Screening volunteers is mission critical

Nearly 63 million people volunteer each year nationwide,1 helping human services organizations achieve their overarching mission. And, while these volunteers are crucial to extending the reach and capacity of an organization, they create additional risks for the organization as well.

“Just because an organization doesn’t pay volunteers, doesn’t mean it may not be held liable for their mistakes,” cautions Robert Brewer, Vice President, Industry Solutions. “The federal Volunteer Protection Act provides some protection from liability for the volunteers themselves, but not the organization. Proactive risk management along with a broad, thoughtful insurance protection can give human services agencies the peace of mind to focus on their mission.”

Are your clients screening volunteers?

Recent studies indicate that there’s room for improvement when it comes to screening volunteers, a critical step in minimizing risk and potential liability suits.

Who screens volunteers?

42% of organizations only screen some volunteers.2

88% of organizations do not screen short-term, one-time or infrequent volunteers.3

33% of organizations use motor vehicle checks and verify references, education and/or employment.2

16% of organizations conduct drug and health screenings.2

21% of organizations rescreen all volunteers.4


Must-haves of volunteer management

Comprehensive volunteer management is crucial to minimizing exposure and ensuring the safety of both the individuals served by the organization and the volunteers themselves. A sound volunteer management program includes:

  • Written policies and procedures, clearly defining roles and responsibilities of volunteers and staff
  • Onboarding practices that include thorough background checks — criminal, sex offender, ID verification, drug screenings and motor vehicle — of all applicants
  • In-person training with supporting printed or digital materials that address everything from the organization’s mission to policies and safety requirements
  • Volunteer waiver forms, if deemed appropriate
  • Ongoing supervision of work, task assignment and overall fit with the organization
  • Rescreening all volunteers at predetermined intervals


Bringing your value to organizations with volunteers

Asking your human services clients to share an overview of their volunteer management program can help you assess gaps in the program and offer additional coverages to round out their insurance solution. For example, if:

  • A complaint is made by a client about a volunteer, does the organization have proper procedures and training in place to manage the volunteer’s interactions with clients? Review the organization’s employment practices, general and professional liability policies to determine whether coverage is extended to include volunteers and their activities.
  • Volunteers use their own vehicles on behalf of the organization or to transport clients of the organization, the commercial auto policies should be reviewed.
  • Finances will be accessed or managed by volunteers, the organization may need coverage to protect against funds transfer fraud and forgery.


Partnerships help power human services organizations

Human services agencies often partner with other organizations, government identities and corporations to extend their reach. You can offer them another valuable partnership to help them stretch their already-strained budgets — an insurance carrier that includes complimentary access to risk analysis, training resources and discounts with vendor partners, as well as ample insurance protection. 

With Hanover Human Services Advantage, you can provide a robust suite of products that can be tailored to meet the unique needs of human services organizations. Plus, The Hanover offers access to discounted background checks to human services clients to help set a foundation of safety.


1 Corporation for National & Community Service
2 Guidestar by Candid
3 Verified Volunteers
4 Points of Light