Volunteer Screening & Employment Screening: Is the Process the Same?

Estimated Read Time: 3 Minutes


The holiday season is fast approaching and a lot of organizations will be looking for volunteers. But would you believe that most organizations don’t screen their volunteers? For the organizations that do, there’s confusion on the process and the question that we hear a lot is “Do I screen volunteers the same way I screen potential employees?”

Why You Should Be Screening Your Volunteers

Screening volunteers has started to become more and more popular. But not every organization does it or realize why they should be screening volunteers. In the past ten years our company has seen multiple cases for why organizations should be screening volunteers and what it truly comes down to is safety.

Volunteers are great, and we always need more, but it’s important to know who’s volunteering for your organization. Volunteers are needed for many different task, serving food, helping the elderly, and sometimes dealing with children. If you have a volunteer working with children it is in your best judgement to find out about that volunteer. You don’t want to bring in a volunteer to represent your organization that may have a checkered past.

Is the Process the Same?

The legal requirements for running background checks on volunteers are the same as for potential employees. This comes as a shock for many because volunteers are not employees. But the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) regulations for the use of background checks apply to volunteers. If an organization isn’t currently following FCRA requirements when running background checks on volunteers it is imperative that that changes so that you stay compliant with FCRA laws.

Creating Policy for Volunteers

How do you know where to start when creating a policy for the standards you want upheld for your volunteers? Start with a decision matrix. A decision matrix – a form that is usually used to create company policy – is a form with a list of offenses that a company reviews to standardize which offenses are acceptable or not. When filling out the decision matrix you base your decision on unique requirements of the organization and all applicable federal, state, and municipal laws and regulations. Once you have created your decision matrix your organization can begin to create a policy for your volunteers to follow. Once that policy is in place your organization will know how to handle understanding what to do with the information you receive when screening your volunteers.

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Safety should be the number one priority when running an organization. Having that peace of mind and knowing that everyone will be ok is what you gain when you screen volunteers. But screening is only half the battle. Knowing how to screen correctly and what to look for, when using a company policy, will equip your organizations with the tools and knowledge to make the best choice and get the best volunteers to represent your organization.

Closing Thoughts

To learn more about volunteer screening check out our blog “Google and Facebook Are Not Substitutes for a Volunteer Background Check” here . For more great blogs and content please subscribe to our blogs here.