Song of frustration re: volunteering

handstopDave Carroll became famous for writing a song and making a video about United Airlines smashing his guitar and not taking responsibility for it. The video went viral, Mr. Carroll not only appeared on various media outlets as a result, including CNN and The View, not only did United give him the financial settlement and apology he’d been demanding for months, he also became a paid speaker for various conferences and retreats, talking about “inhuman customer-service policies” and their unseen costs: loss of customer trust (and, therefore, customers), brand destruction, and more.

In February of this year, after he tried to volunteer at his son’s school, Mr. Carroll produced another song and video, this one about his frustration at trying to volunteer at his son’s school. It’s called “There’s Got to Be a Better Way.” You can watch the entire video, where Mr. Carroll makes fun of the volunteer screening at length, or just jump to the song about the experience at the 5:56 mark.

IMO, the video and song are a PERFECT example of thoughtless volunteer screening, where nonprofit and public sector organizations are interested just in checking a box rather than doing MEANINGFUL, effective screening of someone to work with kids.

I am so tired of seeing the question on discussion groups for managers of volunteers: “Where can I get a cheap criminal background check for potential volunteers?” or “How do I get a discount at the police station for police to do background checks of potential volunteers.” These people are looking for a box to check, rather than creating a culture that keeps everyone safe. Instead, read Screening Volunteers to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse: A Community Guide for Youth Organizations (it’s free to download) and use its very effective ways for screening out inappropriate candidates and creating a culture of safety. Combine it with Beyond Police Checks: The Definitive Volunteer & Employee Screening Guidebook by Linda Graff, available from Energize, Inc. (but not for free), and you’ve got a solid, more-than-basic understanding of risk management in volunteer engagement activities, and know how to better assure safety without driving away quality volunteering candidates. You also will understand how mindlessly enforcing protocols, without thinking about their purpose, doesn’t keep anyone safe.

Also see these related blogs:

Screening applicants by reviewing their online activities

Safety in virtual volunteering

Keeping volunteers safe – & keeping everyone safe with volunteers

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