Training Busy Staff

to Succeed with Volunteers:
The 55-Minute Training Series
Copyright © 2007
Betty Stallings

Energize, Inc.

Risk Management in
Volunteer Programs
© 2007, Betty Stallings – Energize, Inc.
S-1
Introductory Exercise
►Share potential risks to volunteers, to
clients, and to agencies when
organizational work is performed by
volunteers.
© 2007, Betty Stallings – Energize, Inc.
S-2
General Principles
►Every organization has its own risks.

►Nothing can protect from a lawsuit, but insurance
provides financial coverage.

►Insurance cannot undo bad publicity, shaken
faith, anguish, and other losses.

►Managing risks lowers the probability of “human
error” by or toward volunteers.

►Weigh risk against its extent, the importance of
the activity, and how to manage it.
© 2007, Betty Stallings – Energize, Inc.
S-3
Learning Objectives
► Explain risk management and appreciate its
importance regarding volunteers.

► Discuss the agency’s policies and procedures related
to risk management.
► Identify and evaluate potential risks in volunteer
involvement.

► Address and diminish risk with preventive strategies
and techniques.

► Explain how to handle a volunteer-related liability
incident or emergency situation.
© 2007, Betty Stallings – Energize, Inc.
S-4
4 Key Concepts
1. Preventive risk management is essential for all
organizations serving the community.
2. All paid and volunteer staff must be familiar with and
follow agency policies and procedures for risk
management.
3. All paid and volunteer staff must recognize risks
unique to their situation and know preventive
strategies to address and minimize those risks.
4. Organizations need written/shared procedures
regarding liability and emergency situations.
© 2007, Betty Stallings – Energize, Inc.
S-5
Key Concept 1
► Preventive risk management is
essential for all organizations
serving the community.

© 2007, Betty Stallings – Energize, Inc.
S-6
Basic Questions
►What is risk management?

►Why do we need a risk management
system?

►What’s at risk?
© 2007, Betty Stallings – Energize, Inc.
S-7
What is risk management?

►Risk management is a system to
forecast risks in advance and take
proactive steps to deal with identified
risks.
© 2007, Betty Stallings – Energize, Inc.
S-8
Steps in Risk Management
1. Identify risks.
 What might go wrong
2. Evaluate each risk.
 How likely is it to occur?
 What is the amount of potential harm?
3. Control the Risks:
 Stop or delay
 Eliminate or diminish
 Minimize harm
 Transfer liability
© 2007, Betty Stallings – Energize, Inc.
S-9
Why do we need a risk
management system?
►To protect our agency, its clients, its paid staff
and volunteers.

►To run a better program to meet our
organization's mission.
© 2007, Betty Stallings – Energize, Inc.
S-10
Liabilities in a Volunteer
Program
►Liabilities of the individual volunteer.

►Liabilities of the agency to the volunteer.

►Liabilities to the agency due to action by
volunteers.
© 2007, Betty Stallings – Energize, Inc.
S-11
What’s at risk?
►People

►Property

►Income

►Goodwill
© 2007, Betty Stallings – Energize, Inc.
S-12
Key Concept 2
► All paid and volunteer staff must
be familiar with and follow agency
policies and procedures for risk
management.

© 2007, Betty Stallings – Energize, Inc.
S-13
What Will Risk Management
Policies Do For Us?
►Establish a standard for behavior.

►Support unpleasant, but necessary
requirements.

►Provide orientation and training.

►Help ensure operational consistency.

