volunteer working with children

As a non-profit organization, most of your workforce is probably comprised of volunteers. These individuals are devoting their time and energy to helping the community through your organization. Though these individuals are offering their services without expecting compensation, they still require supervision to ensure that their jobs are done correctly.

Furthermore, it is essential that your organization manages its volunteers to minimize the risk of harm to the community members you are attempting to serve and to the volunteers themselves.



There are three types of volunteer liabilities that may affect your organization as follows:

  1. Direct liability: The organization or volunteer is liable for an action or failing to act. This would include:
    • Not properly screening volunteers who will work with children
    • Providing volunteers with unsafe tools while doing repair work
  1. Indirect (vicarious) liability: The non-profit is liable for the actions of a volunteer on the organization’s behalf. This would include:
    • Volunteer damaging city property while working for an organization in a park
    • Medical bills accrued by a community member after an injury while supervised by a volunteer at an organization-sponsored event
  1. Strict Liability: The need to determine negligence is not necessary because responsibility for inflicting harm is automatic.


Managing Volunteers:

After volunteers complete the training program, it is essential that your staff members continue to monitor and manage them throughout their tenure at your organization.

Ensure that your staff members feel comfortable delegating responsibilities to the volunteers and correcting them if they make mistakes. Furthermore, if a volunteer is acting inappropriately, advise the staff members to dismiss the volunteer before he or she inflicts harm onto another person or him- or herself.

Provide motivation to your volunteers to work hard for the community. Encourage them and praise them for giving it their all. In addition, provide them with a t-shirt, hat or poster as gratitude for their hard work.


Checklist for Supervising Volunteers:

To ensure that your organization is fully prepared for managing volunteers, determine if your non-profit has the following in place:

  • A description of all volunteer positions describing the tasks and duties expected.
  • Maintain and distribute a volunteer safety handbook for use during training.
  • Establish a grievance policy in the event that volunteers are dissatisfied while working for the organization.
  • Ensure that all volunteers sign a waiver acknowledging the organization’s policies.
  • Establish disciplinary standards for volunteers.
  • Train all staff members and supervisors who come in contact with volunteers on how to interact with them.



Find Out More:

Keeping the above tips in mind can go a long way in preventing claims and losses.

Download a copy of our “Common Exposures for Non-Profit Organizations” guide to keep as a reference and find out how to better protect your organization: