Volunteers are fundamental to society, from working with children’s groups to helping in a hospital, they provide essential services, often with little recognition or gratitude. Volunteers are in high demand and open roles can be difficult to fill. Taking steps to ensure that a person is the right fit for a volunteer position is important for many reasons, including matching their skills with the role, ensuring the safety of the community, and protecting the liability of your organization.
Recruiting volunteers should consist of multiple steps, including interviews and background checks, followed by structured and engaging training. Conducting background checks is a necessary step when onboarding not only new employees, but also volunteers. Screening is especially important for organizations that work with vulnerable people, including children and seniors, to help reduce risk for individuals and organizations.
1. Volunteer Retention
By conducting due diligence on your volunteers, it helps to ensure they are the right fit for the position. When choosing an individual that is a better fit for a specific role it improves the experience for the volunteer and organization, resulting in the volunteer staying in the role longer.
2. Organization Reputation
Your organization’s reputation is important not only for attracting new volunteers but also for the comfort of the clients and people you work with. Conducting interviews and background checks can reduce the of liability for your organization by ensuring reasonable due diligence has been completed.
Not doing the basic due diligence when selecting volunteers can put those they work with at risk. Performing references on the volunteer can confirm that there are no concerns about their past behaviour that can impact their ability to be a good volunteer. Criminal record checks can help with safety concerns. Any convictions that a volunteer has can be reviewed and assessed for how recent and relevant it is in relation to the volunteer position.
To help with assessing volunteers and whether their skills and experience would be a good fit for the volunteer position. Having someone with previous experience in the same type of volunteer role can be an asset.
The interview processes should be smooth and organized. Ask questions that are applicable to your organization and the position. Be sure to ask the same questions of all candidates for the same role to maintain consistency.
Consider using a video-interviewing service, such as this one from Charity Village, to help with pre-screening volunteers.
Conducting references with previous employers or volunteer supervisors can provide insight into the volunteer’s past performance and experience, providing your organization with peace of mind when choosing them for a role.
References can become time consuming to do and take away from other important tasks that the volunteer managers have on a day-to-day basis.
Outsourcing references to a third-party provider can save your organization significant time, and often results in a higher completion rate for references. eReferences can be an easy way to get a well-rounded view of your candidate’s chances of being a successful volunteer. Working with your provider to create custom question sets for different volunteer roles can also help streamline your screening process.
3. Criminal Record Checks
Completing an Enhanced Criminal Record Check on all volunteers should be a requirement for most organizations. Ensuring that the individual does not have any criminal convictions that are recent or relevant to their volunteer position will help with the safety of other volunteers, and those they are working with.
An Enhanced Criminal Record Check will search the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) using the candidate’s name and date of birth. The Investigative, Identification and Ancillary data banks are included in this search, as well as local police records which includes the Police Information Portal (PIP). This will help discover any Canadian Criminal Convictions that the individual has not been pardoned or discharged for, as well as information on outstanding warrants, pending charges and releasable discharges. A detailed overview of Canadian Criminal Record Checks can be found in this article.
The quality of your organization’s volunteer onboarding is an important step to retaining volunteers and should be considered the same way employers review a candidate’s experience.
Here are some tips for evaluating your volunteer onboarding process:
1. Ease of Background Screening
When selecting a background screening provider to help with your volunteer screening program, consider how easy it is for the volunteer to go through the process. If the background check is time consuming, often volunteers will drop out of the process and go to another organization.
A few important features of your provider should be:
- A Mobile Optimized Process
Ensure that a mobile optimized process is available for both the recruiter and the volunteer. This allows them to complete their consent from their phone or tablet, at any time, speeding up the background check process.
- Volunteer Payment Options
Although background screening is vital to a successful volunteer program, not all nonprofit organizations have a budget for it. With the right background screening vendor, your volunteers will have the option to pay for their own criminal record check and references. Using a unique URL, branded for your organization, volunteers can get started with their background check in minutes and pay for it online using a credit card.
- Branded Experience
Keeping your organizations brand top of mind for the volunteer as they are going through the entire background screening process. Look for a third-party provider that allows you to include your logo and organization’s name in messaging throughout the screening process.
Although training a new volunteer can be time consuming, putting in the effort at the beginning to train them correctly can save time in the long run. Providing training to your volunteers will help them be successful in their role and represent your organization in a positive way.
Retaining volunteers is a struggle for many nonprofit organizations. By adding a screening program into the recruitment process, it can help with volunteer retention.
To learn more about screening your volunteers, contact one of our nonprofit experts here.