Methods for identifying risks

Identifying risks is the first and perhaps the most important step in the risk management process. If there is a failure to identify any particular risk then other steps in the risk management cannot be implemented for that risk.

It is important to realise that an organisation's exposure to risk may be constantly changing. For example, at the time that a risk audit takes place, an organisation may not have any sponsorship contracts. The risk audit may therefore not uncover any risks associated with sponsorship because at the time none were apparent. However some months later after risk management policies and procedures have been documented, the organisation is successful in obtaining a major sponsor and key personnel have not adequately considered risks.

The following table presents some of the many methods for identifying risks:


Distributing a questionnaire to staff and volunteers about their observations of risks and knowledge of risk management procedures. There is every chance that people within the organisation are aware of a risk that has not been previously identified in any risk management audit. The risk management questionnaire may serve to prompt memories of specific events or encourage people to voice their opinion on perceived risks.

Organisation's Records

Reviewing the following organisation documents may yield information about risks exposures. However, this aspect of risk auditing may be time intensive.

  • Minutes of committee meetings
  • Event management plans and report
  • Policy documents
  • Contracts for facilities
  • Sponsorship proposals
  • Resource agreements with government funding providers


A worthwhile risk identification strategy is to create flow charts for the organisation and delivery of programs, events and services provided by the organisation.

The benefit of a flowchart to the risk identification process is that it identifies possible ways in which basic processes in sport and recreation management can be interrupted.

Any interruption to the provision of events, programs and services is a potential for loss.

Professional Expertise

Sport and recreation organisations may consider using risk management consultants with expertise to identify virtually any risk exposure. However the services of such consultants may be available only at a significant cost.

On-Site Investigations

On-site investigations provide opportunities for face-to-face discussions with organisation personnel. Such discussions may lead to a better understanding of the extent of risks arising when events and activities do not go as planned. On-site investigations may also shed light on the frequency with which such undesirable events occur.

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