Archive for April, 2013

The Reasons For Volunteering Are Changing

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

People used to volunteer out of a sense of moral obligation; however, that seems to have changed over the years. Some volunteers are repaying a kindness done to them or a family member; others remember a positive experience from childhood and strive to make that same difference to another child. Still others want to improve their professional skills, meet people or just fill their spare time.

And with time is so limited, these days, volunteers are looking for more meaning in their volunteer experience. People are more distant from each other; they connect in online social networks, but don’t always have trusted relationships or a sense of belonging to a community.

Volunteering is a way to form those real relationships. And volunteer managers need to recognize this new reality, promote their organization’s ability to bring people together and let volunteers shape their own experience that will work for them.

How to you draw in people who are looking for solid relationships? By establishing a little one-on-one time. Ask potential volunteers for a cup of coffee. Or ask small groups of two or three for their help in brainstorming ways for new volunteers to get involved with your organization.

Attract volunteers who want connection by providing it. Tap into the passions people have for a good cause. Share your mission and ask for their involvement.

A Shocking Example of the Importance of Volunteer Screening

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

volunteer screening, volunteer background checkA sex offender was arrested in San Jose, Calif. for violating his probation by volunteering at a church festival, where children were present. He was spotted at the festival by an acquaintance of his victim.

Under the terms of his probation, the registered sex offender was prohibited from doing volunteer work with an organization that involves supervision of children less than 18 years of age. The 51-year-old man acknowledged the violation of his probation, and was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

Fortunately, this man was taken out of the situation before he could cause harm. But what if he had not been recognized? One or more children could have been harmed, and their lives permanently damaged. The church clearly failed in its duty to protect the children at the festival.

Why take such a risk? In this case, the priest in charge said the man “should be forgiven” (he has since resigned his position). In other cases, organizations fear that volunteer screening will scare off prospective volunteers. The evidence refutes this; in fact, being careful and thoughtful about whom you allow to volunteer with your nonprofit can make people feel better about the organization and its commitment to protecting vulnerable people of all ages.

Every volunteer position has its own set of risks. Those dealing directly with at-risk populations, such as the elderly, children, mentally disabled, animals or non-English speakers, should always require volunteer pre-screening, before any interaction takes place.

It’s a good idea to set up a risk analysis of each volunteer position in your organization. Those that involve trust, handling funds, working with vulnerable populations, driving or other potential areas for loss or damages should also require a background check, credit check or both.

Thousands of registered sex offenders and people convicted of sex, drug or violent crimes could be walking around your town. Don’t let them near your clients, staff or other volunteers! Know the facts before you bring anyone into your organization.