When applying for a volunteer position, how many people expect to have a background check done? Not many. But consider the safety of those the volunteers and the clients are about to work with. Each party should know that they are in a safe environment and won’t be at risk for unsavory behavior.

Some organizations won’t perform background checks on their volunteers unless it’s required, but will the basic background check produce the needed information? No matter the types of clients an organization works with, performing a thorough background check should be a must-do in order to ensure the safety of employees and clients, especially when it relates to volunteers in an organization.

Are organizations required to perform background checks on volunteers?

Laws that require background checks to be done on volunteers typically specify that the individual will only need to have certain checks, such as a criminal history or sex offender check when working specifically with children. Most of the checks performed are required by the state’s department for public health, if you’re volunteering for a health-based facility for example. Even if local laws do not  require background checks, many organizations choose to perform them for their own accountability.

What areas of a background check should be performed?

There is an endless list of checks that can be run, but Background Check Express recommends pursuing at least these three important checks: state criminal, county criminal and national sex offender. To ensure accuracy, a national criminal search will help identify any issues that could have happened outside where the applicant has resided. When deciding to do a statewide and countywide criminal check, it’s important to know that doing each one is essential. Some employers may be content with only doing a statewide check, but many counties are not required to report to a state database, if the state has one, and such checks may include prior records that could be reported.

Lastly, running a sex offender check is essential when working with children, and even those with disabilities and the elderly. Make sure that those who are at the highest risk of vulnerability are protected by caring and trustworthy volunteers.


Keeping everyone safe is the key to maintaining a successful business with happy clients and volunteers.


By: Sarah Masa-Myers