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Risk and Liability

Five Strategies to Shut Down Volunteer Conflict

As every volunteer manager knows, your mission is BIG! It takes a lot of creativity, funding, and work from staff and dedicated volunteers to accomplish. But what happens when those very volunteers detract from your efforts instead of supporting them? Are some volunteers in a heated conflict with one another or, worse, in conflict with you and maybe even the direction of your organization? As a volunteer manager, how would you respond to such a negative but entirely possible scenario?

In this feature story, Marla Benson, creator of the Volunteer Conflict Management SystemSM, offers five key strategies to manage volunteer conflict before, during, and after it occurs. 

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Reducing the Risks of Lawsuits Involving Volunteers

Discussions of legal issues involving volunteers are usually conducted philosophically, using generic examples or what-if scenarios. In this feature, Donald W. Kramer, an American lawyer and editor with extensive expertise and experience in nonprofit legal matters, shares actual court cases and reviews their implications for volunteer leaders and volunteers. While all of the examples are from the United States, Kramer's article covers a range of concerns that surface in many countries around the world. If you and your organization tend to want to run and hide when you hear the word “lawsuit,” Kramer’s article, which includes a sample volunteer agreement template, will no doubt prove helpful. 

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The Contradictions of Imposing 'Checks' on Volunteers: Questions We Need to Answer

Debbie Usiskin, an experienced volunteer programme manager in London, shares her personal exploration of how government requirements to ‘check’ (screen) volunteers provide contradictory and conflicting responsibilities and messages.  She raises important questions about finding the right balance between protecting those who are served while supporting the widest range of volunteers.

Usiskin also introduces a provocative analysis of volunteer-involving organisations by influential business guru Charles Handy and applies his thinking to volunteer management.  

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Legal Liability and Risk Management for Volunteer Programs (Revisited)

“Along the Web” for this issue updates the first topic we examined back in 2000:  volunteer program liability and risk management. This is a topic that has received a lot of attention during the past five years, with a corresponding amount of materials produced to discuss it.  We’ll divide our annotated list of over 30 items into materials of general interest and materials connected to specific aspects of volunteering or liability.

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Volunteers' Most Common Accidents - and How to Avoid Them

Once in a while, a volunteer is injured, or injures someone else, in the course of his or her work. Sometimes, it is just an allegation that the volunteer injured someone else; whether or not the allegation is true, a legal defense still is required. In many cases, the cost of the incident is greater than the volunteer's own ability to pay, which is why insurance protection for volunteers should be part of every nonprofit organization's risk strategy. Even so, prevention is better than cure, and there is a lot you can do to prevent accidents from happening in the first place.

In this article, we will describe the circumstances involved in the claims we see in our Volunteers Insurance Service (VIS ® ) program, and offer guidance to help you minimize the chance that such claims might happen to your own volunteers.

Injuries caused by volunteers to themselves or to others tend to fall into a few common claims scenarios which we'll cover in this article by the three types of volunteer insurance coverage that respond:

It's Never Over: Ongoing Screening of Volunteers and Paid Staff

Volunteering and volunteer work have changed dramatically in the last few years. So too have management practices in the not-for-profit sector as shrinking resources combined with increasing demands for service press administrators to search for new ways of doing business. One of the consequences of these changes has been an increase in the responsibilities assigned to volunteers and paid staff. These new responsibilities have increased the burden on organizations to manage all the paid and unpaid human resources they have mobilized.

As paid and unpaid staff members perform more sophisticated duties and as they work more directly with increasingly vulnerable populations, there is a concomitant increase in the dual burdens of responsibility and liability on the organizations that deploy them.