An Introduction to Protecting Your Volunteers

I volunteer sometimes with my church and at a couple other nonprofits. Quite frankly, I seldom think about whether I’m protected not. I don’t think about if I get hurt or if somehow I accidentally cause an injury.

I just serve and don’t think about it. And I’m an insurance agent! If anybody should be paranoid as a volunteer, it should be me.

The question begs: What does it mean to protect your volunteers?

Your Key Resource

Human beings are the most important resource for any organization.

Normally, there are some people who are the ultimate recipient of your services. And you have employees and contractors to help deliver those services.

One of the unique things about nonprofits is that volunteers factor into the equation prominently.

Volunteer board members help make decisions and guide the nonprofit’s vision and mission.

Volunteers help streamline business processes to make time for professional employees to deliver services.

Volunteers drive development and fundraising.

Volunteers can even fill key professional and even managerial roles.

If you’re a small nonprofit, volunteers might do everything from sweeping the floor, to the accounting, to delivering every service.

Photo: vastateparkstaff via Flickr

Photo: vastateparkstaff via Flickr

What Are Considerations in Protecting your Volunteers?

Over the next month, we’ll dig into how to protect your volunteers – both from a risk management and an insurance perspective. In this post, I want to help you ask the right questions.

I’ve discussed volunteers and insurance before, how a common question is ‘Are my volunteers insured?’ in reference to an insurance program.  This question is supremely loaded.

Here are the questions to ask:

  1. Am I covered for injuries to volunteers?
  2. Am I covered if a volunteer causes bodily injury or property damage while doing work for me?
  3. Is the volunteer covered if he or she is named in a lawsuit?
  4. Is the volunteer covered when they drive our vehicles or their own vehicles on our behalf?
  5. Is my volunteer or the organization covered if my volunteer is accused of sexual abuse or molestation?
  6. Is my volunteer covered if her negligence stems from professional acts?

In essence, most organizations want to know two things:

  1. Do we have coverage to injuries to the volunteer? or…
  2. Do we (and the volunteer) have coverage or defense if the volunteer causes some kind of injury or property damage or other lawsuit or claim?

Insurance has solutions to both injuries to volunteers and negligence by a volunteer. We’ll explore both of these situations over the next month.

What Questions Do You Have?

I’ve gleaned some of my questions from conversations with clients over the years. You might have questions around this topic.

Please feel free to send me your question in the comments below or send them to me in the form I’ve provided. I’d love to address them for you over the next month.



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