Ignoring Employee Training Can Increase Liability Risks for Nonprofits

From new hires and volunteers, to changing roles and promotions for staff, workplace training is necessary in helping workers of nonprofits be more effective in their positions. In addition, implementing a training and cross-training program can help an organization better mitigate employment-related liabilities.  

A recent study by Lorman shows that while 74% of workers surveyed said that they are willing to learn new skills, 59% say that they have yet to receive any formal workplace training and that most of their skills were self-taught while on the job. When you consider what can go wrong by having employees and volunteers go about doing their jobs and not knowing the right and wrong way to do them, there is a lot at stake.

The fact is, industry trends, regulations and in-demand skills are always changing. If your nonprofit clients feel that they don’t have the time to implement a staff/volunteer training and development program, they need to think about the risks of not doing so.

For example, let’s say an organization promotes a staff member to a supervisor position managing volunteers. When thrust into a new position without the proper training, how will the new supervisor know how to properly handle conflicts, safety concerns and diversity issues? Another example would be a staff member who runs all of the organization’s outreach programs and now, must suddenly take a leave of absence. Putting someone in charge who is unfamiliar with the responsibilities and obligations that come with the job can create issues that could put the organization at risk for a potential employment practice liability lawsuit.

As employers, your nonprofit clients have a legal obligation to provide their staff and volunteers with adequate training in order to do their jobs properly. By ignoring this responsibility, organizations could face legal repercussions, an increase in workplace accidents, decreased staff morale and more absences and employee turnover.

Getting started with a training program

The Nonprofit Risk Management Center outlines a basic process that your nonprofit clients can use to get started with their own training program.

  • Clearly identify the main tasks and responsibilities for every employee, board member and volunteer. This should include a list of backup staff who are trained in this specific role and who can fill in when needed.
  • Identify specific duties associated with each role that typically require more time. This creates an opportunity to redistribute responsibilities based on each person’s workload or interest and ensures that in the event of a business interruption, there will be proper coverage from someone who knows the job.
  • Create job shadow opportunities. Partnering an employee or a volunteer with another staff member is a basic yet effective way to train others and gives that individual a better understanding of the job and responsibilities.
  • Establish a cross-training program. Cross-training staff and volunteers is a proven strategy to help minimize the consequences of an unplanned leave. Employees and volunteers who are properly cross-trained in other areas of the organization can be a readily available source for stepping into a position when someone leaves or is unable to work, as well as when extra help is required.

“Training nonprofit staff should not be a one-size-fits-all program. Instead, organizations can look to their internal resources — existing procedures, trainings and employee expertise — to enhance the nonprofit’s training program.” Source: Nonprofit Risk Management Center.


Your nonprofit clients are already working with a full plate, and to some, having to take the time to develop and implement a training program may seem like just another task. The good news is that a program doesn’t have to be implemented overnight. By taking just a few steps, organizations can begin the process of creating a training program that they can build on over time.

About Charity First

When it comes to working with nonprofits, we understand that your clients are often asked to do more with less. It’s why we’ve always made it our goal to provide your clients with more insurance options and protection at an affordable cost. From broadened coverage for general liability to comprehensive cybersecurity and data protection, we’re committed to consistently providing best-in-class underwriting and risk management services. To learn more about our products, please contact us at 800-352-2761 or marketing@charityfirst.com.