Hey, don't feel guilty. Searching for cheap volunteer background checks is normal.
I have yet to work with or sit on a board of a volunteer organization that was not "cash conscious". That is the nature of most not-for-profits.
So it makes perfect sense that we would apply this same principle to our selection of a background screening company. Cheaper is always better, right?
Not necessarily. We should not overpay for a product or service but simply searching for the cheapest volunteer background checks will ultimately place those that you serve at risk. Is it really worth saving a few dollars while at the same time placing people and your organization at risk?
The big question then is why are cheap volunteer background checks risky?
1. Not all Background Screening Companies Are The Same. You have to know that you are comparing apples to apples and not apples to oranges. You should ask yourself a few questions:
a. What am I getting for the price?
b. Limited search or unlimited?
c. Are they searching all names associated with our volunteers? Are they charging me more fees if my volunteer has more than one name?
d. Are they using a database or using multiple levels of screening?
e. What are the security certifications of the screening firm and their online system?
f. Do they provide easy ways of communicating with customer service when you have questions?
2. The Background Screening Industry is a Highly Unregulated Industry. There really are very few regulations on volunteer background checks. This has given rise to the use of very low quality database products that are often marketed as a "National Criminal Background Check."
3. There is No Standard of Care. The focus is on speed and profit. You need to find a company that is focused on quality first and speed and well priced secondly.
4. There is NOT a Complete Instant Criminal Database. I don't care what a sales rep tells you, there is no such thing as a complete instant criminal database. The FBI's NCIC is nowhere near complete. So you cannot rely on an instant criminal database search as your background screening program. It is going to get someone hurt and possibly get you sued.
5. No Such Thing as A $10 Comprehensive Volunteer Background Check. I am sorry but you cannot screen your volunteers for $10. It simply cannot be done correctly.
6. Limited Search to 7 Years. The background screening industry works off a limited 7 year rule. Unless your state law specific limits the search to 7 years, then there is no reason it should be stopped at 7 years. Most organizations working with children would want to know if a volunteer candidate had been convicted of raping a child 10 years ago.
7. Do NOT search Alias Names. Most background screening firms will either 1) not search alias names; or 2) charge you additional fees for searching other names. What if your volunteer candidate was recently married or changed their name. Is it possible they could have criminal records under those names that are not being searched?
A quality volunteer background screening program MUST include the following:
· Social Security Verification. This identifies them. Provides any names they have been known by. And provides address history.
· National Criminal Database. Yes, quality screening programs will include a national criminal database. This is a required solution just not a stand-alone screening program.
· National Sex Offender Search. This is a 50 state sex offender registry search.
· County Criminal Search. This is the solution that many background screening firms remove but is the critical component of the screening program.
I hope this helps you to understand why cheap volunteer background checks are dangerous. Even though you cannot conduct quality volunteer background checks for $10, you can do this for just a little bit more. It does not have to break the bank.
Are you ready to start a quality volunteer screening program?
Click here for more information on implementing a quality screening program.