Your incident response plan needs to be flexible enough for anything that could happen in your scope of activities, and specific enough that everyone involved knows what they need to do. You can download our template as a starting point.


A community may have:

Your primary responders should be people who can take responsibility for your community’s response to an incident. You need to prevent conflicts of interest: no couples or family members working together. Don’t take on this responsibility alone. Two or more people are needed to hold each other accountable, and an ideal group size is usually three to five responders. People will need to rotate in and out of the response group over time, and take turns being on call or in the lead position.

Describe what each set of participants and organizers is expected to do. There will be a reporting chain — maybe just two steps from “participant” to “organizer/responder” — and you may also be accountable to a parent or partner organization.

This is the time to think about how your ability to receive and respond to information about code of conduct violations fits into your governance structure.

Examples of possible response teams

Making a plan

Map out what kinds of situations you’ve had in the past or are concerned about encountering. Decide in advance how you’d like to handle it. Common issues can be fully scripted out, and more unusual or complex issues will benefit from a more formal decision-making process. See the template for an example of how that can be handled.


People forget things in the middle of a chaotic situation. In addition to a written plan, it’s highly beneficial to practice. You can attend one of our community training sessions for this, or ask us about a custom workshop.


At in-person events, the plan should be available at key areas like volunteer rooms and info desks. Also include a cover page with the contact info for all responders, and the physical address of your event venue for when you need to call for emergency services. Online it should be easily accessible to all organizers and responders. Don’t consider this a public document: you may need to include personal information for responders, or be planning for situations that would be worse if everyone had your notes on how you will respond.

Response teams should look for the greatest security possible when communicating with each other. Make use of a secure chat system like Signal, and refrain from putting sensitive information in your emails to each other.

Other resources