If you’re like many nonprofit organizations, your organization’s volunteer onboarding process is complex and meticulous. You draft volunteer role descriptions, recruit via many different avenues, and conduct in-person volunteer interviews. On the other hand, some aspects of the onboarding process are so simple that a five year old could provide some insight. Take a look at how you can apply these six lessons from kindergarten to your volunteer screening program.

1. Taking a turn in the principal’s office.

Almost everyone gets in trouble for something when they are little. When you broke the rules as a child, it meant a trip to the principal’s office. As an adult, it’s a little more serious – a trip to court or even jail.  Conducting a comprehensive criminal background check is crucial to the onboarding process, and helps you to determine if your volunteer candidate is a good fit for your organization.

2. No running in the halls!

Yes, you’ve heard this phrase countless times before I am sure. Teachers didn’t say it over and over again because they didn’t want you to have fun, although it probably seemed that way at the time. Rather, they wanted you to be safe and to avoid accidents. The same goes for drivers. When you drive too fast or break other rules of the road, it’s a hazard for you and your fellow drivers and pedestrians. If a volunteer is going to drive on behalf of your organization, do a motor vehicle record check on them.

3. Classmates like to snitch.

Kindergarteners are often no holds barred – they are willing to tell you everything about a person.  When it comes to your volunteer background screening, talk to others to get the lowdown.  A reference can reveal valuable information that will allow you to make the right decisions regarding bringing a potential volunteer onboard with your organization.

4. The past can predict the future.

Usually there is one child in the class that’s the “problem child” – the person that gets in trouble over and over…and over. When children misbehave, it can indicate future behavior. When you discover discrepancies through background checks, you can confront the potential volunteer for an explanation. If you’re satisfied with the answer, you might still consider him or her for the volunteer position. It’s up to you to decide whether a past blunder is indicative of how the volunteer will perform in the future.

5. Get to know a person before you trust them.

Stranger danger! Kids are taught to avoid strangers. They know that they can only trust a person after their parents give the okay. Volunteer background checks are similar in the sense that you need to dig deep into a potential volunteer’s past before you’re sure they’re a fit for your organization and the volunteer position.

6. Look beyond appearances.

“Don’t judge a book by its cover.” We have all heard it before – and I am sure we’ve all used it many times. The phrase applies to volunteer background checks, as there may be negative information revealed during the process. Rather than rushing to make a judgment, give the person a chance to identify errors or explain. You may be willing to overlook certain minor issues.


Looking for more tips, tricks and lessons to apply to your volunteer background screening program?

Watch this on-demand webinar anytime, from anywhere (for free!): 7 Things You Need to Know About Volunteer Background Checks in 2016

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