Many people want to help the most vulnerable among us including the elderly, the disabled, and children. However, many people don’t realize that you can’t simply walk in off the street and immediately begin helping. In fact, many organizations have requirements and standards that must be met by all volunteers before you can start working in the charity’s name. To help ensure you have everything in order before you apply to volunteer, here are some common requirements.
Criminal Background Checks
It is common for charity programs to require background checks of their volunteers and employees. If you work on private property, perform money handling tasks, or directly interact with those who need help, you may not be allowed to have certain convictions in your background.
While not all convictions disqualify you from charitable work, you may find it more difficult with certain ones. To determine if your background is an issue, you should contact the charity directly and discuss their requirements.
Even if you aren’t getting paid, you may need to provide references. Often, these can be a combination of professional or personal references and are requested simply to confirm the type of person you are in the rest of your life. If references are required, you will need to provide names and contact information for those who can speak on your behalf. Any other requirements, such as whether the references can be family members, are at the discretion of the charity to which you are applying as a volunteer.
Yes, a charity may require you to pass a drug test before you can work with them. While these are generally only required under specific circumstances, such as by charities that assist those recently in drug treatment programs or who have access to prescription medications, it isn’t a requirement that can be bypassed should it be requested. However, it is important to note that just because a substance is on the test, that doesn’t mean you can’t have it in your system. For example, those with an active prescription for pain medication may be able to volunteer as long as they can provide proof of said prescription.
If your volunteer work involves driving a vehicle on behalf of the organization, you may need to provide a driving abstract before you begin. Driving abstracts are simply records of any traffic tickets, moving violations, or other negative driving citations that you have received within a specific period of time. Generally, information on a driving abstract will not prevent you from being a volunteer in general, though it can prevent your ability to operate vehicles for the charity.
Certain volunteer positions can come with a high amount of stress and difficult situations. Those volunteering for certain crisis hotlines may be required to take aptitude tests to ensure they have the personality traits required for the work involved. In some cases, hotlines prefer working with volunteers who have experienced similar traumas as those who are likely to call, but that is only the case should the volunteer be stable enough to complete the work without causing themselves and undue harm.