Nonprofit organizations have a responsibility to make sure their organizations are safe for those they serve as well as those who work or volunteer for them.  Nonprofits therefore have to integrate an effective risk management program into all of their planning and operations.  The basic goal of risk management is to enhance the level of awareness of the risks associated with volunteer and community service work.

There are several components that go into developing an effective risk management program for your volunteer operations.  Two of the most critical functions begin with the Screening and Orientation Process.


  • Establish a screening policy that outlines which positions will require more extensive screening i.e. criminal history/background check.
  • Volunteers that work directly with a vulnerable population i.e. seniors, children, disabled, home-bound, etc., should have a criminal history screening.
  • Volunteers that work with or around sensitive data should also have a criminal history screening so as to ward off potential cyber or financial liability problems.
  • Verify the volunteer’s applications and credentials as well as follow-up on reference checks.
  • If volunteers are required to use their own vehicles or drive agency-owned vehicles, verify their current automobile insurance plus obtain a copy of their current driving record (Motor Vehicle Report).


  • The amount of time needed for training will depend on the nature of the job. 
  • Inform the volunteer of the policies and procedures of the organization.
  • Volunteers should have a position description that outlines their duties.
  • Orientation training should include clear information on Acceptable Conduct, Grievance Policy, Safety Procedures and Emergency Procedures

Proper documentation is critical for a well run risk management program.  Volunteers should sign an acknowledgement indicating that they have read and agree to abide by the nonprofit’s policies, including a waiver of liability.

*This is intended for informational purposes only