All volunteers help contribute the skills, manpower and enthusiasm your organization needs to succeed without breaking the bank. But long-term volunteers can add value to your organization year after year.

While we would all like to believe volunteers get involved in causes and organizations for the right reasons, it isn’t always the case. Your affiliate could be a victim of crime, suffer public relations issues or be held liable for a volunteer’s actions. Plus, with the high-risk activity that can be associated with build projects, like heavy lifting, carpentry and more, there is always a chance for volunteer injuries.

Because volunteers can present risk to your affiliate, it is important to thoroughly screen volunteers seeking long-term positions.

Long-Term Volunteer Screening Guidelines

Follow these 8 tips when screening volunteers to reduce the risk to your affiliate and turnover of volunteer staff:

1. Create an application process—Having a process that’s consistent and repeatable greatly reduces the risk your affiliate faces and makes it less likely you’ll make a mistake during screening or in the choice of your volunteers.

2. Have everyone fill out a form—Ask those who want to volunteer to fill out a form, instead of accepting resumes. It helps you ensure you ask everyone the same questions and get all the important details you need.

3. Ask the right questions—Ask open-ended questions about motivation to volunteer, education and work experience. Note special skills and talents like former construction experience that can be beneficial. Ensure volunteers will be able to lift up to 50lbs or other requirements that are necessary to aid with construction builds.

4. Check references—Ask for and check the references of all volunteer candidates. Confirm the nature of the relationship, how long they’ve known them and listen for insights into the potential volunteer’s personality and work ability.

5. Interview potential volunteers—A phone or in-person interview is a great chance to get to know your potential volunteer better. Show gratitude for those willing to help out the affiliate, ask questions about their past experience and current skillset, explain the opportunity and answer their questions.

6. Do a background check—Stakes are high for volunteer tasks involving driving, leading work crews, doing manual labor and working with vulnerable populations. Check for criminal records, acts of dishonesty and other problems.

7. Watch for red flags—When things don’t add up, it could be a sign of a deeper problem. Make sure resumes, interview answers and references agree with each other about the facts.

8. Require volunteer training and signed waivers—Have your volunteers complete any necessary training and require all volunteers to sign this waiver before they begin work. An updated waiver should be completed annually.


Protecting Your Volunteers and Affiliate

Remember it’s important to screen long-term volunteers, just like you would any potential employee, before they begin working for your affiliate. Proper screening can help prevent both volunteer injuries and insurance claims.

After you’ve verified who you are working with, you can trust them with more responsibility and make meaningful change in your organization and communities.