Volunteer Facts

Volunteer Background Checks

There are certain activities and jobs that are particularly attractive to various types of criminals as a cover for their activities. Driving is one, and volunteering is another. Volunteers get access to all kinds of communities and opportunities. Ideally, a background check will be conducted on every volunteer, similar to one that might be conducted for a new employee.

Although volunteers don't get paid, they are certainly in a situation to do all the same things that a bad employee might do. Some restrictions apply when conducting volunteer background checks, though. It's unethical to conduct a check that turns up information that is irrelevant to a person's activity as a volunteer. For example, a credit check is probably not necessary in most cases, although a criminal check will be.

The Privacy Issue

Questions that might be raised on this issue are: "Should a volunteer have the right to defend himself against negative information that turns up, which may affect his status as a volunteer?" Information from a volunteer background check should be closely guarded. The individual's privacy is compromised if anyone but essential personnel see the file, and legal action may result.

Allowing a background check to fall into the hands of unauthorized persons could actually pose a risk to the subject of a check. This should be guarded against. Identity theft is a very real risk these days. Exposing a volunteer to criminal behavior is seriously negligent.
 

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When I first arrived in India, it felt like every little thing was so different from back home- the sights, the sounds, the smells, the people, the animals; every moment was a new adventure, and I was always excited to see what would happen next! I volunteered teaching English to rescued child laborers in a rural village near Jaipur.

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