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Application & Screening

Getting the information you need on the volunteer application

It’s hard to overstate the importance of making sure you have the right volunteer for your organization's needs. Determining if you have the right person starts with an application that gives you the information you need.

Besides collecting basic contact and availability information, it is a good idea to ask some questions to get to know more about your volunteers. What are their interests and why are they volunteering? Find out if they have any special skills that you could utilize, and if they are interested in making a long-term commitment, or if they just want to do short term work. Knowing these things will help you get the most out of your volunteers, as well as provide the volunteer with a more enriching experience.

Take a look at these examples of applications from organizations who participated in VIP 360.

  • Here is an example of a volunteer application from the Hearing Speech and Deafness Center, an organization that provides educational, service, and supply resource for deaf, hard-of-hearing, and speech impaired people.
  • Here is another sample application from the Low Income Housing Institute, an organization that develops, owns and operates housing for the benefit of low-income, homeless and formerly homeless people in Washington State.
  • Ask questions like those included in the volunteer questionnaire from Denise Louie Education Center, Denise Louie promotes school and life readiness by providing multi-cultural early learning services to children and families.

Background checks

If your organization works with special needs populations or with young adults or children, do background checks and follow the rules of your contracts carefully. It is a good idea to include background check permission forms and confidentiality agreements with your application materials. Here are some examples from more 2010 and 2011 VIP participants:

  • Life Long AIDS Alliance requires its volunteers to sign a volunteer agreement. Life Long AIDS Alliance provides a wide range of services and support to people living with HIV and AIDS, as well as promoting HIV prevention in the community.
  • Denise Louis Education Center uses this background check form. Because this organization works with young children, the form must be extremely thorough and comply with state and federal law.

Another important step is to screen applications and conduct interviews. Do you have a set of good interview questions? Successful screening and in-depth interviews can prevent many types of supervision, liability, and management problems with volunteers. Interviews also give make it easier for you to place the volunteer in a role that they see as appropriate and appealing.

Return to Topics in Volunteer Management Guide.