National Volunteer Week is just around the corner and that means many people will be seeking useful ways to volunteer their time and help their communities. This year, National Volunteer Week runs April 12 – 18. Any group – like a non-profit agency or faith-based organization – who could benefit from a few more helping hands should be prepared to field an assortment of phone calls, emails, and drop-ins from interested people.

This is an ideal opportunity to tell them about your cause and why you need the support of volunteers to accomplish your mission. It’s also an early chance to learn about the people contacting you. If you don’t already have set guidelines for on-boarding volunteers, it’s a smart move to make that important step. If background checks aren’t already a part of that on-boarding process, now is the time to incorporate them.

Don’t be surprised if your volunteer applicants have questions about the screening process, though. It can sound intimidating and frightening to some people who have never undergone a background check – even if they have absolutely nothing to hide. But being prepared for the types of questions you might face can help keep your on-boarding process on pace and quell your volunteers’ fears. Here’s some common questions you might encounter and our take on some useful answers.

What do the results show?

This depends greatly on the type of requested background check. For example, some basic searches check county criminal records, while more thorough screening procedures might examine a host of items:

Federal criminal records

Motor vehicle history

Past employment verification

Previous education verification

Reference checks

Credit check

Drug testing

Non-criminal background checks most likely showcase misinformation about employment history and educational degrees.

Here is a list of types of information that may be included in a background check. Most of them are public record.

  • Driving records
  • Vehicle registration
  • Credit records
  • Criminal records
  • Social Security number
  • Education records
  • Court records
  • Workers’ compensation
  • Bankruptcy
  • Character references
  • Neighbor interviews
  • Medical records
  • Property ownership
  • Military records
  • State licensing records
  • Drug test records
  • Past employers
  • Personal references
  • Incarceration records
  • Sex offender lists

In most cases, volunteer background checks are fairly basic but if you’ll be having someone work with a vulnerable population such as children or the elderly, you may want to consider something that digs a littler deeper.

How common are background checks?

This site claims that “surveys suggest that over 80% of companies conduct some type of background search, often including one or more of the following: criminal records checking, reference checking and past employment verification.”

It is becoming increasingly common for any religious organization who has people coming in contact with children to screen their volunteers.

How long do they take?

Turnaround time varies. Some companies will promise ‘instant’ results, but like anything else that sounds too good to be true, you should use caution around these service providers. Due to the careful nature of background checks and the collection of important and delicate information, it’s important to know that most reliable background screening providers will turn results for you in two to three days.

Protect My Ministry has developed a dynamic paperless solution that has greatly streamlined the amount of time it takes to process a volunteer. Read more about it here.

What information do I need to provide for a background check?

This is pretty simple. A correct name – first and last – and an accurate date of birth. Many screening service providers will also ask for a Social Security Number for candidates who are American citizens. This helps track down previous addresses in the most accurate manner possible.

How much do they normally cost?

This is not so simple to answer. Pricing plans vary for lots of reasons – basic vs. in-depth checks, one-offs vs. bulk requests. You may find background checks provided for as little as $20 or as much as $100. The best thing you can do is do some research and talk with various providers like Protect My Ministry who can tell you their pricing plans, but more importantly, explain why their services are best in class.

Protect My Ministry lets your organization take the lead in choosing what products and services you need. Using our Ministry Mobilizer, you can select the bundle package you need which helps keep prices where you want them.

Have any more questions for us? We’d be happy to answer them so you feel more confident in talking with your new volunteers! Shoot us a comment below or email us

Best of luck during National Volunteer Week!