►If sued, they will strengthen our case.
© 2007, Betty Stallings – Energize, Inc.
S-14
Some Sample Topics
► General Risk Management Philosophy
► Required Training
► Emergency Procedures
► Complaints and Due Process
► Handling of Media
► Confidentiality of Client Information
► Suspension and Dismissal of Volunteers
► Financial and Operations Controls
► Who Can Volunteer?
► Working Conditions
► Screening Policies for Volunteers
© 2007, Betty Stallings – Energize, Inc.
S-15
Policies should be…
►Made

►Followed

►Reviewed and updated
© 2007, Betty Stallings – Energize, Inc.
S-16
Key Concept 3
► All paid and volunteer staff must
recognize risks unique to their
situation and know preventive
strategies to address and minimize
those risks, including:
 Work design
 Screening
 Training
 Supervision
© 2007, Betty Stallings – Energize, Inc.
S-17
Two Things to Remember
1. All volunteer positions do not have the same
level of risk and therefore will have differing
risk management strategies associated with
them.
2. Once the risk factors are identified in a
volunteer position, preventive strategies
should be incorporated into the position
description, screening, orientation, training
and supervision of that position.
© 2007, Betty Stallings – Energize, Inc.
S-18
Level of Risk in
Volunteer Positions
►Low-level Risk:
 Light occasional clerical work done on-site
during office hours.

 Group-based sessions with competent adult
leadership, in public places.

 A collating “party” with competent volunteers
and staff present.
© 2007, Betty Stallings – Energize, Inc.
S-19
Level of Risk in
Volunteer Positions
►High-Level Risk:
 Unsupervised “mentoring” between an
individual volunteer and a vulnerable client
(elderly, disabled, youth).

 Overnight visits by vulnerable individuals in
volunteers’ homes.

 Health or personal care given to elderly in their
homes by individual volunteers.
© 2007, Betty Stallings – Energize, Inc.
S-20
Reduce Risks by…
►Written volunteer position descriptions.
 Communicate expectations of volunteers.
 Focus on qualifications as a significant
selection criterion.
 Help choose the proper level of screening.
 Document that a volunteer acted outside of
assigned duties.
 Establish limitations and barriers that may
discourage undesirable people from entering
your program.
© 2007, Betty Stallings – Energize, Inc.
S-21
Reduce Risks by…
►Screening volunteers.
 A structured procedure replaces haphazard and
arbitrary decisions with a fair method.

 Use the written position description and do
personal interviews.

 Multiple screening may increase your chances of
revealing suspicious responses.

 Ask questions in different ways; verify some
information, if warranted.
© 2007, Betty Stallings – Energize, Inc.
S-22
Reduce Risks…Screening
continued
 Gather all data before making final judgments.

 Do not collect information you can’t evaluate.

 Make certain that information you gather is
necessary and appropriate for the position.

 Be consistent: all volunteers for the same position
should be screened alike using the same set of
interview questions.
© 2007, Betty Stallings – Energize, Inc.
S-23
Reduce Risks by…
►Orientation, Training, Supervision and
Evaluation.
 Clarify expectations and organizational values.
 Provide written information on personnel, risk
management and volunteer policies.
 Maintain oversight and give support to all
volunteers to empower them to be effective.
 Give timely and specific feedback.
 Proceed with volunteer dismissal, if warranted.
 Do not assign new work to volunteers who have not
been adequately screened or prepared.
© 2007, Betty Stallings – Energize, Inc.
S-24
Risk Management Worksheet
►Volunteer
Position:______________________
 Responsibilities:
 Qualifications:
 Potential Risks Inherent in Position:
 Screening Process:
 Orientation Information:
 Training Needs:
 Supervision/Evaluation System:

© 2007, Betty Stallings – Energize, Inc.
S-25
Key Concept 4
► Organizations need to have
written/shared procedures
regarding how to handle a
potential liability incident or an
emergency situation.

© 2007, Betty Stallings – Energize, Inc.
S-26
Do You Know...
►How to act in an emergency?
►How to deal with a person injured on the premises?
►How to preserve physical evidence?
►How to record your recollections?
►How to discuss a liability incident with police, the
media, etc.?
►Whom to notify in case of an emergency, and when?
►Procedures to follow in a natural disaster?
© 2007, Betty Stallings – Energize, Inc.
S-27
Summary
►Preventive risk management practices protect
our clients, our volunteers and paid staff, and
our organization.

►They simultaneously enhance the quality of
the work of our organization.

►We cannot afford to ignore these matters.
The future of our organization may well
depend on it.

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