Why is it essential to establish appropriate screening processes for volunteers? The primary purpose of volunteer screening is to ensure a safe environment for your organization’s clients, staff, and volunteers.1 Organizations working with vulnerable populations in particular have a moral and legal obligation to screen volunteers, as stated in the concept of “Duty of Care,” which requires organizations to enact reasonable measures to ensure the safety of their beneficiaries.1
Screening is essential to manage the risks associated with your organization’s volunteer program. However, it also accomplishes other goals such as helping to match volunteers with appropriate volunteer opportunities.1
What does an effective screening process involve? Screening should be an ongoing process for all volunteers, and procedures must apply equally to all individuals within a particular role. Appropriate screening processes should be developed based on the level of risk associated with each volunteer role.2 For instance, a volunteer who will be supervising children will require a different screening process than a volunteer who will be collecting tickets at the registration table of a fundraising event.2
Depending on the position, screening may involve an application form, interviews, reference checks and / or a police records check, orientation to a new position, and supervision and evaluation.3
From "Accreditation Preparation Workbook Section E: Volunteer Involvement," Katharine Zywert, Social Prosperity Wood Buffalo at the University of Waterloo, 2013.
- “Screening,” Volunteer Canada.
- “The Canadian Code for Volunteer Involvement: Values, Guiding Principles, and Standards of Practice,” Volunteer Canada, 2012.
- “Best Practice Guidelines for Screening Volunteers,” Public Safety Canada, Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, 2008.