Alliance of Therapy Dogs is one of the largest therapy dog organizations in the United States.
Since 1990, the nonprofit has provided therapy dog testing, registration, support, and insurance
for volunteers who participate in animal-assisted activities like visits to hospitals, special needs
centers, mental health facilities, schools, nursing homes, and more. At ATD, they’re dedicated to
ensuring all dogs have the right temperament and wellbeing for therapy regardless of breed or age
and have a strong relationship with their owners. With over 15,000 volunteers nationwide, ATD is
dedicated to bringing support and joy to those who need it most through top-notch pet therapy.
Alliance of Therapy Dogs was relying on public record data and self-reporting information
during the volunteer review and approval process. This proved to be error prone, so they
sought a more reliable background screening solution and selected Sterling Volunteers based
on their ability to streamline their screening process and deep experience working with the
nonprofit sector. “Sterling Volunteers had extensive knowledge and experience working with
other therapy organizations and nonprofits and we were very comfortable with that,” said
Billie Smith, Executive Director of Alliance of Therapy Dogs.
Alliance of Therapy Dogs discovered that prospective volunteers weren’t always providing honest
answers on their applications. They had a disclaimer asking volunteers if they had past felonies and
if they answered “no,” the volunteer would be passed through to the next step in the review process.
“One day a new member called to let us know our system was flawed, as she answered “no” to
having a past felony, even though she had one,” said Smith. “She had already received her certificate
for approval and that’s when we realized we needed a more reliable solution for conducting our
volunteer background checks,” she said.
They began searching for a background screening solution and one of their members suggested
Sterling Volunteers. Alliance of Therapy Dogs research and investigation committee sat down with
Sterling Volunteers and set a date for implementation shortly after. “We knew we needed to go live
January 1, 2018, to ensure the new background check process was clearly outlined in our new
member handbooks,” said Smith. “Sterling Volunteers worked with us to get ramped up in a short
timeframe. It’s given us a tool we didn’t have before for seamless background checks and reporting.
It’s so nice to work with a company that understands who we are and what we do.”
Sterling Volunteers has helped Alliance of Therapy Dogs transform their background screening process
to easily identify red flags and ensure Alliance of Therapy Dogs gets the right volunteers working with
their therapy dogs in the field. “We get around 3,000 applicants a year, and it’s nice to have a reliable
solution to eliminate the chance of misinformation provided by prospective volunteers,” said Smith.
The implementation process was painless for Alliance of Therapy Dogs, even with volunteers who
aren’t the most tech-savvy. “We have an older member base in their 60’s and even some in their
80’s, but overall, our online background check process has been running very smoothly,” said Smith.
“We don’t have the hassle of shuffling paper-based forms around and the dashboards make it easy
to flag criminal history and past felonies which helps us rest easier at night.”
Sterling Volunteers’ dashboard reports have helped Smith’s team gain a holistic understanding of the
growing number of interested volunteers and given them insight to share with their Board of Directors.
“Our board loves the reports,” said Smith. “It’s nice to have statistics that show user interest to point to
in our board meetings, and the reports also help our team plan for future growth.”
Wait! Have you been directed to complete a background check for a specific nonprofit? If so, please follow the direct link on their website or in the email invitation you may have received. Or click here to link to your organization with a Good Deed Code.