Charities: Get to know your volunteers

Volunteers can play an important role in charities. However throughout the pandemic many charities have seen a decline in numbers of volunteers. As the country begins to return to normality and events re-start, it is important that charities are able to regain volunteers to undertake their charitable activities.

Charities must ensure that they have policies and procedures in place for the recruitment and management of volunteers. They are in a position of trust and may have access to charity funds and personal data. It is therefore vital that proper due diligence is undertaken when recruiting new volunteers to get to know them and reduce the risk of fraud.

What is due diligence and why is it important?

Due diligence involves checks on the identity and credentials of potential volunteers. This could involve verifying ID, asking for references, requesting declaration of unspent criminal convictions and undertaking online searches. The charity should also ensure that it has written policies and procedures in place and that volunteers agree to these. 

Finally, following the successful recruitment of volunteers, there is a strong need to ensure that they are sufficiently trained for their role.

There are things to look out for in relation to volunteer fraud. These include:

  • Reluctance to provide information or references during the recruitment process
  • Difficulty keeping in touch with volunteers
  • Difficulty in getting information from volunteers
  • Unusual behaviour from volunteers

Take action

If you suspect fraud you should report this in accordance with the charity’s whistleblowing policy promptly. This should then be dealt with in line with the charity’s response plan, explaining how, when and by whom the suspected fraud will be investigated, reported and resolved. The fraud must be reported to the relevant national law enforcement agency and to the charity regulator.

Where can I go for more information?

October 18th – 22nd marks Charity Fraud Awareness Week and is headed up by The Charity Commission. This year Charities and NFP’s are being asked to make a difference by signing the pledge to actively prevent fraud wherever it may occur in their organisation.

For more information about fraud, cyber crime, how to spot and prevent it and tips on what you can do to protect you and your charity against it visit the Gov.UK website.

For further advice or tips, get in touch with a member of our Charity and Not for Profit team on 01903 234094.