The Big "Screen"

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Volunteer background screening should play an important role in a volunteering program. It  can protect your staff, your volunteers, the people your program is helping, and can keep communities safer. Sterling Volunteers (formerly Verified Volunteers) helps organizations run background screening programs simply, quickly, and cost-efficiently– but it’s also important to consider how those background screening programs affect a volunteer’s experience. Here, we explore that question.

In the fall of last year, we conducted a survey, asking more than 7,000 volunteers, who they are and how they like to volunteer. After conducting the research, we put together a report, The Volunteer Perspective – Industry Insights 2019. 

What do volunteers really think about background checks?

When we analyzed the survey findings, we found that some volunteers actually prefer to volunteer with organizations that run background checks – around half of the 7,215 respondents we surveyed said that background checks have a positive impact on their volunteering experience. This suggests that many volunteers prefer giving their time to an organization that is taking proactive measures to keep everyone safe.

We also found that very few volunteers said they’re firmly against background screening when asked for their opinion. In fact, only 5% of respondents said that a background check negatively affects how they feel about volunteering. Perhaps with more education about the values of background screening and how it can make volunteer programs stronger, the 5% would come onboard.

Volunteers are genuine in their beliefs on this issue – 65% of those who say screening has a positive impact on their decision to volunteer also say they aren’t concerned about undergoing background checks, as long as their data is secure. When it comes to background screening, volunteers walk the talk (and if we know anything about volunteering, that “walk” is a 5K!).

A collective concern for volunteers is sharing their social security number. Good news is, they don’t necessarily have to. 

Among the minority who have concerns about background checks, 63% of volunteers said that sharing their social security number was their primary concern. In fact, it was the most popular opinion among the open-ended responses.

However, the records that Sterling Volunteers searches are filed by name, not social security number. We only request social security numbers when organizations need us to run what’s known as a “Social Security Trace.” This check provides a volunteer’s address history over the last seven years and may be needed, or even required, by an organization before onboarding a volunteer.

Volunteers have an interest in owning their own set of digital credentials, which verifies their background check and more. 

Survey respondents were introduced to the idea of a digital credential that would prove their identity, verify background check history, track training and hours, and allow them to check in at volunteer locations. Over 60% of volunteers expressed interest in a shareable volunteer-focused credential.

We also asked volunteers about their feeling on their own portable background check – more than 50% of respondents expressed interest. This portable background check would empower volunteers to own their background check and share it with volunteer organizations, rather than undergoing a background check each time they volunteer for a new cause. We then asked volunteers what they would be willing to pay, and the average amount noted was $11.   

Get More Volunteers Insights

Stay tuned to Sterling Volunteers' blog for more insights into the “Volunteer Perspective - Industry Insights 2019” report. Read the full report here.

ReFrame Association members get a 20%+ off quality background screening services for volunteers and employees. Learn more.   

The information contained herein is for informational purposes only.  Sterling is not a law firm, and none of the information contained in this notice is intended as legal advice.