Nonprofit Insurance Program

Volunteer Liability: Protect Volunteers and Your Non-profit Organization

By Kathi Fuhrman
November 14, 2014

Employers have a duty of care. It is their responsibility to ensure a safe working environment for their employees. It is also their responsibility to ensure employees have appropriate skills and meet criminal history checks where necessary. As the manager of a nonprofit organization, you also have liability for the volunteers who work for you. Here are proactive steps you can take to optimize your nonprofit risk management.

Risk Management Committee

Treat this as a serious committee and select a range of representatives from across your organization. Develop a charter and meet regularly. This committee can be responsible for identifying risks and developing solutions before an issue arises. When a problem does occur, the committee can assess how it occurred and make recommendations for future prevention. In this way, nonprofit risk management can be a shared responsibility.

Volunteer Guidelines

Develop clear guidelines regarding the requirements that must be met by volunteers before they can work for your nonprofit. Consider carefully the skills and physical capabilities that are needed in order perform duties. Will  there be lifting involved? Does your volunteer have a medical report reflecting his or her fitness to do so?

Your volunteers should meet background checks before commencing work, especially if they will be working with children, the elderly or the infirm. States have specific requirements but it is best to develop your own guidelines as well, in order to maximize safety of your clients and other volunteers. Clear guidelines will contribute greatly to your nonprofitrisk management.


As the needs of your nonprofit change, make sure you upskill volunteers so they can provide the best possible service. New equipment, revised programs or changes in policy are examples of areas where training is vital. In this way, both your volunteers and clients are protected.

Volunteer Insurance

The above advice can help ensure that critical incidents do not arise at your nonprofit. Unfortunately, even with the best planning, problems can occur. Should one of your volunteers be involved in a critical incident, insurance can help limit your financial responsibility. A professional can explain how volunteer insurance is an important risk management tool for nonprofit organizations.

By proactively taking responsibility for your volunteers, you will reduce your chances of a critical incident and have appropriate measures in place should a problem emerge.

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