How Often Should We Run a Criminal Background Check On Volunteers?

by Patricia

 

I recently had someone ask me how often they should run criminal background checks on volunteers.  I’m of the opinion that every volunteer should go through a thorough background screening as part of their volunteer application process and rechecked every couple of years. Gone are the days when background checks were only done on people who work with children.

The screening process is important because of the legal risks that now face churches and their responsibility for screening both employees and volunteers.  These risks have increased as a result of a rising number of litigations involving religious nonprofit organizations.

The good news is technology is improving every day and criminal databases are beginning to cross state lines and states are sharing information.  While we are not where we need to be, the technology has improved resulting in improved processing times and results. There are also some vendors that offer updated reports as new information becomes available.

Finding a good screening vendor may take a little research but there are many options to choose from.  Even if there is a vendor you are currently using, it is only wisdom to shop them every couple of years.  Pricing and products are constantly changing so take some time to ensure you are using the best available vendor.

A few vendors that I found by just searching “church background checks” were Protect My Ministry, Lexis Nexis, Sentry Link.  I’m not advocating any of these organizations just offering a starting point for your research.

 9 Background Check Vendor Consideratins

1. Turnaround Time – What is the processing time to get a background check completed and returned?

2. Price – How does the price compare with other vendors  and are there discounts available for multiple purchases?

3. Information Tracked – How thorough is the screening and what type of information is reported?

4. Reach of Information – Does the database cover state, regional or national information?

5. Process for Submission – How easy is the process to submit a name for a background check?  You are looking for quick and efficient.

6. Ease of Use – Ask for a sample report and determine how easy is it to interpret the results.

7. Availability of Updated Information – Check if the vendor provides updated information as it becomes available.

8. Customer Service – Ask how the organization responds to customer complaints and how responsive they are to technical issues.

9. Recommendations From Current Users – Ask for a list of current clients and find out if they are happy with the product.

Background checks are a critical part of the volunteer management process and should be taken seriously to ensure that your organization is paying attention to those people who are involved in helping you achieve your mission.

How often do you re-screen volunteers?

 photo by:  Church of the Redeemer

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