Screening Our NGO Volunteers

September 25th, 2014 by Dodie

Helping for a good cause is always a good thing, especially if it is a non-profit one that’s for the betterment of a community. When people with positive intentions get together to support a worthy advocacy, only good things can come out of it, correct?

Well, a person with a criminal past and is associated with your group or organization can definitely make anyone question the integrity of your non-profit business. Screening volunteers is very important when it comes to your business, regardless of them not getting much or any kind of reward from it.

The Why of Screening Volunteers, Employees

It may sound absurd, but just imagine letting in a sex offender in your child research program, then suddenly it doesn’t sound absurd anymore. Not only can such information permanently put a dent on your organization’s reputation should it be found out, but it can endanger the very people that the program is attempting to support. It is not the right venue to give someone a chance to prove he has mended his ways. Let him do that some place else.

When it comes to your actual employees, screening beforehand is important because they are the face of your company. It is them who talk and deal with various sectors, them who promote your cause, them who face individual advocates to show and discuss how philantrophy and volunteerism help many. Therefore, any criminal hindrance that they may have had in the past could reflect on your company and what it stands for.

You are taking too much of a risk. The fact is, if an employee has had an issue in the past, say with theft, that can certainly be the nail in the coffin, no matter how positive the non-profit venture may be.

Stressing the Importance of Screening

How important is it to know if a potential employee or volunteer will pose a risk to you? Run a background check.

It has been found that 95 percent of all businesses fall victim of some sort to theft within the company. Theft has no boundaries, no matter what your cause is—only 10 percent of thefts are discovered within the company. Most of the missing assets are noticed after the employee leaves or, in worst case scenarios, the anomalous activities are discovered only when the business is already closed.

That’s just one of various very possible risks. This drives the point that being aware of a potential employee’s criminal status before employment is important and advised, a wise thing to do.

The Legality of Screening Volunteers

When it comes to legalities, there is no one law for the screening of volunteers, federal or state. However, it is important for your business to consider when putting the public image of the cause in regard, especially when considering how possible donors might see the organization.

The laws that apply to volunteers, who can still be considered as like employees of regular businesses, are as varied as the duties they perform in relation to the organization’s service to the community. Laws differ and are based on work details, from the job being performed to the type of organization the volunteering position is for.

The issue a volunteer may have regarding background checks is a sense of losing privacy if s/he allows it and a certain feeling of being seen as untrustworthy by the organization. Certainly, this can hinder their interest in doing volunteer work for them, and it comes as a bit of ungrateful of the non-profit business as the job is a non-paying one, or even very much underpaid, if paid at all. Why would it be necessary to do a background check on someone applying for just a volunteering position and doing it out of the goodness of his/her heart?

Then again, as a non-profit business, your most important clients are your beneficiaries. They are who you have to think of first and foremost. We cannot stress enough why screening is very much advised.

Volunteers may approve of screening or not, but it is up to them to stay and adhere to your rules, or to leave. As said, it is a volunteering work, so no one is being pushed into doing something s/he does not approve of.

When it comes to background checks, do what you think is necessary. If the issue of privacy or feeling of distrust are brought up, explain that screening actually adds legitimacy to their and the organization’s efforts. If for some reason other than having a questionable background doesn’t work in a potential employee’s favor, s/he can still be placed in a volunteering job that works for him/her, should s/he accepts the offer.

Not only do the volunteers, and non-profit employees, deserve to be in a situation where they are safe when supporting a positive cause, but you deserve workers who wholeheartedly support the oragnization’s mission and vision. It’s the cause and its beneficiaries who win in the end. As they should.

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