As much as you would like to trust every volunteer that comes to your organization wanting to help, you can’t. The potential volunteer gives you a fantastic first impression and you may even have an initial application that your volunteer fills out. Everything seems okay when they first start volunteering and you’re grateful for the extra help, but then a few weeks go by and that volunteer is not the same person who walked through your organization’s door that first day. It may seem like an extreme situation, but this is actually something that happens quite often.
Think about all of the screening that occurs when you get a job. You have an initial interview, sometimes a second interview, tons of paperwork, and most times, a background check. You would not want an unscreened employee. A volunteer is basically an unpaid employee; why not screen them, too?
Considering that most nonprofit organizations get some sort of deal with screening companies, it would be a mistake to pass on that deal. Nonprofits are held responsible for their volunteers and if a volunteer does something to jeopardize the nonprofit, the cost is on the nonprofit.
Also, screening will save the nonprofit time in the long run. It doesn’t take much longer to add a “screening section” to an application, but it does take a lot of time to train a new volunteer. If the nonprofit has qualified, screened volunteers from the get-go, they will save tons of valuable time and money.
The people who volunteer for your organization are representing you to the public. For example, I just volunteered an animal adoption event yesterday. It was me and two other volunteers from the local humane society. Everyone we spoke to asked us questions, as if we were the people running the humane society. Not only were we the “spokespeople of the humane society” for that event, but we were also featured on the news, representing the humane society. Would you want someone you don’t trust to be your organization’s spokesperson? Probably not.
You will save yourself a lot of future hassles by having some sort of screening process for your volunteers. Everyone involved with your organization will be thankful for it.