Eight Popular Background Checks for Volunteer Organizations

Posted Thursday, April 5th, 2018 by Sterling Volunteers Staff

Eight Popular Background Checks for Volunteer Organizations

Sterling Volunteers’ “Volunteer Screening Trends and Best Practices Report: 2018” offers insights into the current state of volunteer programs, from current screening practices to challenges to be overcome. The report is based off a nationwide survey conducted on individuals who are involved in running volunteer programs to better understand their background screening needs and processes. The 967 survey responders represented a wide range of organizations including social and human services, education, healthcare, religious and youth development groups. Responders were mostly volunteer managers and program managers and directors whose organizations rely heavily on unpaid volunteers.

What Types of Checks are Volunteer Organizations Conducting?

The overwhelming majority of survey respondents (92%) said they conduct criminal record checks. The next most common background check used by volunteer organizations is the sex offender search at 73%. Moving down the list, 41% use identity verifications, 33% use motor vehicle checks and verify for employment and/or education, 16% conduct drug and health checks, 12% conduct social media checks and 6% conduct credit or financial checks.

There is a wide variation among types of criminal record searches that organizations conduct.Two-thirds of responding organizations conduct sex offender searches, but only 27.36% of organizations search neglect and abuse records. Just over half of organizations undertake current state-county searches and nationwide-multistate database searches. Only around four in ten organizations look at local arrests/sheriff’s office records and federal databases. Other criminal record searches include prior address county-state searches (conducted by 36.48% of organizations) and alias/maiden name searches (conducted by 31.67% of organizations.) One in four organizations requires fingerprinting for some or all their volunteers. But, according to our survey, only one-third of organizations use fingerprinting as a component of volunteer screening.

Eight Most Popular Types of Background Checks

Let’s look at eight of the most popular background checks to get insights into what information they can provide to a volunteer management team:

  1. Criminal Checks: Criminal background checks are the anchor to most background screening programs. A Social Security Number Trace is the foundation for background check screening. From this search, you can see county, state and nationwide court records and criminal databases.
  2. Sex Offender Registry: Sterling Volunteers searches the Dru Sjodin Department of Justice National Sex Offender Public Website Registry (NSPOW) which includes real-time listings of registered sex offenders in 49 states, offering complete and current reporting of any convictions and/or
  3. ID Verification: ID verification gives organizations an added layer of security, protecting against the possibility that a volunteer candidate has submitted a false social security number or government-issued identification for their background check. Today, advanced photo technologies can help verify that an ID used in a screening process is a legitimate government-issued ID.
  4. Motor Vehicle Checks: Motor Vehicle Record checks are a key part of any background check for volunteers who will drive an organization’s vehicle or operate machinery. These records highlight driving history over the past three to seven years and are available in all 50 U.S. states, as well as Washington D.C.
  5. Employment and Education Verification: Employment verification services contact the past employer’s human resources and payroll departments to make sure that the candidate’s information is correct. Education verifications confirm a volunteer’s educational history including diplomas/degrees earned, dates attended, and area of study. These checks are conducted to see if volunteers are embellishing their education, job titles, responsibility, payroll and start and end dates on their application or resume.
  6. Drug Tests: Volunteer substance abuse can have productivity and financial impact on an organization. Volunteer managers rely on drug screening to eliminate illicit drug users from the group of potential volunteer candidates as well as deter current volunteers from using drugs on the job.
  7. Social Media Checks: Social media screening can be very valuable to volunteer managers during the onboarding process, as it humanizes the candidate. On the other hand, social media profiles can reveal both positive and negative information in what is a very public domain. Social media searches should be carried out as late in the recruitment process as reasonably practical to avoid any biases.
  8. Credit/Financial Checks: Credit or financial checks will show a comprehensive credit history and provide public record information, plus other items that are not typically included on volunteer applications. Credit checks can provide organizations with insight into a volunteer’s sense of financial responsibility and stability. Credit checks are a useful tool for limiting the potential liability of fraud, theft and various white-collar crimes.

More Volunteer Background Screening Insights and Best Practices

Sterling Volunteers offers background checks of the highest quality and accuracy. We use proprietary technology and a set of unique criminal locators to find more criminal records at America’s county and state courthouses and to deliver the most accurate information available about your volunteers.

For more insights and best practices for the volunteer screening industry, download “Volunteer Screening Trends & Best Practices Report 2018”. You can also watch our webinar, “Volunteer Screening 2018: Research Results & Insights” which discusses the top trends from the report on-demand at any time.

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