A friend of mine was telling me about a wonderful dog rescue organization that she is deeply involved with, and it got me thinking about how even non-profit groups need to consider looking into their volunteers’ backgrounds, including their driving records. This group is an amazing team of people who voluntarily pick up dogs at shelters or from other at-risk situations and care for them in their own homes. Sometimes dogs must be shuttled to different homes, the vet, or even out of state within the foster system. If a dog finds an adopted home several states away these dog lovers will split up the trip, each driving a leg across the country, to bring the new family together.
The organization carefully screens those who offer up their homes to foster or adopt and do everything they can to find the dogs safe forever homes, but they do very little to figure out who is behind the wheel of all of those cars traveling on their behalf. What happens if someone causes a devastating accident while on a rescue mission? My friend admits they really have no idea if the people driving have valid driver’s licenses or if they have a history of trouble. That is really unfortunate because one terrible incident could put the future of the whole organization at risk.
So what do you do? Asking for proof of insurance is a start, but what about checking into a volunteer’s driving record? That is less common, but no less important. Whether your volunteer has a history of DUI, too many accidents or just a lead foot… you need to know. If they cause an accident or hurt someone, the organization could be responsible, and the damage could be tremendous. Obviously there is the financial piece, but a tarnished reputation could be a death knell for a group that depends on donations.
If someone drives for you as part of their duties, they pose a risk and need to be screened- whether they are an employee, volunteer, temp or contractor. The best thing to do is an initial search of their Motor Vehicle Record, but don’t stop there. This is a screen that should be done on a continual basis. It’s up to each organization to decide if it should be done quarterly, annually or even bi-annually, but it needs to be done. The first step is creating a policy for everyone to follow, and then EBI can help you implement it in the easiest and most cost effective manner.
The most important advice we can offer volunteer organizations is to do it now- don’t wait until a crisis hits. This is a case when it is always better to be safe than sorry.