Background Checks for Volunteers in the Non-Profit Sector - Why Are They Important?

May 31, 2021

Interview (US content, not applicable to Canada)

Background Checks for Volunteers; Helping You Make Informed Hiring Decisions

Many not-for-profit organizations often overlook background checks for their volunteers. Charities might be under the assumption that because they rely on the generosity and free time of volunteers, they don't need to conduct background checks when they hire. Volunteers, of course, work for free, and those who run charities likely already have their budgets stretched thin.

Free labor could be hard to come by, but that doesn’t mean a charity shouldn’t complete its due diligence. Many HR professionals would argue that proper due diligence is even more important for charities, as those you serve are likely to be vulnerable populations. Should an organization fail to perform appropriate due diligence, a charity could be held liable for misconduct.

Background Checks Provide a Clear Picture of Your Volunteers

Charities of all kinds will benefit from screening their volunteers and protecting those they serve while preserving their reputation. NGOs, conservation organizations, disaster relief, community outreach, and child sponsorship programs have important missions and reputations within the community that need to be continually upheld. One bad hire can bring negative press that could result in the community losing faith in the organization’s mission and withdrawing donations.

Criminal background checks, including financial and credit checks, driving records, and education verification, can reveal whether or not a candidate has been truthful throughout the hiring process. This information can help HR managers, and founders within the charitable sector make important hiring decisions based on a complete portrait of a candidate. This way, HR managers can dive well beyond resumes and interviews and make the best hiring decision possible.

Volunteer Button Background Checks for Volunteers: Implementation Within Your Organization

In some cases, a charity may find a candidate that has the assumption that if they are willing to work for free, they will be offered the position. The truth, however, is that HR managers have the right to reject a candidate for any reason. This fact should be presented to candidates early on in the hiring process, either within the job description online in an organization's career or volunteer page. Being upfront and transparent about the hiring process is important, and outlining clear expectations from the beginning can reduce unpleasant interactions between HR managers and potential candidates.

Make it known to all candidates that they will have to consent to a background check as a condition of hiring. Communicating this message at the beginning of the hiring process will reduce confusion and scare away candidates that have a problematic criminal history that might conflict with the organization’s mission. This transparency could save the organization time and improve the charity’s reputation within the public and promote a safe and healthy volunteer culture.

Regular and Continuous Background Checks for Volunteers

It’s important to consider that one clean criminal background check doesn’t mean that the candidate won’t act poorly in the future. Completing your due diligence is an ongoing process. If your charity interacts with vulnerable sectors, including children and the elderly, proper due diligence will require you to conduct routine background checks.

Properly complete your due diligence and protect those you serve, along with your business’ reputation.

Worker on Volunteer Background Checks with

In some cases, conducting a full background check is highly complicated and best performed by third parties that are experienced in Canada and United States. offers incredible background check solutions for owners and HR managers of charitable organizations across North America. We offer simplicity, agility, and accuracy, allowing you to dive deep into the background histories of your candidates. With our products, charitable and non-profit organizations can request that volunteers complete and provide their background checks as a condition of hiring, helping to save you time and money.

Complete your due diligence and protect the vulnerable populations you serve with Contact us directly to learn more.