Volunteer Background Checks

  • By Brittany Guyton
  • 18 Aug, 2015

Why is it important?

Millions of volunteers donate countless hours to good causes every day. Nonprofit groups do great work with children, the elderly, the infirm, the homeless and countless others. Nonprofits typically operate on tight budgets and depend on the help of volunteers who work for free and enjoy giving back to their community. However, more and more often we hear of volunteers who harm children they are working with or steal from the nonprofit.

Charitable nonprofit groups and churches are constantly recruiting and working with volunteers. These groups need reliable background screening services in order to ensure the people they serve are being helped by trustworthy and reliable volunteers. Good volunteers are vital to the success of nonprofits, but bad volunteers can jeopardize their success and pose a high threat when given access to children and the elderly or sensitive information.

Screening volunteers can help distinguish those who are reliable and legitimate volunteers from those who are not. Volunteers are screened for many of the same reasons employers screen their employees. The ultimate goal is to verify identity and weed out potential problems, especially problems that could arise from an undisclosed criminal history.

When nonprofits do not perform background searches on potential volunteers and an incident occurs that could have been prevented had the volunteer been screened, the nonprofit can lose the trust and support of the community. The nonprofit can also lose funding and may be subject to a negligent selection of a volunteer lawsuit. Even when faced with a negative incident involving a volunteer, a charitable organization will fare much better by having conducted a background check of all potential volunteers.

A comprehensive volunteer background check policy will allow any manager of a nonprofit organization to rest with ease knowing that their volunteers are honest and dependable. A volunteer background check includes:
  • Criminal Background Checks
  • Sex Offender Registries Search
  • Drug and Alcohol Screening
  • Social Security Number Checks
  • Employment Verification
  • Education Verification
  • Professional License Verification
  • Credit Checks
  • Motor Vehicle Reports
  • Reference Checks
CourtHouse Concepts can provide all the volunteer screening services your nonprofit organization needs to make the right choice and keep people safe. Visit http://www.courthouseconcepts.net/ or call 877-750-3660 today to find out more about how CourtHouse Concepts can help you with volunteer background checks.

Industry News and Trends

By Brittany Guyton 18 Apr, 2016

“Ban the Box” is an international campaign advocating on behalf of ex-offenders, seeking employment. Their goal is to persuade employers to remove the “check box” from hiring records that asks if applicants have a criminal record. Followers of the campaign advocate that this change will allow employers to consider a candidate’s qualifications first, without the stigma of a criminal record.


New York City and Austin Texas are among some of the cities who have recently proposed amendments and ordinances regarding this issues.


The New York City Commission on Human Rights (NYCCHR) recently issued proposed rule amendments regarding the Fair Chance Act. Although this may be a step toward compromise regarding the “Ban the Box” issue, the amendments pose severe compliance challenges for employers. Some potential violations include; 1) Requesting permission to conduct a background check and 2) Using any standard form across multiple jurisdictions that includes a criminal history question regardless of if the form specifies NYC applicants should not respond.


Requiring employers to use a different employment application or form for hiring in NYC creates a significant compliance hurdle that could cost employers thousands of dollars in penalties.

These proposed amendments also prohibit employers from conducting their own search with terms such as “arrest,” “mugshot,” “warrant,” “criminal,” “conviction,” etc. It is unclear if these provisions prohibiting employers from searching for the specified terms or websites are barred from doing so at any point in the hiring process or just prior to extending a conditional offer of employment. These requirements would leave employers without adequate resources to conduct a criminal history search when needed.



A ban the box ordinance was also proposed in Austin, Texas. Although this ordinance is mostly straight forward, there are major concerns regarding a listed requirement to notify applicants in writing if the adverse action decision is based on criminal history.


Employers that conduct background screenings via Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs), the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires a specific process to be followed any time an employer is potentially making an adverse decision (i.e., denying employment, terminating an employee, deciding not to promote an individual) based on information contained within a background report – which may or may not contain criminal history information.


Requiring employers to specifically state that the individual’s criminal history is the basis for an adverse decision, extends beyond the federal requirements which presents potential compliance challenges for employers that hire in multiple jurisdictions


Learn more about the Ban the Box campaign and the concerns surrounding it at http://napbs.com/


Call Courthouse Concepts for detailed, and thorough background screenings!


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