Questions Nonprofits Should Ask About Background Checks

Nonprofit organizations solve problems, enrich communities and advocate for social good. The altruistic nature of many nonprofits’ work includes consistent interaction with vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly and people with disabilities. In order for nonprofits to protect the people they serve and expand their mission, they must do everything in their power to ensure safety and honesty in their staff and volunteer base. 

One way nonprofits can promote security is by background checking all of their workers, both paid and volunteer. By screening everyone who would like to associate with a nonprofit, leadership can more carefully select those representing the organization and place more trust in its team members. Before any nonprofit initiates a screening policy, it should clarify these questions nonprofits should ask about background checks with a screening agency.

What background information do nonprofits need to know?

A criminal history check is the baseline screening every organization should run on their applicants. Different organizations may require more specialized checks like driving records or certifications, but background check agencies can easily bundle those screenings with criminal checks. One Source provides county, state, multi-court and federal criminal checks as well as searches of the National Sex offender Registry and global watchlists in its standard TotalCheck package.

TotalCheck provides a full picture of an applicant’s criminal history, and One Source can include additional checks if necessary. You should identify screenings that may be relevant to your nonprofit—driving history, child abuse registries, drug screening or others.

How can a nonprofit create an ideal screening program?

Background checks are just one piece of an entire resource toolkit nonprofits should use to promote a safe environment. By developing and implementing a security program, you can supplement the information from background checks and further build credibility. Safety should be an expectation integral to a nonprofit’s organizational culture.

All team members should be screened every few years so you can stay up to date on the status of everyone associated with your organization. Subsequent screenings paired with educational materials demonstrating how safety is imperative to your mission should help create a transparent culture of security. When staff and volunteers join your nonprofit with the understanding of regular screenings, they will be more open to all security measures. One Source has screening programs designed just for nonprofits to allow consistent screening and stay within budget with special nonprofit pricing.

What if a background report raises concerns?

In order to disqualify applicants ethically and consistently, create a code of expectations your nonprofit follows when reviewing background reports. Determine what offenses do and do not exclude applicants from participating in your organization and stick to that plan. If you need assistance in deciding how your nonprofit will interpret reports, One Source can help.

If you decide not to hire an employee or volunteer based on the results of their background check, you must follow (pre) adverse action requirements and notify them in writing of as quickly as possible. Provide context for your reasoning and give the applicant the contact information of your screening agency so the agency can handle any disputes the applicant may file.

You should be able to focus on doing good without having to worry about their team members. Nonprofit screening solutions with One Source can help your organization stay safe even on a budget. Contact One Source Client Relations to learn more.

Your Fair Credit Reporting Act Compliance Crash Course

In 2016, Florida woman Theresa Jones applied to drive for Lyft, Inc. The rideshare company ran its typical pre-employment screening then immediately barred her from employment because of her criminal record.

However, the record reported in Jones’ screening was not hers. It was that of a different woman with the same name and same date of birth. Lyft’s credit reporting agency pulled these records with a “name-based only search,” which means common names like Jones may show multiple results. The agency did not dig farther into each result’s specific information to find the report that matched the real Jones. Lyft cleared up the confusion by confirming Jones’ identity with her fingerprints, but she still filed a lawsuit against the company.

She claimed the rideshare company took adverse action without giving her a chance to dispute the background check first. This unjustified consequence cost Jones weeks of work and broke compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

In 2019, Lyft rescreened Jones. Again, Lyft’s background check provider presented the wrong criminal record report and Lyft once again suspended her employment. This time, Jones filed a lawsuit against both Lyft and its screening provider. Jones now drives for a Lyft competitor.

Stories like this underscore why FCRA compliance is so important in the background check industry. When screening agencies and the organizations hiring them maintain the standards of the FCRA, all of these problems can be prevented.

Below is a breakdown of the Fair Credit Reporting Act compliance and how to protect your employees, business and reputation.

What is the FCRA?

