Managing Volunteer Drivers: Best Practices for Nonprofit Organizations

In part one of this blog, we discussed volunteer drivers so that your nonprofit clients could better understand their risk exposure. Here, in part two, we’ll look at the steps nonprofits can take to better manage volunteers who drive on behalf of their organizations.

According to the Nonprofit Risk Management Center (NRMC), the more miles volunteers drive, the more vulnerable the nonprofit and its clients are to accidents and injury. Moreover, volunteer drivers who provide transportation to children or vulnerable adults require additional safety considerations that aren’t typically present for drivers who don’t have passengers in their vehicles.

When considering volunteer drivers, organizations need to be proactive in their efforts to lessen their risk exposure. The NRMC suggests the following best practices for managing the risk that an unprepared driver may encounter behind the wheel.

  • Develop and conduct a regular driver screening process. Organizations should prequalify all potential drivers by way of a standard screening process. This includes having volunteers provide proof of a valid driver’s license, checking to ensure that their vehicle registration is current and conducting a formal review of their motor vehicle driving history. The screening process should also establish guidelines to determine which driving infractions automatically make a driver ineligible.
  • Establish an incident response plan. For drivers who qualify, organizations should provide written guidelines on the proper protocol to follow in the event that a driver has an accident while driving on behalf of the nonprofit. This can include how to properly handle an accident or other emergency situations to keep drivers and passengers as safe as possible and to quickly get the help or care they need in a crisis.
  • Create a written code of conduct. Volunteers who will regularly transport passengers should have a guide to help them understand their responsibilities as a driver. This can include how they should be assisting clients into and out of vehicles (especially when it comes to passengers with disabilities), how many passengers they can safely transport at one time and guidelines for ensuring the safety of minor children.
  • Establish a volunteer driver pledge form. The NRMC recommends having volunteers sign a pledge form. This can include:
    • An outline of whose insurance is responsible when the volunteer is driving on behalf of the organization.
    • An agreement that the volunteer will maintain his or her vehicle in good condition.
    • A pledge to report any driving citations received — even if issued while the volunteer is driving on personal time.
    • An agreement that should an accident occur, the volunteer will complete an accident report and immediately submit to a supervisor.
    • A pledge to comply with all laws and regulations concerning driving, including laws pertaining to the use of seat belts, child safety seats, cellphone use and speed limits.

As an insurance professional, it’s important to educate your nonprofit clients on what the organization’s own auto insurance will and won’t cover and to identify any potential gaps. You can also help them better manage their volunteer driver risks by pulling MVRs on all potential new drivers and running annual MVRs on current drivers.

Charity First understands the unique and complex risks that come with the incredible work of organizations that utilize volunteers to provide transportation and other services for the elderly, children and other vulnerable populations. To learn more about our comprehensive insurance products built especially for nonprofit organizations, please contact us at 800-352-2761 or