Cheap Volunteer Background Checks

cheap volunteer background checksHey, 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.

Who Wants Cheap Volunteer Background Checks?

volunteer background checksMy wife has a coupon for everything.  Day after day during the Christmas Season,  I had to feign a passing interest in the discounted price of every single item she bought for the kids or family.    “The shirt was 25% off and then I had this coupon for another 10% off…” Now, don’t get me wrong.  I am all about a bargain.  But who isn’t?

The internet has turned all of us into little Bargain Betty’s.  We can research and find the lowest cost on everything.  I also think that it has turned almost everything into a commodity.

However, there are things that simply cannot be commoditized.  I would never search for a babysitter for my kids by the cheapest price.  I certainly would not search for the cheapest cardiac surgeon if I was having heart problems.

And there are things at the grocery store that I simply have to have, even if they are a little more expensive.  Why?  Because they are better.

The same is true with volunteer background checks.  You can easily find very cheap pricing online.

The volunteer background screening market is the Wild West 2.0.  There are no standards of care that define a background check and few laws or regulations that require quality criminal record checks.  The screening industry has fed on the something is better than nothing mentality.

There are 3 things you must understand about volunteer background checks:

  1. There is no such thing as a $10 (or less) background check.  Sorry, but anything offered for $10 is a screening solution not a screening program.
  2. There is no such thing as an instant background check.  There is no way to do a criminal background check instantly.
  3. A background screening program requires multiple screening solutions.  No database, including the FBI’s NCIC, is complete enough to be a stand-alone screening program.  All quality background screening programs require the use of databases, county level criminal searches, federal criminal and/ or state repository searches.  None of them are effective individually.

The first choice you must make is:

  • I want the cheapest volunteer background available; or
  • I am committed to the safety and security of our children, staff and/or people we serve.

If you are looking for the cheapest volunteer background checks, then you will have no problem finding a provider.  The background screening industry has historically prostituted low quality background checks to satisfy the markets desire for cheap and instant.

However, if you are an exceptional organization that is committed to safety and security, then we would love to partner with you.


Did You Graduate From Cheap Background Checks for Churches Yet?

background checks for churchesOk, I had to ask.  I’m really not trying to make you feel guilty if you are still studying for the final exam. And let’s be honest, we have all flunked a test or two and learned from our mistakes and become better for it.

Seriously, I just want you to understand how cheap background checks for churches are wrapped up in pretty packaging.  I hesitate to use the word deceptive but I think it is fair to say misleading.

Misleading is no big deal if we are talking Coke versus Pepsi.  However, the safety and security of your church is an entirely different matter.

We also need to understand that cheap background checks are the norm in the church market.

If an employee at Walmart harms a child while at work, it will be a big news splash.  But it will not impact Walmart’s brand image much.

But churches are not Walmart.  We are talking about the safety and security of children, members, visitors, finances and the ministry.

One harmed child will impact that child for their rest of their life.  It might destroy their faith.  And it could destroy your ministry especially if it could have been prevented.

My advice to prospective clients who are shopping by price is to have them ask themselves how they would feel sitting across from a mother and father and telling them that their child was harmed.  And it could have been prevented but the budget was tight and you were trying to save $8-$10.

Is it worth the savings?  No way. Kids are precious and need to be protected.

The problem is we have all been victims of great marketing.  Prior to starting Safe Hiring Solutions, I assumed a criminal background check would consist of an instant database search.  Wow, did I have a lot to learn and I was a detective.

So we are here to give you more guidance.  Most days I feel like I am swimming upstream with one arm as I tackle a giant volunteer screening marketing program based on profit not safety and security.

Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (John 8:32).”  So let’s look at the truth in background screening.

Background checks for churches cannot be done for $10.  Sorry.

Pastor Rick Warren, author of Purpose Driven Life, requires all volunteers at Saddleback Church, including his wife, to submit to a comprehensive fingerprint background check.

A quality criminal background check for churches should include:

  • Social Security Verification
  • National Criminal Database Search
  • National Sex Offender Search
  • County Criminal Search

The screening package must:

  • Not be limited to 7 years.
  • Include alias and other names

Contact Safe Hiring Solutions today to complete your graduation to comprehensive criminal background checks.

Your Turn:

Did you know that quality background checks could not be done for $10?