Non-Profit Volunteer Release and Waiver of Liability
Non-Profit Volunteer Release and Waiver of Liability Preparation Form (Coming Soon) – We recommend that you gather the information in this form prior to accessing the online questionnaire. Doing so will help you efficiently create your custom Non-Profit Volunteer Release and Waiver of Liability.
SummaryNon-profit charitable organizations often rely on volunteers to perform a variety of tasks that are critical to the non-profit’s mission. Some of these tasks may involve a risk of injury. For example, volunteers may assist with:
- Leading sports or recreational activities for children.
- Preparing and serving meals in homeless shelters.
- Providing medical services in low-income communities.
- Performing construction-related work for disaster relief projects.
- Driving clients to appointments.
DetailsDepending on the nature of the organization and the types of activities its volunteers perform, non-profits may face substantial risks, including liability for a volunteer’s personal injury and other claims. Therefore, a non-profit should take steps to:
- Educate its volunteers about the need for safety and protect them from harm.
- Minimize the likelihood and impact of claims and resulting damage to the non-profit’s reputation.
- Protect its funds and ensure the non-profit uses those funds for the its mission rather than to defend legal claims.
Release of Liability and Waiver of RightsThis document is a release of liability and waiver of rights agreement (commonly referred to as a release or a liability waiver) for a non-profit to use when it has volunteers help with a program, event, or activity. The law does not require non-profits to obtain volunteer releases. However, releases are an effective protection against liability when the parties use them as part of a broader risk management approach. Some insurers also require non-profits to obtain releases from their volunteers, particularly if volunteer services involve inherently dangerous activities. By signing the release, the volunteer agrees to:
- Assume the risk of injury inherent in the volunteer activity.
- Absolve, exculpate, and forgive the non-profit in advance of liability arising from the ordinary negligence of the non-profit (and its employees, agents, and other representatives).
- Relinquish its rights to a claim against the non-profit.
Risk ManagementA non-profit should use volunteer releases as part of a comprehensive risk management program that includes:
- Taking reasonable precautions to create a safe work environment.
- Establishing a process and creating rules for supervising and monitoring volunteers.
- Preparing a volunteer handbook and other policies that protect volunteers and address the types of risks to which they may be exposed.
- Conducting volunteer orientation and training to:
- educate volunteers about the non-profit’s mission, programs, policies, and procedures; and
- provide volunteers with any safety training (such as instructions on how to operate equipment or requirements to work in pairs) and other knowledge needed to perform their volunteer activities.
- Providing information to volunteers on how to report any problems they encounter while performing volunteer activities.
- Securing appropriate insurance to cover the non-profit’s volunteer activities.
Drafting ConsiderationsThis document provides a general template to assist in drafting a release. The authors drafted this document broad terms to cover a wide range of circumstances and favors the non-profit seeking the waiver. A non-profit may want to include other details in its release, depending on the type of volunteer activities involved. For example, a release could:
- Require that volunteers report any safety concerns.
- Recommend that the volunteer obtain medical insurance.
- Include a confidentiality provision if the volunteer will have access to sensitive or personal information (for example, about the non-profit’s beneficiaries).
RecordkeepingNon-profits should retain all original, executed volunteer releases in a secure location so that they can quickly access the documents when necessary. To determine the retention period for volunteer releases, a non-profit should consider:
- Best practices, which is generally five to seven years after the volunteer’s service ends.
- If the volunteer activity was part of a program sponsored by government funds or other grants, any retention period required by the government contract or grant.
AssumptionsThis release assumes that:
- A non-profit organization seeks the release. However, many of the concepts in this release may also apply to the use of volunteers by other types of organizations.
- The release is given by a US person in favor of a US entity, and the volunteer services take place in the US. If the non-profit is organized or operates in or any part of the volunteer services takes place in a foreign jurisdiction, this release may need to be modified to comply with applicable laws in the relevant jurisdiction.
- This release is not given in connection with terminating a contractual arrangement or settling a pending lawsuit or in an employment context. For parties to use a sample release agreement:
- when the parties to a commercial contract are terminating or have terminated the contract (or a portion of it) and agree to deliver a mutual release of claims,
- when settling a lawsuit; and
- by an organization for employees engaged in employer-sponsored activities.
- This document is not industry-specific. This release does not account for any industry-specific laws, rules, or regulations that may apply to certain transactions, products, or services.
- This document does not account for the differences among individual state laws. This release is jurisdiction-neutral. For example, this document does not:
- reflect the charitable immunity protections that may be available in a few states; or
- address state laws where pre-injury releases of liability for future negligent acts may be deemed unenforceable (such as in Virginia).
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