We’ve all heard the stories of nationally-known religious leaders who defrauded their churches for large sums of money. But there are countless untold stories of volunteers who damage smaller organizations in big ways. They range from PTA presidents to phony CPAs; from Board treasurers to thrift store cashiers. Their victims are programs designed to assist children and teachers, or the homeless, or youth sports associations. Nationally, non profits suffer great financial losses from corrupt volunteers.
Some dishonest people are on a mission to steal: they volunteer to gain access to an organization’s financial records. Others just find it too easy to take a little off the top when nobody’s looking. Some have gambling addictions; others steal for the thrill; still others just need the cash. Their communities and friends are always shocked by the criminal actions of these seemingly good people.
Fraud is a concern for all organizations—and you simply cannot tell a person’s character by appearance. Even articulate, outgoing, well-dressed, and happy-to-help volunteers can be deceitful—and folks who are good at lying can hide some very scary secrets. Luckily, fraud can be avoided with proper controls and procedures.
Volunteer screening is the first defense against fraud. Background screening is routinely performed by smart employers when hiring new staff. But it’s just as important for non profits recruiting unpaid help. The volunteer recruiter’s responsibility is to prevent monetary theft from the organization and to protect the people it serves, its staff, and its other volunteers. Volunteer screening is an easy way to protect the organization from those potential volunteers who have personal profit on their agendas, as well as those hiding violent or predatory pasts. It’s vitally important to screen potential volunteers for all of these issues.
Help prevent fraud in your organization with background checks. Proper volunteer screening will help keep your organization safe.