Archive for March, 2013

Get Your Volunteer Files in Order

Friday, March 29th, 2013

volunteer screeningIt’s always a good idea to have your personnel files in good shape—and that includes volunteer personnel, as well. Some federal and state grants and other funding require employment documentation and reporting, while other funding sources may want to inspect your records. Besides, many state and federal laws require recordkeeping.

Here’s what every employee and volunteer file should contain:

  • Original employment or volunteer application.
  • Resume.
  • Original signed authorization for pre-employment background check or volunteer background screening.
  • Any written notices from the records check. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that the applicant be given copies of the notices.
  • Tax forms, such as the W-4 for withholding federal and social security taxes.
  • Any state-required tax forms.
  • Hiring documentation, such as signed offer letters.
  • Performance evaluations, change forms (for job titles, raises, job changes, benefits plans, etc.)
  • Direct deposit authorization.

Confidential paperwork, such as drug test results, background check results or medical information should be kept in a secure file.

Employment eligibility verification forms (Form I-9) for all employees should be kept together in a separate file.

Keep all personnel files in a locked cabinet and restrict access to two or three people; for example, the HR person, the volunteer manager and the executive director. Keep a log so when an employee’s file is reviewed it can be noted with the date, person who reviewed it, and reason.

Take care when destroying confidential records. The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions (FACT) Act of 2005 requires all employers to burn or shred all applicant, employee and volunteer personal information, such as Social Security numbers, addresses and telephone numbers, as well as any information reported to a consumer reporting agency for a background check.

Can you trust every person who volunteers for your agency? Conduct background checks on all volunteers. Rely on for your volunteer screening services. Protect your staff, clients, and your community with volunteer background checks.

Be an Extraordinary Volunteer Manager

Friday, March 15th, 2013

volunteer screening, volunteer background checkIf you’ve ever worked under a great leader, you can probably think of traits that made him or her seem completely unique. Realistically, great leaders often share a few common traits. And these traits are often simply good habits they’ve developed over the years.

With effort, any good leader can become extraordinary. Whether you’re managing paid employees or volunteers, the following traits of great leaders are worth emulating.

  • Community: Great leaders want everyone to be included. They focus on the needs of the whole, rather than the few—and certainly not their own needs. When your volunteers feel more included, they want to help more.
  • Coaching: Extraordinary leaders are great coaches. They naturally mentor those under them, are great listeners and offer sound advice. They don’t micromanage, however—they know it’s important to allow employees to make decisions and mistakes, and learn from them.
  • Openness: Great leaders are open to new ideas. They love finding new ways to tackle old problems, have open-door policies and enjoy hearing what everyone has to say.
  • Humility: Great leaders often have great senses of humor, and can laugh at themselves. Volunteers, who are working for free, appreciated such humility. A light-hearted atmosphere builds camaraderie and makes people more willing to work hard.
  • Vision: Extraordinary managers have the ability to help others visualize the future—and follow them to it. In addition, they create a shared vision for everyone, not just themselves.
  • Trust: The best managers instill trust in those they lead. What’s more, they inspire others to be trustworthy. In a nonprofit organization, trust is essential to avoiding politics, games and other productivity-killing silliness.
  • Truth: Even when the truth is unpleasant, great leaders tell it anyway. They know that avoiding or hiding the truth does nothing to avert a bad situation. Treating volunteers like adults who can handle the truth will instill loyalty—and may result in some creative solutions to the problem.

When extraordinary leaders are present, volunteers are typically happier and more productive. They are inspired to work with the group toward common goals, and are more likely to stick around longer, too. Try working on these traits, or habits, and become an extraordinary volunteer leader!

Mandated Volunteer Pre-Screening

Friday, March 1st, 2013

volunteer screening, volunteer background checkAll volunteers should be screened before they begin work with your organization. While most people who sign up to be volunteers are trustworthy, it only takes one bad apple to change the course of your organization. If you unknowingly have a convicted felon, embezzler, child or elder abuser, or drunk driver among your volunteers, he or she could cause a lot of damage that might never be reversed.

It’s always better to know whom you’re working with before something bad happens in the office or with a client. Volunteer screening can keep you from bringing in drug felons, child abusers and sex offenders.

Volunteer screening may also be mandated. For example:

  • For many organizations, volunteer screening is required by the federal government, as a condition of receiving funds.
  • A look at state laws reveals the Minnesota, Florida, Oregon and others have enacted legislation making background checks mandatory for volunteers who work with kids, the elderly, the disabled or other vulnerable populations.

Sports leagues are increasingly requiring adults who volunteer as coaches, assistants, umpires and referees to undergo background checks before they are allowed to work with kids:

  • As of January 1, the American Legion has started requiring background checks for coaches, managers and volunteer staff of their junior and senior American Legion Baseball teams.
  • Coral Springs, Florida has also implemented a mandatory volunteer background check policy for adult volunteers in city sports leagues.
  • The Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) has also implemented mandatory background screening for all staff, coaches and volunteers, in an effort to “foster a culture of safety.” In addition, every person involved in AAU programs will be required to report any known or suspected child abuse to law enforcement.

It makes sense that nonprofit organizations working with at-risk kids or adults would want to know that every volunteer has a clean record. But it’s also a good idea for nonprofits who want to ensure that their funds, vehicles, staff and volunteers are protected.