Is This Your Situation: You’re Concerned About Your Nonprofit’s Volunteers

Is This Your Situation: You’re Concerned About Your Nonprofit’s Volunteers

Without volunteers, most nonprofits wouldn’t be able to function. But you want to ensure the safety of the individuals you’re serving. Background checks protect nonprofits from repercussions of placing unsuitable candidates in volunteer roles.

For example, churches, youth sports leagues, hospitals and schools often run background checks on their volunteers. They know these checks help protect them from negligence claims, ensure the safety of other volunteers and children, and prevent costly public relations nightmares. Background checks can reveal whether the volunteer has past criminal behavior and look for his or her name on the sex and violent offender registries.

Most background screening professionals recommend collecting a minimum amount of information. Consider the following issues as you weigh the advantages of background checks:

    1. Take time to consider essential functions that will be performed by the volunteer.
    2. Evaluate responsibilities and risks associated with those duties.
    3. Identify the most accurate and cost-effective background check for the position. For example, will the candidate be driving an organization-owned vehicle? You may want a motor vehicle record search. Will the volunteer be teaching a group on a regular basis? You may want verification of an education or a professional license. Will the applicant be handling cash or checks and have access to your financial records? You may want to see a credit report.
    4. Reduce management risk factors. With a tight budget, your group wouldn’t survive a lawsuit. Mitigate risks that may lead to public safety failures, negligence lawsuits and public or media backlash from an incident.

A huge liability exists when you send volunteers into the community without performing proper background checks. Perhaps you’re thinking about weighing the costs and benefits of background screening. Nonprofits can face the same damaging legal and financial consequence as for-profits do. Stories abound involving nonprofits facing lawsuits as well as emotionally distressed constituents.

What should you look for in choosing a background screening provider? If you’re unsure about screening, you should know that there’s an organization to check out — the National Association of Professional Background Screeners, which will supply fact sheets as well as names of accredited members.

Conducting thorough background checks on volunteers is one way to reduce risk, prevent potential issues and protect your organization’s image. And probably even more important, screening helps ensure the safety of other volunteers and children while averting costly public relations nightmares.

For more details and the facts about screening volunteers, give us a call. We’ll help you sign up with National Crime Search, our trusted partner that can help you screen current and potential employees and volunteers.

Original content by Industry Newsletters.   This information is provided with the understanding that Payroll Partners is not rendering legal, human resources, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from a lawyer, HR consultant or other professional.