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Do All Associations Need a Volunteer Screening Process?

Do All Associations Need a Volunteer Screening Process?

Reduce Risk to Your Association with the 10 Steps of Volunteer Screening

Is a volunteer screening process necessary for everyone?

Are all volunteer roles considered equal?

How do you ask volunteers to go through a screening process if they are volunteering their time?

How do we say no?

How much time do you spend dealing with the interpersonal issues amongst volunteers?

Do any of these questions keep you up at night?

Screening volunteers is a key step all associations should consider implementing for their members. Doing so can ensure your organization has the right people in the right role. Volunteer screening also means you have done your due diligence in protecting your association's reputation and assets, minimizing liability.


10 Steps to Volunteer Screening

The following reviews the 10 Steps of Volunteer Screening. The steps help provide clear guidelines for developing volunteer screening polices and best practices to ensure the commitment and safety of all volunteers matches your organization's needs and values.


  1. Assessment: Identify and assess the risks presented by each volunteer position by rating the risk as high, medium or low.
  2. Position Descriptions: Ensure all volunteer positions have clear descriptions of responsibility, scope and accountability, and that volunteers review and agree to the role.
  3. Recruitment: Use a consistent and transparent means of recruiting volunteers, including key information to make informed decisions.
  4. Application Forms: All volunteers are required to complete application forms with standardized information to ensure you have the required content to support the volunteer and protect the association / organization.
  5. Interview: All volunteers should go through a transparent and consistent interview process, asking the appropriate questions to ascertain the volunteer's abilities to fulfil the role.
  6. Reference Checks: Check references in accordance to the pre-determined skills required for the role.
  7. Criminal Reference Checks: Based on the risks of the role, a criminal reference check may be required.
  8. Orientation and Training: It is important that all volunteers receive clear information on the mission, vision, policies and procedures related to their tasks and the position's scope.
  9. Support: Ensure there is a support mechanism in place so the volunteer knows who they need to reach out to. There must also be an ongoing process for performance feedback so volunteers have an opportunity to regularly provide feedback on their role.
  10. Evaluation: Ongoing review of the volunteer role, expectations and outcomes are key to understanding what is working and what requires further review to minimize risks. Ensure that all stakeholders have an opportunity to provide feedback.


These 10 steps of volunteer screening are a starting point for ensuring you have a solid risk management process in place. The steps also ensure you have the right people in place to regularly monitor volunteer activities, building support tools and resources, and providing education and support to all the stakeholders.

You will no longer be kept up at night, fingers crossed, if you follow these 10 steps and undertake a proper volunteer screening process.



Lori will be delivering more insight and understanding into volunteer engagement in her half-day session workshop and webinar, Managing Volunteer Risk: What Keeps You Up at Night? on March 23, 2017. Click the button below to reserve your spot. Don't miss out!




Lori Gotlieb was the 2012 recipient of the Linda Buchanan Award for Excellence in Volunteer Management.

Lori is a contributing author the Volunteer Management Handbook, 2nd Edition as well having numerous articles published in both print and online.

Lori is a Board Member and content reviewer for the International Journal of Volunteer Administration, past president of the Toronto Association of Volunteer Administration, mentor for the Provincial Association of Volunteer Administrators in Ontario. Lori continues to push the boundaries of traditional volunteer management through her writing and teaching.



Lori Gotlieb, Governance, Volunteers, Associations, Legal


Guest Contributor, Governance / Leadership



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