Should Your Nonprofit Organization Make Volunteer Background Checks Mandatory?

Posted by Kristina Taylor
February 16, 2010

Should Your Nonprofit Organization Make Volunteer Background Checks Mandatory?

Are you involved with a nonprofit organization?

If so, does it have mandatory background checks for volunteers?

If you said “no”, don’t feel ashamed, as you’re probably in the majority. Surprisingly, a good number of volunteer organizations – even many dealing with kids – have no policy of background checking the people who help out. And that can mean a world of problems down the road.

Want some reasons to implement background screening for your volunteers? We’ll give you three biggies:

  1. Do your volunteers ever collect money for the organization? If they do, how do you know that cash is getting to your nonprofit? A criminal background check can ferret out people who have sketchy histories when it comes to dealing with dollars.
  2. Do your volunteers ever have any opportunity to be with kids (even if it’s not “alone time”)? If you said “yes”, you can imagine what could happen if one of your helpers turned out to have a history as a sex offender or criminal.  This is the era of the Internet and news will travel faster than you think.
  3. Do your volunteers ever drive on behalf of your organization? If their driving records include DUIs or other vehicle-related incidents and there’s ever an accident, guess who will get blamed?

Now, we know that many volunteer organizations balk at the thought of paying for background checks.  After all, it’s a common misconception that screening costs an arm and a leg… and most nonprofits have little to spare.   However, conducting background checks is not nearly as pricey as most people believe. In fact, it’s much more affordable than the bad press that one incident can create.

Be safe and keep your organization healthy.  Always background check your volunteers.

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