Volunteers help you save money, fill gaps in your staff, and offer skills that regular employees don’t have. But volunteers also come with risks that can cause severe issues for your organization.
In this article, we’ll discuss why volunteer insurance is so important and what types of coverage you should have to protect both the volunteers and your organization.
The Increasing Number of Volunteers
The number of volunteers has increased in the past years. According to Statista, there were 64.4 million volunteers in 2017. But data from the 2019 Current Population Survey: Civic Engagement and Volunteering Supplement by AmeriCorps conclude that the number increased to 77.9 million or one-third of the Americans in 2019.
There are now more volunteers than ever, and many organizations rely heavily on their unpaid workforce. This means that volunteering is a critical part of these organizations’ work in communities across the United States.
Volunteers contribute their time and energy to support important causes like feeding the hungry or providing shelter for people who need it most. Still, they also play an important role in fundraising efforts. Organizations depend on donations from individuals who want to make an impact with their charitable gifts.
Volunteers are often responsible for fundraising campaigns because they know how much good work there are being done by these organizations to keep them running smoothly every day.
What Claims Can Be Brought Against Non-Profit Organizations
Non-profit organizations, like for-profit businesses, can be subject to various legal claims. Some common types of claims that may be brought against non-profit organizations include:
- Breach of contract: If a non-profit organization enters into a contract and fails to fulfill its obligations under that contract, the other party may be able to bring a claim for breach of contract.
- Employment discrimination: Non-profit organizations are subject to federal and state laws prohibiting discrimination based on race, sex, and age.
- Discrimination in services: Non-profits which provide services to the public may be liable for discrimination if it shows an unjustified difference in the treatment of people based on certain factors.
- Fraud and financial misconduct: Non-profit organizations must use their funds for the purposes they were solicited and may be liable for fraud or other financial misconduct if they fail to do so. One example of such a lawsuit is the recently settled fraud against Maranatha Human Services. The non-profit was found guilty of inflating medical records. The Maranatha Human Services then agreed to close the lawsuit for $850,000 in a settlement.
- Failure to provide goods or services: Non-profits that were expected to provide certain goods or services, and fail to do so, may be liable for breach of contract or consumer fraud.
- Product liability: A non-profit that manufactures, imports, or sells a product can be held liable for any injuries or damages caused by that product.
- Intellectual property disputes: Non-profits can be subject to disputes over trademarks, copyrights, or patents, just like any other organization.
- Personal injury and property damage: Non-profit organizations may be held liable for personal injuries or property damage caused by their negligence or wrongful conduct.
Types of Volunteer Insurance Non-Profits Should Have
There are many different types of insurance you can choose from.
General Liability Insurance
General Liability Insurance protects you from a lawsuit if someone is injured while on your property or if they are hurt by something you own. It also protects your volunteers. Volunteers are at the heart of your non-profit. There’s only so much you can do if there are no volunteers.
If you run an organization that relies on volunteers, it’s vital that you have this type of insurance coverage. Volunteers who work for non-profits provide a service to the community and can be invaluable assets in providing essential services to those who need them most.
However, there is always the risk that one of these volunteers will get hurt or injure someone else while performing their duties on behalf of your organization. This could result in costly legal fees if there isn’t any general liability coverage for your operation.
Your general liability insurance should provide enough coverage to help pay for medical bills and other expenses for the volunteers. This kind of insurance for volunteers can help motivate them to dedicate their time and efforts to the greater benefit of society.
For instance, recently, volunteers from the Crete Volunteer Fire Departments were called to fight wildfires that tore through Lancaster county. While the fire was controlled successfully, two volunteers got injured. If you can’t cover your volunteers’ expenses for such events, they won’t be encouraged to perform their duties.
Volunteer Liability Insurance
While general liability insurance protects your volunteers, volunteer liability insurance protects your non-profits from the liabilities caused by them. Volunteer liability insurance covers a non-profit organization from risks associated with volunteers, including personal injury and property damage.
This type of insurance may not be a part of your organization’s standard business insurance policy. Still, it can help you manage the many potential claims that arise from having volunteers on the job. While volunteering is an important part of what makes a non-profit great, it does come with some risks. Volunteer liability coverage can help:
- Protect against lawsuits for injuries sustained by volunteers or other members of your organization and those involved in their activities.
- Cover any lawsuits you might face if someone gets hurt during one of your events or activities due to poor planning/organization or negligence on behalf of others involved in these activities.
Cyber Liability Insurance
Another type of insurance you should consider is cyber liability insurance. Cyber liability insurance protects your organization against cyberattacks. Cyberattacks on NGOs are becoming more common. From the attack on the International Committee of the Red Cross to New Zealand’s Volunteer Service Abroad, many NGOs have faced cyberattacks.
During a cyberattack:
- An individual may lose personal photos and emails after his computer gets infected with malware. Still, if necessary, he can quickly restore his files from an external hard drive or cloud storage service like Dropbox or Google Drive.
- A business may face downtime while it works to repair its systems after being hacked into by an online hacker group, but it has access to all the needed resources.
The sad thing is that despite increasing cyberattacks, the efforts to fight them are low. According to data from the Relief Web, only one in 10 NGOs train staff on cybersecurity, and only 1 in 4 monitor their network for cybersecurity.
These attacks can impact your finances significantly. Cyber liability insurance can help cover the damages so that you can quickly get back to helping those in need.
Non-profit organizations can benefit significantly from having volunteer insurance. Volunteers play a key role in the success of a non-profit, but they also have the potential to cause problems for it. Volunteer insurance gives you peace of mind that your non-profit has the coverage it needs and the volunteers are protected. If you don’t have volunteer insurance, consider looking into it today.