FUNDAMENTALS OF A VOLUNTEER RISK MANAGEMENT SYSTEM

July 9, 2024

FUNDAMENTALS OF A VOLUNTEER RISK MANAGEMENT SYSTEM

  • Have you analyzed tasks volunteers perform from the standpoint of safety for volunteers and
    for others around them?
  • Do you interview volunteers to learn what skills they do or do not have, and assign work
    accordingly?
  • Do you inspect the locations where volunteers are assigned for potential hazards such as falls,
    fire, poor lighting?
  • Do you train volunteers, to ensure they can perform their tasks skillfully and safely?
  • Are supervisors assigned to volunteers, and are they held accountable for making sure
    volunteers perform their assignments as they have been trained?
  • Do you have a specific action plan in the event a volunteer is injured, injures someone, or
    damages someone’s property?
  • Injuries to the volunteer
  • Liability (injuring someone or damaging their property)
  • Automobile liability
  • Dishonesty
  • Determine the most practical way to eliminate, reduce or transfer those risks.
  • Develop incident responses, in case an incident occurs despite your best efforts.
  • Train and supervise volunteers, and hold them accountable for following your procedures.
  • Respond promptly to incidents, and learn what you can from them.
    This section includes guidance on those steps
  • Clutter on the floor
  • Boxes left where people walk
  • Loose rugs or floor tiles
  • Uneven sidewalks
  • Extension cords
  • Poor lighting on stairways
  • Loose handrails


Resource: VIS “Preventer Papers” on injury prevention, in the “VIS Vault” at www.visvolunteers.com.

  • Are volunteers sometimes asked to perform tasks that are outside the scope of their
    responsibilities? Particularly when volunteers are working in clients’ homes, they might be
    asked to move a heavy object, retrieve something from a high shelf, or return on the weekend to do some work, without being physically able to perform the task or lacking the proper equipment. Instruct volunteers to contact their supervisors to discuss any such request, before agreeing to do it. The supervisor should discuss the request with the client, to make sure everyone understands what is needed. Make sure the volunteer is willing and able to comply.
  • Do any clients have dogs that might bite a volunteer? What about the clients’ neighbors? It is a good reason to scout the locations where volunteers are assigned, and/or ask the client about dogs in the vicinity.
  • Do any clients have communicable diseases that pose a threat to the volunteer? This is
    especially a concern in flu season.
  • Do volunteers working in clients’ homes come in contact with the clients’ family members?
    How much do you know about the family? It is an unfortunate fact that many adults who live with their elderly parents are taking financial advantage of them, or otherwise abusing them. If your volunteer visits regularly and has a bond with the elder, the adult child exploiting his or her parent(s) will consider that person a nuisance at least, and possibly a threat. Consider the possibilities, and make volunteer assignments appropriately. (NOTE: Tell volunteers to report to you any signs of possible abuse. Aside from any physical evidence such as bruises, does the client seem withdrawn or nervous in the presence of family members, or do those family
    members respond when you direct a question to the client? Your local Adult Protective Services can provide more information.)

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  • While online at your office, a volunteer accidentally clicks on a ransomware link. Basic training in computer security is good risk management.
  • A volunteer loses, or steals, your client list or donor list. Do you have a confidentiality
    agreement? Who has access to your most sensitive data? Restrict access to those who really need it. For those volunteers (or staff), perform criminal background checks. Although a person with a clean record might commit a crime, obtaining the background check demonstrates your due diligence. That can reduce the risk of a successful liability claim against your organization. (Remember the definition of negligence.)
  • A volunteer jeopardizes your tax-exempt status by violating IRS rules, when he or she advocates for a particular political candidate, ostensibly on behalf of your organization. More information on the rules regarding political advocacy can be found in the section on nonprofits at www.irs.gov. Make sure your volunteers and staff are aware of these rules and follow them.
  • Use it to describe available assignments and ask about their areas of interest.
  • Ask about special skills.
  • Ask about allergies or other medical conditions or limitations that could affect assignments, including driving.

