If you’ve ever managed a group of volunteers, you know that it’s no small feat. From orientation and training to budgeting and delegating tasks, overseeing volunteers can feel like a full-time job — for some volunteer coordinators, it is!
Volunteers are a reflection of your organization and, ultimately, your organization is responsible for the well-being of those they serve. That’s why one of the most important things you can do as a volunteer coordinator happens prior to volunteer orientation. That’s right — before a volunteer steps through your door, he or she should be carefully vetted via background checks.
Why Background Check?
You should background check volunteers for the same reasons you would check paid employees: to identify potential problems, such as a criminal history, that could endanger any child or adult they will encounter as a volunteer. A solid background check process can prevent:
- Youth abuse: The abuse of minors has become a prevalent issue among religious organizations big and small, urban and rural, throughout the country. You should background check volunteers — especially those who will be working with children — using the national sex offender registry (see below for more information).
- Theft and embezzlement: Does your organization rely on volunteers to handle finances — counting cash contributions or balancing an annual budget? Background checking volunteers who will be involved in an organization’s finances can help protect against losses from theft, fraud, or misappropriation of funds.
- Vehicle accidents: If part of your volunteers’ duties involve operating vehicles, you should first verify that their motor vehicle record reflects a safe, responsible driving history.
Need another reason to background check your volunteers? Not only will it help protect those you serve, it will also demonstrate to the broader community that you prioritize protecting common interests and preventing crime.
Background Check Best Practices
So, you understand the importance of background checks… but where do you begin? We answer the big questions around background checks below:
- Who should I background check? Background check anyone who volunteers with children, the elderly, or other vulnerable populations, as well as those who will handle money or transportation.
- When should I background check? Background check volunteers initially, when you’re considering them for a new position, as well as annually, to uncover anything previously undisclosed.
- What information should I background check? It can be tricky to identify which types of background checks will best serve your organization. We’ve partnered with Trusted Employees to help you select reputable and affordable background check options.
- How should I background check? The more access a volunteer has to vulnerable populations or your organization’s finances, the more intensely they should be checked. Make sure to background check at both a state and national level.
- Anything else? Prior to conducting the background check, get a signed authorization form from the applicant. On standalone forms, provide a clear and conspicuous background check disclosure.
In addition to partnering with Trusted Employees to help you select the best background check options for your organization, we’ve created a number of resources to help you throughout the background check process:
Reference Check Form
Authorization and Request for Criminal Records
The information contained in these materials is intended solely to provide general guidance on topics that may be of interest to you. While we have made reasonable efforts to present accurate and reliable information, Church Mutual Insurance Company, S.I. disclaims all liability for any errors or omissions, or for any actions you take or fail to take based on these materials. The information provided may not apply to your particular facts or circumstances; therefore, you should seek professional advice prior to relying on any information that may be found in these materials.