WHY IS VOLUNTEER SCREENING SO IMPORTANT?
Volunteer organizations make a positive impact on our communities every day through their dedicated service and selfless commitment. Nonetheless, there are situations of individuals who gain access to organizational resources for their personal pursuits; leaving nonprofits crippled and unable to continue providing to the communities they love to serve.
Here are three reasons why it is important for an organization to invest in volunteer background screening:
1. State/Federal Regulations: Some states enforce screening on volunteers for positions that involve working with children*. For example, Pennsylvania passed a law in 2014 that requires all individuals who work with students to obtain background checks. Nebraska is another example in which, an individual volunteer whom will be working directly with a client/resident/member/youth, must pass a thorough background check completed; including the Child and Adult Abuse Registries, law enforcement, Motor Vehicle, and personal references.
*Make sure to check your state’s regulations before proceeding with any screening.
2. Public Responsibility and Reputation: Organizations heavily involved in the community are responsible for ensuring their volunteers are acting responsibly and with the public’s best interest in mind. The safety of both employees and individuals those employees are attempting to serve is a top priority. Organizations that establish high levels of trust can leverage their reputation with positive influence. On the other hand, organizations who fall victim to the repercussions of criminal behavior are viewed as vulnerable and unable to handle confidential information.
3. Overall Liability: Volunteers who come in direct contact with vulnerable populations (for example children/youth) or who handle any personal, confidential information increase your legal liability as an organization. Therefore, if an organization permits an individual to perform duties under these categories without previously conducting a background screening, they are entirely liable for negligence.
Please note: Stay aware of your community’s overarching regulations as well as state and federal law to ensure you remain compliant. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) rules still apply; therefore, volunteers must give consent before being screened and hiring personnel must follow Adverse Action procedures to remain compliant.