Risk management plans are a great idea for any volunteer program. But given the number of things that can go wrong in even the most conscientious program, identifying all the potential sources of risk is no small task.
Here Kathleen McCleskey, founder of KM Consulting and Training (Liberty Hill,TX) identifies some of the most common areas of trouble that might warrant further consideration.
- Physical environment, including location (in/outdoors), weather, terrain, stairs, sidewalks, floors, widows, doors, electrical facilities, pathways, emergency exits, furniture, parking areas and storm shelters
- Clients being served, including age of clients, location of clients, services rendered to clients, timing of services (day or night, seasonal, etc.) and animal clients
- Length of time serving, including hotline fatigue/burnout, serving-client fatigue/burn out, time to complete task (too short a shift/too large a project), providing proper training (short or episodic volunteering) and no-human-interaction fatigue
- Age of volunteer, including knowledge/skill level, age-specific dangers, age-appropriateness of tasks, ability to perform tasks, location, timing, transportation and dementia
- Technology, including virtual volunteering, dangers to on-site computers (adding software, using flash drives, etc.) and access restrictions (who can work in the database, who can update the website, who can use other kinds of specialized digital equipment, etc.)
- Projects and special events, including handling of money, crowd control, on-site orientation/training and physical safety of the venue
- Organizational considerations, including disclosure policies and confidentiality statements, accommodations for vulnerable populations, training and arrangements for board members (who are board members, too)
- Other, including transportation for clients (volunteers’ drivers licenses, liability insurance, etc.), volunteering off site and protecting clients’ and volunteers’ personal property