Reprinted by permission of Catalyst Center for Nonprofit Management.  Further duplication without permission is prohibited.

Childhood victimization and other abuses of our most vulnerable citizens unfortunately remain a much too prevalent and tragic issue of our times.  Particularly offensive is the possibility of physical or emotional abuse of those susceptible because of age, disability or circumstance while receiving services of a nonprofit. Safety efforts to protect the very people being served by a nonprofit, regardless of size, must be constantly monitored.

Even the smallest nonprofit should adopt safety-related policies based on nationally recommended guidelines developed by experts.  Such policies and guidelines help protect both the recipients of the nonprofit’s services and the integrity of the nonprofit’s programs.  Every nonprofit that serves children and youth has the obligation to exercise “reasonable due diligence” with regards to screening as part of its hiring and vetting programs for members of the nonprofit’s Board, staff and volunteers. Without such screening or gate-keeping vigilance, the very people the nonprofit is trying to serve are more likely to be unprotected and the reputation of the nonprofit (not to mention its fiscal health) are at unnecessary risk.

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