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Volunteer Screening and Onboarding

Collect the following documents before a volunteer begins:

  1. Volunteer Application

    Sample Tutor Application
    Volunteer Application Form: What to Consider
  2. Volunteer/Agency Agreement or Volunteer Contract
    Volunteers must understand and agree to time commitments, performance expectations and agency policies before they begin volunteering.  

    Sample Tutor-Learner Contract
    Sample Volunteer Tutor Contract
    Samples of Volunteer Agreement of Service
  3. Confidentiality Agreement
    You can include this in the Volunteer/Agency Agreement, but make sure to stress it.
  4. Permission form to conduct a criminal background check
    Require volunteers to check a box on the Volunteer Application to give their permission for a background check.
  5. Preferences 
    This can also be part of the Volunteer Application or a separate form.  Ask about:
    • schedule (days/times)
    • general or specific public location (NOT in tutor or learner home)
    • allergies or sensitivities (smells, for example)
    • learner gender

​​​​​Include an open-ended question, “Is there anything else we should consider when matching you with a learner/project?”  Volunteers can note special skills, required accommodations, etc.

I know and trust my volunteers, do I need to screen them?

You must screen all volunteers.  

You must keep records to show you follow the same intake and screening procedures for all volunteers, no matter how well you know them.

You have a responsibility to:

  • protect clients, staff and other volunteers
  • offer your clients quality programming
  • reduce the risk of liability for your agency
  • protect your organization’s reputation
  • make sure volunteers have necessary skills and knowledge for success 
  • provide a fair and equitable process for all volunteers

Our volunteers often have unsupervised access to:

  • people who are looking to us for help. 
  • private or confidential information. 
  • money and other organizational assets. 

How do I screen volunteers?

  1. Volunteer application form
  2. Run a criminal background check crimes committed in WI
  3. Check the sex offender registry - sex offenders who live in WI, even if the crime was committed in another state
  4. Personal interview
    Review the position description and volunteer’s skills and experience
  5. Reference check
    Require 2-3 references, and document your conversations with them

Ask your RLC for updated options and support for background checks.

What if a potential volunteer is offended by our screening procedures?

Remind prospective volunteers that:

  • Screening procedures protect volunteers, as well as clients and staff.   
  • Legally, all volunteers must follow one process, even friends and family.  
  • Following different processes for different people is discrimination. 
  • You need volunteers who protect best interests of clients and agency.

What if they are still upset?

Take it as a sign that volunteering with your agency is not a good fit.  

  • Respectfully, tell the applicant they cannot volunteer with your agency.  
  • Thank them for their interest and the time they’ve spent talking with you.
  • Recommend community volunteer opportunities that are a better fit. 
  • To limit your risk for liability, record in the volunteer’s record:
    • conversation notes
    • decisions
    • dates 


Position Assessment Bar Graph Excerpted from: Linda L. Graff.  1999.  Beyond Police Checks: The Definitive Volunteer & Employee Screening Guidebook.  Dundas: Linda Graff and Associates Inc.

Volunteer Screening Adverse Checklist

Volunteer Screening Best Practices by Verified Volunteers 2018

Sample Equipment Use Contract