Do I Need a Background Check to Volunteer?

Volunteering is a great way to give back to your community and help support important causes. However, some volunteer organisations may require background checks on their volunteers before approving them. This is done to ensure the safety and security of the vulnerable people that volunteers work with.

Here at Global Investigations, we can provide a complete range of background checks to help organisations of all kinds make sure they’re working with reliable individuals. Whether you’re looking to volunteer, and you’re wondering whether you need a background check, or you’re an organisation looking to take on more volunteers, don’t hesitate to get in touch today.

Why Do Organizations Require Background Checks for Volunteers?

There are a few key reasons an organisation may require background checks on volunteers:

  • Working with vulnerable groups – Many volunteer roles involve working with children, the elderly, or people with disabilities. Organisations need to ensure volunteers do not pose a risk.
  • Handling finances/valuables – Some roles involve managing money or other assets. Background checks help avoid risks of theft or fraud.
  • Liability – The organisation can be liable for any harm caused by volunteers. Background checks limit this risk.
  • Reputation – Any incidents caused by volunteers can damage an organisation’s reputation. Screening volunteers protects their image.
  • Industry regulations – Some industries like healthcare have regulations requiring background checks on all staff and volunteers.

What is Checked in a Volunteer Background Check?

Volunteer background checks can range from basic to comprehensive, depending on the role. Common checks include:

  • Identity verification – Confirming the volunteer’s name, date of birth, address, etc.
  • Criminal history – Checking for any previous convictions for crimes like violence, theft, fraud.
  • Sex offender registry – Checking if the volunteer is on the national sex offender registry.
  • Driving records – For roles involving driving, driving offences may be reviewed.
  • Education/credentials – Verifying qualifications and professional licences if relevant.
  • Employment history – Confirming past employment details provided by the volunteer.
  • References – Speaking with provided references to get their feedback on the volunteer.

Who Has to Get a Background Check for Volunteering?

Whether background checks are required depends on the specific organisation and volunteer role. Some common scenarios where they are needed:

  • Volunteering with vulnerable groups like children, disabled, or elderly people.
  • Handling money, donations, or valuables.
  • Having access to sensitive information.
  • Driving a vehicle as part of the role.
  • Volunteer programs in healthcare, schools, religious institutions.
  • Leadership volunteer positions like board members or directors.

If you are unsure, check with the organisation before applying to volunteer. Many will make background check requirements clear in the job posting or on their website.

Who Pays for Volunteer Background Checks?

Organisations generally cover the cost of background checks for volunteers. They should have a policy specifying if volunteers are responsible for any fees. Some options include:

  • The nonprofit/organisation pays the full cost.
  • Volunteer pays and is reimbursed after a period, like 6 months or 1 year.
  • Cost is split between organisation and volunteer.
  • Volunteers pay the fees.

If the volunteer must pay, costs are typically $20-$50 depending on the depth of the check required.

Where Do You Get a Background Check for Volunteering?

If required by the roll, the organisation itself will facilitate the background check. They will provide instructions and forms for you to fill out.

The nonprofit may use the professional background check services of Global Investigations. As a reputable UK-based screening provider, Global Investigations offers comprehensive background checks for both businesses and individuals.

You will not have to source your own screening. Simply follow the process outlined by the organisation you are volunteering with.

Can You Volunteer With a Criminal Record?

It depends on the offence(s). Organisations tend to assess any criminal record individually. Minor offences like traffic tickets are less concerning. Violent crimes or offences against vulnerable groups are more likely to disqualify you from volunteering.

Be honest on your application. Some nonprofit programs can provide a second chance for reformed ex-offenders. If your offence directly relates to the volunteer role, you will likely not be approved. But other past minor convictions do not necessarily prohibit volunteering.

For Professional Background Check Services, Choose Global Investigations

Background checks help organisations engage suitable and safe volunteers. While not all nonprofits require them, screenings are increasingly common today. If you are interested in donating your time and skills, being prepared for a background check will make the process smoother.

Here at Global Investigations, we can provide a complete range of background check services for businesses and individuals. If you’re looking for specialist background investigation services, don’t hesitate to get in touch today.

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