Screening volunteers is just as important as screening employees. Recently, we read this article and were shocked to learn how few volunteers are screened during the onboarding process. 52% of people involved with volunteer organizations expect criminal background checks, but only 33% said this actually takes place.
The current state of affairs concerns all volunteer organizations in our communities. As revealed in the report by stock insurer Church Mutual Insurance, the public wants volunteers screened rigorously, but what volunteers actually experience is quite different.
In a previous blog post ,we emphasized the need for screening volunteers: “There is a tendency to automatically assume that an individual who wants to volunteer has totally altruistic intentions. Well, this is not so. Some have an evil intent to abuse your organization’s clients and look at volunteering as a way to get easy access to the most vulnerable.”
Screening volunteers is vital if you want to run a respected organization. Below, you’ll find a few key learnings from the report, along with steps you can take to update your volunteer program for greater safety and efficiency.
Percent of Volunteers Who Were Screened
- Criminal background check – 33% (vs. 52% expected)
- Employment background checks – 24% (vs. 46% expected)
- Volunteer applicant interviews – 28% (vs. 43% expected)
- Verification of application information – 26% (vs. 41% expected)
- National Sex Offender Registry screening – 16% (vs. 41% expected)
Percent of Volunteers Who Were Trained
- General orientation and training – 42% (vs. 47% expected)
- Childcare training, if working with children – 18% (vs. 45% expected)
- First aid and CPR training – 27% (vs. 45% expected)
- Food safety training, if applicable – 17% (vs. 38% expected)
- Sexual abuse prevention training – 13% (vs. 36% expected)
What You Can Do to Improve Your Volunteer Program
- Update your volunteer program regularly to safeguard your members, your organization, and your volunteers themselves
- Hire a trusted volunteer coordinator who can help you stay organized, encourage transparency and manage your program effectively
- Develop a consistent and thorough onboarding process. If you don’t currently have a standard training process that includes things like orientation, first aid and CPR, create one ASAP.
- Conduct background checks for ALL volunteers who work with children and those with access to financial information
- Request a formal application from each volunteer that agrees to a background check and a signed indemnity and release form
These steps are essential if you want to ensure your volunteers are properly vetted. However, there are many other factors that go into making volunteer programs safe and efficient. Ultimately, you should remember your organization’s purpose. You want to help others, not put them at additional risk because you didn’t screen volunteers.
James P. Randisi, President of Randisi & Associates, Inc., has since 1999 been helping employers protect their clients, workforce and reputation through implementation of employment screening and drug testing programs. This post does not constitute legal advice. Randisi & Associates, Inc. is not a law firm. Always contact competent employment legal counsel. To learn more about screening volunteers, Mr. Randisi can be contacted by phone at 410.494.0232 or Email: email@example.com or the website at randisiandassociates.com