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the FCRA “promotes the accuracy, fairness, and privacy of information in the files of consumer reporting agencies” to protect those subjected to background checks.

Under the FCRA, the candidates you screen have several rights throughout the background check process. In order to be compliant with the FCRA, your organization and the background check agency you hire must respect those rights.

Anyone you run a background check on has the right to know everything in their file. If they request access to their report, your consumer reporting agency must provide them with the information they have.

Those you screen also have the right to dispute any part of their background check they believe is incorrect or incomplete. Before you can take adverse action against an applicant, you have to give them the chance to dispute their report.

If the person disputing information in their report provides the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau with enough information to investigate their claim and their dispute is resolved, they have the right to get all the incorrect information erased or changed. Once this process is complete, you can proceed with hiring decisions.

How can I make sure my organization complies with the FCRA?

The most important and simplest thing any organization can do to stay complaint with the FCRA is ensure everyone gives written consent to a screening. No background check agency can give you any information without certainty that the subject is fully aware of the check. Including a consent form early in your application process is an easy way to secure compliance.

Once you have an applicant’s report, you must immediately notify them if you want to take adverse action against them. You need to explain what specific information in their report led you to your decision so they can see if the report is accurate.

In the case of Lyft, they were taken to court for notifying Jones that they had already taken adverse action without giving her any opportunity to correct her report. Following the FCRA can help you avoid this. 

To learn more about the FCRA or One Source’s FCRA compliance practices, contact One Source Client Relations.

Debunking 5 Common Background Check Myths

Hiring managers should use every tool available to build the best team for their organization. Professional background checks are the best way to ensure a safe, reliable work environment, but some misconceptions prevent organizations from seeking out screenings. We’re debunking 5 common background check myths about all aspects of the background check industry so you can confidently partner with an agency to expedite and secure your hiring process.

All the information in a background check can easily be found on the internet

There are many online companies advertising cheap and quick database records. However, that does not mean all internet databases are reliable for hiring purposes. The future of your organization depends on the quality of your hiring, so it pays to take time to let a professional background check agency scour government records. It is impossible to obtain a thorough, high-quality report instantly, but an agency can make a certified accurate report in just a few days.

Volunteers don’t need to be screened

Just because volunteers are not permanent, paid employees does not mean they are exempt from background checks. Some organizations depend on volunteers to manage their day-to-day operations, promote their mission and interact with the community. Volunteers are just as important to the existence of some organizations as paid employees. And they should be screened with equal scrutiny. If your organization regularly seeks the help of volunteers, an agency will manage your screenings with solutions tailored for volunteer organizations.

Organizations only run pre-employment checks

People are most familiar with the background checks they undergo during the hiring process, but ongoing screening can make sense for employers. Team members up for promotions or screened a long time ago should be rescreened. Create an environment of transparency where team members expect screenings. That way, your organization can promote safety and integrity while maintaining your team’s trust.

Background check services are too expensive for some organizations

Background check agencies exist to help organizations build safe communities. Their resources should be accessible to anyone who wants to improve their hiring process. Agencies often work with organizations to tailor services to their budget. For example, One Source offers solutions designed for nonprofit organizations which may not have budget to spare for volunteer screening.

Also, a background check costs less than complications from a bad hire. The ROI of a good hire exceeds the price of a check.

Applicants can be instantly disqualified for their background check results

Professional background reports are vastly more accurate than free internet reports, but they are not infallible. If an applicant’s report contains potentially disqualifying information, hiring managers must follow adverse action protocol before eliminating them. Applicants have the right under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to dispute the results of the report to ensure nothing was falsely reported. No applicant can be removed from the hiring process until their dispute is resolved.

That represented a quick debunking of 5 common background check myths. To learn more about background check solutions for your organization, contact One Source Client Relations.


