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VT readers ask questions about volunteer management and administration. Ask Connie, an experienced volunteer manager, consultant and trainer, provides the answers for all to see.
Send questions to AskConnieP@cs.com

~2013 ~


Dear Connie:

My organization is planning to begin background checks for both staff and volunteers this year.  What advice do you have for me as the volunteer program manager?


Dear AN:

Background checks are very much a fact of life now.  While they seem very straightforward for staff, there are some specific things to consider for volunteers:

    • What kinds of volunteer positions require a background check?
    • What is included in the volunteer's background check?
    • Is the information requested relevant to the volunteer position?
    • Who pays for the volunteer's background check?
    • Is the volunteer's background check (1) required by law? (2) required by organization policy?
    • Is a volunteer's permission required before performing a background check?
    • Do prospective volunteers have the right to dispute inaccuracies in a background check and to receive a copy of their report?
    • How is the volunteer's privacy protected – who sees the volunteer's application, where is it stored, who has access to it, will it be sold or shared with other institutions?
    • What, if any, steps are taken to safeguard the volunteer's background check report?


You may meet some resistance from long-time volunteers who will wonder why their background needs to be checked now since they’ve been volunteering for the organization for a long time.  I recommend framing this new policy as one that your organization has adopted and it is being implemented for both existing staff as well as volunteers. 

If you’d like more information about volunteer screening and background checks, here are some good online resources:

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse 

KidSafePlus Coach and Volunteer Background Checks

Protect My Ministry

Energize, Inc. Volunteer Screening

Beyond Police Checks: The Definitive Volunteer Employee Screening Guidebook, by Linda L. Graff, available at VolunteerToday www.volunteertoday.com bookstore for $35.

Do you have a question? Now you too can ask an expert!

Connie Pirtle, of Strategic NonProfit-Resources, has 15 years' experience in working with volunteers. She has consulted and/or trained for such organizations as the Washington National Cathedral, Anchorage Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Music America, and the Association for Volunteer Administration.

Send your questions to Connie at AskConnieP@cs.com.
Connie Pirtle
Strategic Nonprofit Resources
314 E. Marie Dr. * Stillwater, OK 74075 * VOICE: 405.372.8142 or 202-306-1492

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