Volunteer Background Checks: Giving Back Without Giving Up on Privacy


Fact Sheet 16dVolunteer Background Checks:
Giving Back Without Giving Up on Privacy

Every day, millions of volunteers donate countless hours to good causes. Volunteers mentor to young people, read to toddlers, coach youth sports, tutor in basic math and language skills, change bedpans, prepare and deliver meals, fight fires, provide disaster assistance, and much more. Volunteers can and do perform many of the same duties as paid workers. But, instead of a regular paycheck volunteers do what they do out of a desire to give back to their community.

In today’s queasy, security-conscious climate, organizations are faced with a growing challenge — how to accomplish their mission while protecting the vulnerable population served. At the same time, organizations that rely on volunteers must perform a delicate balancing act — how to properly screen out bad actors without alienating dedicated, privacy-conscious volunteers.

This guide seeks to explore the expanding world of volunteer screening, identify relevant laws as well as fundamental privacy protections, and offer suggestions for organizations and volunteers. References and additional resources are included at the end of this guide.

When Background Checks Go Too Far: Screening Volunteer Master Gardeners


I was at a Maricopa County (Phoenix AZ) Master Gardeners meeting this evening (I am a Master Gardener volunteer) helping with applications for the next Master Gardener training course -- a 17 week training program to teach people in the Southwest how to garden and take care of their landscape plants here, plus a component of our internship program to become a Master Gardener Volunteer. 

The program is run by the University of Arizona. The University is now requiring background checks of applicants applying to take this course. The applicants are paying $275 to take the course and part of that fee also pays for their own background check.

Background Checks for Master Gardeners in Maricopa County.???!!! I am flabbergasted.

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