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  • Does the volunteer know to whom he or she should report? Whom do they see if they need
  • something, or have a complaint or problem?
  • Take time to explain safety rules that go with the volunteer assignment, and conduct
    appropriate training before the volunteer begins.
  • Explain recordkeeping requirements such as time records and reimbursement forms.
  • Have veteran volunteers train new ones. That is a good way to reinforce the veteran
    volunteer’s own knowledge, as well as to train the new person. And it is one more way of
    reminding veteran volunteers that you value their skill and experience.


Resources: “To keep good volunteers, minimize these risks” and “What not to say to an angry
volunteer,” in the “VIS Vault” at www.visvolunteers.com.

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CCSCT was approached by First NonProfit to discuss its Unemployment Savings Program and ways the program could significantly reduce the amount of unemployment taxes we were paying. At the time, our agency was paying approximately $80,000 per year. First NonProfit conducted an analysis to determine if making the switch would be in our best interest, and it clearly was based on our circumstances. The first year on the program, CCSCT saw a 70% reduction in its unemployment costs and each year, continues to experience further reductions as a result of having minimal claims. Some additional benefits of the program including having a fixed annual cost, an interest-baring reserve account, professional unemployment claims management and representation at all unemployment hearings. This has been one of the best decisions we have made.

Community Council of South Central Texas, Inc., Seguin, TX

We first started using First Nonprofit’s Unemployment Savings Program when we were a small startup nonprofit.  We didn’t have an HR department and needed expertise in the event that an unemployment claim was made.  We knew we were eligible to be a reimbursing employer, but weren’t sure how to navigate that process.  They made it easy to set things up, plan for, and then manage claims when they came at a very reasonable cost. The amount of time and stress they’ve saved us dealing with all this has been worth way more than the cost.  We’ve now grown to a large nonprofit and do have an HR department but have no plans to stop using their services.  I highly recommend them to every nonprofit I come into contact with!

CROSSPURPOSE, Denver, CO

Throughout our membership in the Unemployment Savings Program, First Nonprofit understood our demands, community dynamics, and the importance of seamless services; that allowed us to serve our constituents better.

Prevent Blindness America, Chicago, IL

Because INCS advocates for the operating conditions that allow charter public schools to provide high quality public education, partnering with First Nonprofit was an easy decision. First Nonprofit’s unemployment programs provide our member schools two operating elements crucial to their ability to provide high quality public education: savings and budget certainty. Capable, committed teachers are the key to student success. By participating in the unemployment insurance savings plan, charter public schools gain peace of mind and are able to invest more money in their teachers.

Illinois Network of Charter Schools, Chicago, IL

It has been our sincere pleasure to maintain a strong, vibrant business partnership with First Nonprofit. We greatly admire their strong industry knowledge, technical expertise, constant professionalism, knowledgeable and dedicated staff. They are always extremely responsive, personable and provide us with the necessary guidance and recommendations on a numerous variety of employment scenarios.

Thresholds, Chicago, IL

NYCON members who use First Nonprofit’s programs enjoy enduring savings and improved efficiency. Our association knows that success, because from the beginning, we achieved the same great benefits. Great savings, seamless technology, and responsive service. NYCON highly recommends First Nonprofit’s remarkable unemployment solutions.

New York Council of Nonprofits, Albany, NY

Visually Impaired Preschool Services has been a client of First Non-Profit since it was first offered as a benefit of VisionServe Alliance. We completed a thorough evaluation of cash savings to our agency before taking advantage of this wonderful benefit and it has been a very wise decision. Our experience with the processes from accounting to claims have been professional, expeditious and easy.

Visually Impaired Preschool Services, Louisville, KY

Luckily for us, our interactions regarding any issues with staffing has been very minimal! I can say that all other interactions with regards to billing, 941 reporting, etc. have been extremely pleasant, accommodating and easy to work with. Kim Ghanayem is always prompt, professional and friendly. Thank you so much!

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