Volunteer Screening is Often Mandated
Nonprofit organizations don’t have it easy these days. From cuts in state funding to lower donations from supporters, many charitable organizations must battle every day just to keep the doors open. And not all have succeeded. With all the difficulties facing NPO directors, they have their hands full. Added regulations and time-intensive requirements can seem unnecessary.
But there is one that is not: conducting background checks on volunteers. “Why should we be required to run background checks?” said one NPO director. “I don’t have the time or budget, and all of our volunteers are model citizens.”
This must be one lucky NPO manager! Others have not been so lucky. Volunteers come from all backgrounds, and just like the general public, there are a certain percentage of honest volunteers, dishonest volunteers, and volunteers with criminal histories—or worse, sex offender status.
Despite a lack of time or budget, nonprofit organizations depending on federal and state funding to serve their clients could be mandated by state and federal governments to conduct background screening. Specifically, those providing day care or child care services, or that bring employees or volunteers into contact with minors or vulnerable adults, are typically required to perform background checks on all employees and volunteers.
In addition, federal programs or those with federal contracts are required to conduct criminal background checks on both employees and volunteers. The same is often true in some states, if any state funds are used by the organization.
Any NPO that plans to conduct background checks must notify the potential volunteer and obtain written consent by way of a signature on a notification page. It’s easy enough to add this document to a volunteer application.
Whether it’s mandated or not, it’s just good practice to conduct background checks on potential volunteers. Why not take this easy step to protect your staff, clients and other volunteers from potential danger of an unknown volunteer’s unknown problems?