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Different Types of Background Checks and Their Risk-Mitigation Impact

Volunteers play a pivotal role in organizations across various sectors, contributing their time, skills, and passion to support causes that are meaningful to them. While the dedication of volunteers is invaluable, organizations must prioritize the safety and well-being of both volunteers and those they serve.

A comprehensive background check process for volunteers is critical in mitigating risks and ensuring a secure and positive environment. But how do the different types of background checks protect your organization?


A background check is crucial for organizations seeking to ensure the integrity and reliability of volunteers and employed workforce. It involves investigating an individual’s history, including criminal records, employment verification, and educational qualifications.

Choosing the right background check provider safeguards your organization from potential risks and liabilities. A thorough background check helps identify candidates with genuine qualifications and trustworthy backgrounds, reducing the likelihood of fraudulent activity or misconduct in your organization.

By investing in a comprehensive background check, organizations not only protect themselves legally but also foster a secure and trustworthy work environment, ultimately contributing to the overall success and reputation of the organization.


Criminal Background Check

Criminal background checks are a foundational element of volunteer screening, providing organizations with insights into a volunteer’s criminal history. These checks typically include information on felony and misdemeanor convictions, non-convictions within seven years, as well as pending cases. For organizations working with vulnerable populations or handling sensitive information, criminal background checks are absolutely essential in assessing potential risks associated with volunteers.

Organizations can perform several types of criminal background checks. To cast a wide net and look for potential records across multiple jurisdictions, a National Criminal and Sex Offender Database Search offers a strong foundation. Any possible records that may appear on a national database search would then be verified at the county court level to ensure accuracy and confidence that the record actually relates to the volunteer.

County and Statewide criminal record searches are also conducted to drill down deeper than a national repository search. Criminal records are filed at county courts, so it’s critical to go to the actual source to locate and confirm records. Violations of federal criminal offenses can result in records filed at the federal level. Those records are accessed using the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system. A volunteer screening package should consider a combination of these criminal history searches to offer a comprehensive review.

Reference Checks

Reference checks involve reaching out to individuals listed by the volunteer as references, such as former colleagues, supervisors, or other contacts. These checks provide valuable insights into the volunteer’s work ethic, reliability, and interpersonal skills. They also serve as a means of verifying the information supplied by volunteers and offer a perspective on their character and professional attributes.

Motor Vehicle Records (MVR) Checks

Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) checks are crucial to volunteer screening when the role involves driving responsibilities. MVR checks involve reviewing an individual’s driving history, including traffic violations, accidents, and license status. By examining an individual’s MVR, organizations can reduce the risk of accidents and ensure the safety of both volunteers and the communities they serve.

Education Verification

Education and certification verification screening plays a pivotal role in ensuring the accuracy of an individual’s academic and professional qualifications. Verifying educational backgrounds helps organizations maintain a qualified and competent workforce by ensuring volunteers possess the necessary credentials for various roles that may require specific experience and education qualifications. It also acts as a preventive measure against resume fraud, reducing the likelihood of hiring individuals who may exaggerate or falsify their qualifications.

Credit Check

While credit checks are commonly associated with employment screening, they may also be utilized in some instances for volunteer screening. Organizations handling sensitive information or have volunteers handling financial responsibilities may find credit checks valuable to ensure financial integrity.

Social Media Screening

Social media screening has become an increasingly common practice in volunteer screening, offering organizations insights into an individual’s online presence. This process involves reviewing publicly available social media profiles and content to assess the candidate’s behavior, communication style, and online conduct. Insight into a volunteer’s online persona can be a helpful tool to identify any potential red flags. Organizations must prioritize privacy and avoid discrimination when screening a candidate’s social media sites, so establishing clear guidelines for this screening practice is necessary.


Background checks for volunteers are not just about risk avoidance; they are a proactive measure to create a positive and secure environment where volunteers can contribute meaningfully to the organization’s mission. By implementing a tailored screening process that considers the specific needs and risks of the organization, volunteer programs can attract and retain dedicated individuals while ensuring the safety and well-being of all participants.

For more information about background screening for your organization, connect with a member of the Protect My Ministry team.