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Vetting Volunteers for Christmas/Advent Season

Updated: Jul 20, 2022

Although it is is months away, churches have already begun planning for Advent and Christmas, including finding volunteers for many activities. Volunteer recruitment and vetting can be challenging for event coordinators, but can make or break an event. United Methodist Insurance has partnered with PeopleFacts, a leader in background screening, to bring you best practices to consider as you begin working with new volunteers.

1. Start Recruiting Early

As you develop your plan for holiday programming, begin to consider the amount of help you will need and where people will serve. Develop a list of volunteer positions and the types of volunteers who will fit those positions. Being specific in your ask will help you recruit volunteers for your events.

2. Follow the Rules

Due to recent changes in background check policies and procedures, it is important for your church to ensure that your practices are legal. Discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin of a candidate is illegal and a focus of both the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Both organizations have created documents that can provide guidance for your church.

Several organizations have been sued recently because they failed to provide candidates the correct disclosure and authorization language or procedure errors. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • A candidate should always sign a compliant authorization form prior to your organization conducting a background check. You should retain those signed forms in case anyone ever questions the legitimacy of the authorization.

  • Federal law requires the disclosure and authorization forms to have no “extraneous” information. Do not add additional language on these forms or ask any questions on these forms other than what is required by applicable state and federal law.

  • The background screening/volunteering disclosure and authorization documents should never be merged with or be attached to any other document.

3. Work with an Accredited Firm

There are hundreds of screening firms you could use to help ensure the safety of your church and community.  Be sure to use an accredited firm. Through our partnership with PeopleFacts™ background screening, you have an all-in-one online system that can answer the question of how you will manage, screen, and train your volunteers and staff members. Should you choose to use a different organization, be sure they are accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS). This is one of the few recognized accreditation firms in the industry.

4. Be Open and Honest

Honesty is the best policy. If at any point in the background screening process you find information that influences your church not to allow someone to volunteer, that candidate has a right to dispute the reported information. This is called the Adverse Action Process and is required by federal law. Discuss with legal counsel how to avoid a violation of this process. Your conference chancellor could be a great resource.

5. Show Volunteers Gratitude

Whether individuals clear a background check or not, be sure to thank them and show appreciation for their willingness to volunteer. Not only does this produce good will with current volunteers, but potential volunteers could be swayed by such a gesture.

Vetting your volunteers properly gives you, the participants, and other church leaders the peace of mind to fully enjoy your programs. Start early, take your time, and show volunteers your appreciation.


This content has been prepared by United Methodist Insurance Company (UMI) for informational purposes only. No article or document may accurately contemplate all possible scenarios or church resources. As such, this information is meant to foster discussion by the individual church and its members to develop a plan tailored to its own circumstances. UMI is providing this information with no warranties or guarantees of any kind and it should not be viewed as legal, financial, or other professional advice. All liability is expressly disclaimed. Any claim examples described herein are general in nature, may or may not be based on actual claims, and are for informational purposes only. Any coverage available for a claim is determined from the facts and circumstances of the claim as well as the terms and conditions of any applicable policy, including any exclusions or deductibles. In the event of a conflict with the content herein, the terms and conditions of any issued policy will control. Individual coverage may vary and may not be available in all states.

The commercial insurance coverages for United Methodist Insurance are sold and serviced directly or indirectly by Sovereign Insurance Agency (CA Lic. No. 0B01380) ("Sovereign") and underwritten by various available insurance markets. Sovereign pays United Methodist Insurance a royalty for the use of its intellectual property.


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