We are occasionally asked whether nonprofit employees can volunteer for their nonprofit employer. The answer of course, is that it depends. Volunteers often play a
While many nonprofits may be enjoying the surge in volunteerism, relying on volunteers can come with its share of risks. Still, abiding by a few key practices can ensure that both the nonprofit organization and its volunteers get the most out of the experience.
A nonprofit can never be too careful when screening its employees and volunteers. As such, more are conducting due diligence on their employees and volunteers. This is particularly true for those that serve vulnerable populations like children, the elderly, or abuse victims. Part of that diligence is having the volunteer fingerprinted for a background check. If your organization is considering adding this step to its due diligence, do you know where to go for fingerprint background checks?
Minimizing legal exposure is important because volunteers’ acts are generally imputed to the nonprofit organization. Specific, written volunteer policies and procedures are critical. Important components of a good volunteer program include clear and forward-thinking volunteer policies, thorough volunteer applications, screening, and management.
Self policing allows serious problems to fall through the cracks. The most significant failure of self-policing seems to be a knee-jerk desire to protect the organization rather than the purported victim. This results in a failure to report allegations of abuse to the authorities, and instead be willfully blind to crimes committed against children. Institutional behaviors of denial, irresponsibility, cover-ups and possible criminal behavior seem to thrive in a self-policing organization. Jerry Sandusky’s case is a clear example of this willful blindness. Tolerating or ignoring abuse to children under the care of charitable organizations that are supposed to nurture and protect them undermines the noble purpose of such entities and thus weakens the organization.