Volunteers and Liability

Does your organization have a volunteer selection policy in place?  PND News, in the January 4, 2006 article, Nonprofits Need to Do More to Vet Volunteers, citing an earlier article in the San Diego Union-Tribune, discusses some typical problems faced by nonprofits, including very large and established organizations, that fail to run background checks on their volunteers.  The article addresses the potential problem of theft, but other potential problems associated with the indiscriminate selection of a volunteer include some harm caused by the volunteer (resulting in a claim of negligent "hiring"), drop in team chemistry and morale, reduction in service quality, and claims of discrimination resulting from the termination of a problem volunteer.

There are many other considerations that should be recognized and addressed with respect to volunteer management.  For organizations without much structure to their volunteer management policies, the following resources may be helpful:

Nonprofit Management Risk Center:  No Surprises Volunteer Risk Management Tutorial

Energize, Inc.:  Step 2:  Screening

ServiceLeader.org:  For Volunteer Managers

MAP for Nonprofits:  Developing and Managing Volunteer Programs