Organizations that engage volunteers in their operations should take special care to manage the risks associated with volunteer service. The following risk management strategies can help minimize the risk of volunteer service in your organization and maximize the benefits that volunteers bring to an organization:
- Use a volunteer application form to collect information from anyone who wishes to volunteer at your nonprofit. The application should be reviewed and checked for references. If the volunteer is providing direct services to your clients or vulnerable populations (i.e. children, elderly, disabled), a screening procedure should include criminal history background checks and reference checks.
- Obtain the volunteer applicant’s permission to verify any and all information on the application.
- Use a Volunteer Agreement to set forth the terms of the volunteer’s position in the organization. The volunteer agreement should be customized and based on the work that the volunteer will perform for the nonprofit.
- Provide an orientation and training program to make sure the volunteer thoroughly understands his responsibilities and its limitations. The orientation program should also include a grievance process that provides the volunteer information on how to express dissatisfaction or concerns within the organization.
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*Always consult with your attorney to review all agreements.