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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

When you are organizing volunteers, sometimes the work can seem overwhelming, though the rewards of working with volunteers are great! The following are some common questions, responses and related links as well as addresses to forums to get answers to your questions and additional resources for your volunteer concerns.

Click on a question for the answer and links to further information.

What does it mean to screen potential volunteers and why should I do it?

The approach to recruiting volunteers should be as careful as the process used for adding any new staff. Check the Volunteer's Legal Handbook. Also for information about screening virtual volunteers, see the Virtual Volunteering Project, a project of the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, The University of Texas Austin.

Must we do criminal background checks on our volunteers?

It is required by law for some types of assignments. For more information and resources, try the Nonprofit Risk Management Center. For links to your state's risk management office, please click here.

What should not be on a volunteer application form?

The Americans with Disabilities Act sets standards for recruiting and screening volunteers as well as employees. Please click here for detailed information.

Where can I find research on volunteerism and its impact?

Research on volunteerism is becoming more prolific. For a list of sources, please click here. The Independent Sector conducts research on the value of volunteer time as well as giving and volunteer patterns. The Points of Light Foundation & Volunteer Center National Network’s research and evaluation activities seek to build a bridge between volunteer management practitioners and the academic community to increase knowledge of volunteering and its effects on social problems.

How can I effectively develop collaborations to benefit my volunteer program?

In order to advance a community service initiative you must be able to work effectively with other organizations and within various community sectors. Attract and keep partners you need to advance your service goals and solve local problems. Discover ways to attend to group process, establish clear agreement and identify the benefits to each collaboration.

How do I develop creative volunteer roles?

Current volunteer trends include family volunteering as well as folks needing to volunteer on evenings and weekends. Creating volunteer opportunities that fit volunteer's scheduling needs is an important strategy to deepen your volunteer pool. Try The Nonprofit GENIE and the Points of Light Foundation & Volunteer Center National Network for tips.

Where can I list my volunteer opportunities?

Many services exist as intermediaries for small nonprofit service providers in recruiting volunteers. You can list your volunteer opportunities with your local Volunteer Center. Most communities have them. For more information about Volunteer Centers and to locate one near you, call 1-800-VOLUNTEER or visit In addition, you can list your volunteer opportunities on-line. As a beginning, try this website! Go to the top and click on "volunteer opportunities." The instructions will take you through all the steps necessary to list your volunteer opportunity and make it available to anyone seeking a volunteer role in your zip code. For a list of other sites where you can post volunteer opportunities online, please click here. Also, this section of the Volunteer Recruitment Learning Path explains where and how to list your volunteer opportunities online. Also includes some basic suggestions on how to start building your own web-site to recruit volunteers.

What is service-learning?

Service-learning is a teaching method that combines meaningful service to the community with curriculum-based learning. Students improve their academic skills by applying what they learn in school to the real world; they then reflect on their experience to reinforce the link between their service and their learning. Try the National Service Learning Clearing House, the Points of Light Foundation & Volunteer Center National Network, or Learning in Deed.

How do I engage youth in my volunteer program?

Service-learning requirements are becoming more common in school districts across the country. Effectively engaging youth is important and takes careful consideration. Try the Points of Light Foundation & Volunteer Center National Network, Youth Service America, the National Youth Leadership Council or the National 4H Council.

What are "days of service," when do they happen throughout the year, and for what purpose?

Celebrating volunteerism happens each day of the year, but a few are designated as special "days of service" for the purpose of giving visibility to volunteer service. These include: Make A Difference Day, National Youth Service Day, National Volunteer Week, and more. For a list of these celebrations try the Points of Light Foundation & Volunteer Center National Network, or Energize, Inc.

What are the different volunteer tracking software packages that exist?

Many tracking programs are out there. For a list as well as considerations for choosing a program that works for you, try the Association for Volunteer Administration and

How can I prevent volunteer burnout?

Sometimes the causes of burnout are within the volunteer and sometimes they are found within the service organization. Read about the steps your organization can take to help volunteers avoid burning out by clicking here. In addition, volunteers can burnout if the volunteer position is not a good fit.