Nonprofit Insurance Program

Nonprofits & Reference Checks

By Alexa Connelly
September 17, 2012

Performing a reference check on potential volunteers or employee can be a frustrating task at times because some employers refuse to provide references for former employees, outside a standard confirmation of the applicant’s name and dates of employment, and other employers provide positive referrals as a means of getting rid of poor performers.

Both of these reasons are unreasonable which makes your job even harder. 25 states have laws in place which afford some protection to employers that provide honest assessments when providing references. In this process, the potential employee signs a waiver with the job application to release their former employer from liability for providing information about their previous employment. However, your nonprofit organization must be careful to avoid potential liability for defamation when you provide information about former employees.

To start your reference check policy, the first thing you need to do is inform the potential employee. Next you need to make it mandatory that all employees agree to cooperate in implementing the agency’s referral policy and complete a reference information form. Finally you should figure out the information that should be verified with a reference check, check for degrees, certifications, and licenses noted by the applicants for professional positions. Checking with three references will give you the best insight into the potential staff or volunteer member. For a guide to reference checking, post a comment below!

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