Volunteer Screening

Screening is a process that helps match people with volunteer positions while improving the quality and safety of the programs and services offered in communities.

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Screening is an ongoing 10-step process performed by an organization to ensure that volunteers’ involvement is meeting the needs of the organizations, the populations they serve and the volunteers themselves.

Screening involves much more than police record checks. While police record checks are one of the 10 Steps of Screening, screening is a comprehensive process that begins long before a volunteer is selected and continues beyond his or her involvement with the organization.

Benefits of Screening

The benefits of screening are:

  • People’s skills and experience are better matched to the needs and opportunities of organizations.
  • The quality and safety of volunteer programs in communities are improved.
  • The risks and liability for people and organizations are reduced.

Screening helps organizations find the right roles for their volunteers. The screening process takes into account the skills, experience and qualifications needed for a volunteer role. Through the process, organizations learn about the applicant’s interests and goals.

At the same time, screening improves the quality and safety of our communities. Screening policies help to lay out the responsibilities of both organizations and volunteers.

Screening practices play a role in fulfilling an organization’s moral, legal and ethical responsibilities to the people it reaches. This includes members, clients, participants, employees and volunteers. This obligation is even greater when the organization is working with vulnerable people, including children, youth, people with disabilities and senior adults.

Why is volunteer screening important?

Organizations have moral, legal and ethical responsibilities to the people they reach.

This includes members, clients, employees and volunteers. Screening is especially important for organizations that work with vulnerable people. Vulnerable people may include children, people with disabilities and senior adults.

The following factors affect an organization’s obligations for screening volunteers:

  • Mandate
  • Population served
  • Volunteer opportunities offered
  • Jurisdiction

Each volunteer position has its own set of requirements, risks and benefits. Boards of directors must set screening policies that suit the range of roles within the organization.

It’s important to note that screening should be ongoing during a volunteer’s involvement. Screening involves ongoing monitoring and quality assurance. This approach benefits the organization and the volunteer, by ensuring that the volunteer role is meeting the needs and expectations of both.

10 Steps of Screening: An ongoing process

Screening practices begin when an organization creates a new position.

Screening is used to select volunteers for specific roles, and it should continue as long as a volunteer is involved with the organization.

The 10 Steps of Screening give clear guidelines for developing screening policies. These policies show an organization’s commitment to safe and meaningful volunteer engagement:

  1. Assessment
  2. Position – Assignment
  3. Recruitment
  4. Application
  5. Interview
  6. References
  7. Police Checks
  8. Orientation and Training
  9. Support and Supervision
  10. Follow-up and Feedback

The 2012 Edition of The Screening Handbook

Volunteer Canada created The 2012 Edition of The Screening Handbook on behalf of Public Safety Canada. The handbook lays out the steps of screening and provides information and resources to support ongoing screening practices. We designed the tool to suit organizations of all sizes and mandates. It is meant to provide guidelines for screening volunteers.

The Online Code Audit Tool

Evaluate your volunteer management practices with the Code Audit! Using the CCVI as a benchmark, Volunteer Canada developed the online Code Audit tool to help organizations assess their volunteer programs. The member-exclusive Code Audit guides organizations through: analyzing the effectiveness of their volunteer involvement strategies and processes, identifying organizational strengths and prioritizing areas for further development.

Once completed and submitted, a report with a series of recommendations will be generated to assist the organization with its volunteer involvement strategies. This report can help guide and inform how your organization engages with current and future volunteers.

The Code Audit is a member-exclusive tool. Become a Volunteer Canada member today to access the tool – Learn more at volunteer.ca/membership.

Watch this quick tutorial to learn more about the Code Audit:



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