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To Screen or Not to Screen?

That often is the question that nonprofits ask themselves when deciding on whether to implement background screening as part of their volunteer process.

All too often nonprofits have a belief that “if volunteers are willing to spend their free time helping the organization… they would never do anything dishonest.”

Unfortunately, that is false. In fact, people with criminal records often view nonprofits as vulnerable and unsophisticated organizations that they can get involved with and take advantage of. Fortunately, there is a way to identify many of these individuals before they are brought on board: volunteer background screening.


It’s important to take the steps necessary to protect coworker, participants, company assets, reputation, and to minimize risk. Have you thought about what a volunteer scandal could do to your reputation with donors or potential volunteers?


A recent study conducted by the National Center for Victims of Crime1 conducted a survey of nonprofit human service organizations about how volunteers are screened. Conclusions from this study give some insight into nonprofit practices and what potential risk are.

· 517 organizations were surveyed

· 86% screen volunteers in some way

· 12% do not do any type of screening

· 72% of volunteers are screened using local databases but far fewer are screened using more comprehensive searches like county and state databases, sex offender registries, adult and child protective service databases


· Of those surveyed, 46% have encountered “inappropriate” candidates.

Despite the facts, many nonprofit organizations have strong opinions against volunteer screening.


Let’s look at 4 beliefs about volunteer background screening and why they are not true.


Keep an eye out for out next blog: #1 VOLUNTEER SCREENING IS EXPENSIVE


By: Michael Orum

Director of Non-Profit Partnerships


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Alliance Background

Coming Together to Reduce Risk