical guidance on hazards.
  • Note down what may cause harm around your event venue.
  • Ask other organisers and the venue owner – their previous experience may help you.
  • Check the manufacturer’s instructions for any equipment you’re using.
  • Remember long-term hazards such as high noise levels.

Step 2 – Decide who might be harmed and how

For each hazard you need to be clear about who might be harmed; it will help you identify the best way of controlling the risk.

That doesn’t mean listing everyone by name, but rather identifying groups of people (for example marshalls on 5k run route’ or ‘children in activity area’).

  • Think about how each group may be harmed. For example, children may get lost.
  • Remember that some groups, such as elderly people, people with disabilities or pregnant people, may have specific needs.
  • Make sure you think about people that may only attend the event for a short period of time, such as suppliers.
  • You’ll also need to think about anyone sharing the event venue.
  • Remember to think about any hazards when setting up or clearing up the event.

Step 3 – Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions

Once you have identified the hazards, you then have to decide how likely it is that harm will occur. In other words the level of risk and what to do about it.

Risk is a part of everyday life and you are not expected to eliminate all risks. But you must make sure you know about the main risks and the things you need to do to manage them responsibly.

  • Look at what you’re already doing.
  • Decide whether you need to remove the hazard altogether or how you can control the risk to reduce the likelihood of harm occurring.

When controlling risks, the principles below will help you. Could you;

  • Eliminate the risk altogether
  • Try a less risky option
  • Restrict access to the area concerned
  • Issue protective equipment
  • Provide welfare facilities

Step 4 – Record your findings

Make a record of your significant findings – the hazards, how people might be harmed by them and what you have in place to control the risks. Any record produced should be simple and focused on controls.

An easy way to record your findings is to use our risk assessment template.

When writing down your results keep it simple, for example ‘Tripping over rubbish, Control = bins provided and emptied regularly, regular checks to be made’.

A risk assessment must be ‘suitable and sufficient’. In other words it should show that:

  • a proper check was made
  • you asked who might be affected
  • you dealt with all the obvious significant hazards, taking into account the number of people who could be involved
  • the precautions are reasonable, and the remaining risk is low
  • you involved anyone relevant in the process.

Make sure you keep a record of all your actions, make regular checks, allocate clear responsibilities and prioritise the most important things first.

Step 5 – Review your risk assessment and update if necessary

Venues and activities may change during the course of planning as well as on the day itself. New hazards may present themselves. So it makes sense to review what you are doing on an ongoing basis. Look at your risk assessment again and ask yourself:

  • Have there been any significant changes?
  • Are there improvements you still need to make?
  • Has anyone else spotted a problem?
  • Have you learnt anything from accidents or near misses?

Make sure your risk assessment stays up to date.

Checklist of things to think about

Food and drink

Make sure any caterers have food hygiene certificates as well as public liability insurance. When choosing a caterer, it’s best to choose someone who has experience of the type of event you’re planning.

If food is not being prepared by a caterer, ensure that everyone preparing food is made aware of the Food Standards Agency safe food preparation guidelines.

If you’re serving hot food and drinks, you’ll need to reduce the risk of burns, for example by providing cup holders.

Try to label any food that may contain ingredients that people are commonly allergic to such as nuts, gluten or dairy.

Slips, trips and falls

Think about loose floor coverings, tiles, paving stones, cables and so on, as well as liquid spillages, maintenance of car parks, yards, steps and paths, potholes, tree roots, unprotected drops, long undergrowth or grass. Will wet weather change your risk assessment level? Is lighting adequate in all areas?


It’s best to ensure that equipment is sourced from reputable suppliers, is in good working order, has been tested prior to your event and is handled safely. You may need to provide training for anyone handling machinery or equipment. Remember to store your equipment securely.


Ensure all electrical appliances are in good condition and sourced from reputable suppliers.


Ensure all gas appliances and equipment is in good condition and will be used and stored safely. Gas boilers need regular maintenance and gas cylinders need to be used, stored and changed safely.

Hazardous substances

Any hazardous substances such as pesticides, petrol, cleaning fluids and so on, need to be stored correctly and out of reach of children. Personal protective equipment such as gloves and goggles may need to be provided.

First aid emergencies

Will you be providing first aid equipment? Will there be professionals with first aid training on site? What is the procedure for dealing with accidents, and does everyone helping at your event know what it is?

Manual handling

Think about what needs to be moved and who will be moving it. Remember to consider whether you can just avoid manual handling activity. You may need to provide aids to manual handling, such as trolleys or protective clothing as well as train people for safe manual handling.

Working at height

Make sure anyone working at height, for example changing light bulbs, putting up decorations, getting on ladders, is safe and knows of all safety arrangements you have put in place. Ensure ladders are in good condition and used securely.

Vehicle movement

You’ll need to think about how to keep pedestrians safe from vehicles, and how to control traffic. You may need to provide car park stewards as well as clear entrance and exit routes for emergency vehicles.


Combustible materials, flammable liquids or accumulations of waste can be a fire hazard as well as sources of heat such as people or people smoking. You’ll need to make sure all fire exits and escape routes are well signed and accessible, fire detection and fire fighting equipment is installed and evacuation plans are in place and have been communicated to everyone.

Personal welfare and safety

Make sure safety arrangements are in place for anyone handling large amounts of money, working alone or in the dark and they are able to call for assistance if necessary. Also ensure that everyone can access refreshments and take breaks.

Money collecting and handling

You’ll need to appoint someone in charge of handling cash and ensure there is a secure place to collect, count and store money.

Other activities and hazards

These include:

  • Miscellaneous hazards such as people being hit by golf balls, people mixing with wildlife or falling branches.
  • There may be specific hazards relating to the elderly, pregnant people or people with disabilities.
  • Have you provided disabled access?
  • Have you made arrangements for adverse weather?
  • Are arrangements in place for lost children?
  • Have you carried out DBS checks/reference checks on all those working with children or vulnerable adults?
  • Will children need parental permission to attend the event?
  • Will alcohol be on sale and if so, will you need a license? Ensure any sellers do not sell alcohol to children under 18.
  • Will you need other licenses such as those for playing music?
  • Do you have arrangements in place for managing a major incident such as a death, serious injury, or a bomb threat?