Why You Should Screen Volunteers for Your Nonprofit Organization

by J.B. Maverick

2 min read

Anyone who works with or for your nonprofit acts as a face for your organization. While volunteers are not paid employees, and often their time with your organization is fairly short, they still interact with others under the umbrella of the nonprofit’s name. This can have a variety of implications. Just as you would screen the employees you hire, you want to screen the volunteers you have working with and for your organization.

The Need for Background Checks

A thorough screening process is necessary to understand the background of the person doing work for your organization. Workers may have a criminal record or history of being less-than-honest employees. You want to be aware of their past to protect other workers and the organization as a whole. Your nonprofit’s success relies heavily on the dependability and trustworthiness of the workers who help run it.

Screening

Screening volunteers begins the moment your organization creates a new position or an existing position becomes vacant. This process is vital and should be continued throughout the duration of the volunteer’s stay with your nonprofit. As your nonprofit screens potential volunteers, it enables you to better match individuals with positions that suit their strengths and helps ensure acquiring quality volunteers. Screenings work to keep your organization and clients safe and effective.

The Screening Process

There are 10 steps to the volunteer screening process in Canada.

  1. First, you want to conduct a full inventory of the segments and programs involved in your organization, and determine necessary volunteers for each, taking into consideration the risk you face if an unscrupulous volunteer comes on board.
  2. The second step is outlining necessary volunteer positions and writing clear expectations of each role that needs to be filled.
  3. The third part of the screening process is recruitment. Make key information about your nonprofit available, as well as pertinent facts about roles you are trying to fill. This will help in generating viable candidates.
  4. Interested individuals should be asked to fill out standard application forms, just like prospective employees. This provides the information you need for step five.
  5. Step five is bringing in promising candidates for a face-to-face interview. This enables you to put a face to the name and basic information that’s been provided, and helps you get a better sense of the individual person.
  6. Steps six and seven are vital to moving forward with the individuals who had successful interviews. The sixth step is checking application information, contacting references, and conducting basic background checks if the position warrants it.
  7. Step seven, running a criminal history check, applies to any individuals who will be working with or around any money, or any sensitive organizational information.
  8. Step eight of the process involves the orientation and training of volunteers. This is the foundation of their success as volunteers and, ultimately, the success of your nonprofit.
  9. Step nine, which occurs as a volunteer begins work, is having a senior member of your team supervising the work and offering support when needed.
  10. The final step is generally ongoing. Try to seek feedback from staff and clients about a volunteer’s work. Any potential problems that may be developing with a volunteer can often be stopped before they harm your organization.

Screening volunteers is vital to your nonprofit’s success and protection, and there are several steps to this process.

References & Resources

Related Articles

Safeguarding Your Volunteers Against Burnout

Volunteers play a critical role in your nonprofit organization. They allow you…

Read more

4 Ways to Retain Your Nonprofit's Volunteers

Volunteers are the lifeblood of your nonprofit organization. Since many nonprofits operate…

Read more

10 Tools to Optimize Your Volunteer Pool

Canadians volunteer a total of 2 billion hours annually. That’s the equivalent…

Read more