Should your volunteers sign a waiver?

Many organizations use volunteers in some capacity throughout the year. Whether it’s for a few larger fundraising events or ongoing in important roles in the company, volunteers can be a critical component for an organization’s success. It’s important to properly screen and vet volunteers as well as to provide them with adequate training. Organizations often wonder if they should ask volunteers to sign waivers. While not always a requirement, having volunteers sign waivers can add an extra layer of protection for an organization.

Waivers for volunteers

A waiver or an exculpatory agreement is a document that can protect an organization from claims of negligence. An individual, say a participant in a race, signs a waiver agreeing they won’t hold the race organizers responsible for any injuries incurred during their participation in the race. Waivers are important for many different types of organizations. But do volunteers need to sign waivers? That depends on their role.

If there’s a possibility that a volunteer could get injured performing their duties, then it’s a great idea to have them sign a waiver. For example, if your organization works with animals and there’s any chance of a volunteer getting bit or hurt by the animals, they should sign a waiver. Clearly outlining the risks that the volunteer could encounter in their role is an important risk management technique. On the other hand, if a volunteer’s role doesn’t involve much risk of injury, then a waiver probably isn’t necessary. Each organization will have to decide whether the risk of injury to a volunteer is high enough to warrant using a waiver.

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