Archive for April, 2011

Volunteer Management: Assessing Liability and Managing Risk

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

volunteer screenigCan a non-profit organization (NPO) be held liable for the actions of its volunteers? In general, common law allows that negligence in hiring is viewed equally whether a case involves a paid or unpaid volunteer position. Putting volunteers in positions where they can cause harm to others is a principle source of liability to NPOs.

Whether or not the volunteer coordinator, executive director, or board of directors know or should have known a volunteer posed an unreasonable risk of harm, and whether or not the NPO has any control over the volunteer’s activities are important considerations.

The best defense is a good offense, so knowing up front if a volunteer poses an unreasonable risk is the first step in preventing harm and the liability that comes with it. Screening volunteers is the only way to determine whether or not they pose a risk to a non-profit organization or its clientele.

Strong and safe volunteer recruiting procedures always include volunteer screening. It’s important to know what position a volunteer applicant will be filling once they are approved, so you can determine the level of screening required. This is typically based on the potential risk the position presents.

  • Low-risk-level volunteer positions
    Filing, answering telephones, database management, marketing
  • Medium-risk-level volunteer positions
    Serving meals, working in a service office, making deliveries to clients, cleaning, painting, landscaping
  • Higher-risk-level volunteer positions
    Board of directors, financial and accounting, operating NPO-owned vehicles or equipment, caring for animals, any contact with the general public, working directly with clients, especially young, elderly and vulnerable populations

Professional volunteer background screening and credit checks can assure a non-profit organization’s clients and the public that its volunteers do not present a risk of harm. A trusted, thorough volunteer screening partner can recommend the most appropriate level of screening for your needs.

Quick Tips For Successful Fundraising Auctions

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

Auctions—either live or online—are a popular way for nonprofits to raise money. They can be a lot of hard work, but auctions can be fun, too. There is a right way to run an auction: you’ll know you did when you see a big audience, they have a great time and you hit your fundraising goal.

If your organization has an auction coming up or is considering one, here are 7 tips to consider that could make it more successful!

  1. Remember, it’s supposed to be fun! Create an atmosphere of excitement that will keep your volunteer committee inspired to continue through the planning process. It’s a big job to do an auction successfully, so make it fun and energetic.
  2. Give people a reason to attend. Is it a celebrity guest? Amazing auction items? An intriguing theme? If you become known for surprises, trips or fabulous wine, people will look forward to coming every year.
  3. Don’t try to run the auction alone. It takes many hands to gather the auction items, solicit donations and support, advertise the event, prepare the space, hire the auctioneer and the other thousand pieces that go into fundraising auctions.
  4. Rushing won’t help. Allow plenty of time: six to nine months is considered the minimum.
  5. Choose quality over quantity for auction items. An items that goes for $50 will take as much time to merchandise and sell as an time that goes for $500.
  6. Find the right volunteers. Approach it like a business. Figure out the jobs that need to be done, write job descriptions and match volunteers to the jobs they’re most suited to. For example, retailers can design the displays, graphic designers can do the invitations and programmers can help with the database operations.
  7. Keep great records so next year’s fundraising auction is just as successful—and easier.

If you decide to host a fundraising auction, do your homework and do more preparation, planning, and promoting than you think you’ll need.