OSCC Quarter 3 Report

Each quarter, we run a report to review the results of our One Source Certified Contractors (OSCC) program. This program is a rigorous check used to help decipher eligibility for site access with our TotalCheck background screening packages and the option of drug screening. From schools to construction sites, OSCC offers the screening you would normally require for your employees, to contractors who might otherwise go un-screened.

Minimum requirements include:

  • No felony or misdemeanor convictions for crimes involving weapons, drugs, violence, theft, robbery, burglary, terroristic threats or sexual offenses*
  • A negative drug test for amphetamines, cannabinoids, cocaine, opiates and phencyclidines (if drug screening option has been chosen by site)

Quarter 3 findings:

The Quarter 3 Report shows the OSCC program has continued to increase safety for many organizations. In Quarter 3, the total number of applicants screened reached well over 4,500 applicants. From this total, 343 applicants did not meet the minimum requirements, therefore denied site access. The OSCC screening process is to help organizations make educated decisions when it comes to the contractors they have on-site.


Check out the breakdown of the 343 applicants who failed to gain site access through our screening below.

To learn more about these results or our OSCC program, contact our OSCC Team.


*Please note, this is not an exhaustive list.


NEW & IMPROVED: Our One Source Certified Contractors (OSCC) User Guides have been updated. Check out our updated guides here!


4 Reasons to Screen Applicants with a Criminal Background Check

Vet your business’s applicants before bringing them into the fold with a quality employment background screening

An employee background screening gives you the context you need to make an informed hire for your company. For even greater insight, screen applicants with a criminal background check as part of that process. 

Verifying a criminal record as part of your pre-employment background check represents a must. If your prospective hire will carry out risk-laden tasks in their everyday role, this heightens in importance. These can range from driving a company vehicle to having facility keys to carrying a firearm. 

Furthermore, before baking a criminal background check into your pre-employment screening, make yourself aware of the restrictions. State and federal laws outline these rules and regulations, and anti-discrimination laws are in place to ensure applicants are treated fairly regardless of their past. Bringing on an employee with a checkered past isn’t uncommon—after all, most people deserve a second chance—and the results of a criminal background check don’t prevent you from making a hire. 

With that in mind, here’s why 4 reasons to screen applicants with a criminal background check. 

Protect your people

Hiring the wrong person doesn’t just put your business at risk. It can endanger the people around you.

However, while you can overlook a candidate’s past mistakes, you should be cognizant of your current employees and mindful of their safety. If you ignore a past transgression that could reoccur during normal work duties (e.g. hiring a delivery driver with a DUI), you could be in jeopardy of negligent hiring claims. It’s not illegal but can make your company liable (in this instance, if the employee was convicted of another DUI while on the job and injured someone).

Your new hire must integrate with your current staff and be safe around customers and the public. Therefore, ensure you have all the information to make a hire safe for all parties involved. 

Safeguard your company from risk

Adding a criminal background check to your pre-employment screening is like adding insurance to your hiring process. By making sure your applicants meet your company’s hiring standards, you’ll mitigate the risk of employing someone who could be a liability to your organization and employees.

Employing the wrong person could lead to countless unintended consequences if their record isn’t behind them. It can be avoided when you have all the pertinent information available to you before you send out offers.

Save time and money by hiring the right person—the first time

Hiring for open positions poses enough challenges. If you make the wrong hire because a criminal background check couldn’t save you from making an ill-advised hire, you can cost your company thousands.

Therefore, spare yourself some déjà vu and your business a financial loss. 

Avoid PR fallout

If a poor hire ends up endangering or harming customers or coworkers, you’ll have created a public relations crisis. On top of the money it costs your company to hire and fire a problem employee, it will cost your communications staff time and effort that could’ve been better spent on positive marketing outreach. To make matters worse, it can be harmful to your brand and make hiring the next time even harder.

Warning signs of belligerent behavior can be flagged in pre-employment background checks that include criminal record screenings.

New to the world of background checks? Then, explore our wide array of insights, tips and employment background screening guides on the OneSource blog.