How Should you React When Volunteers are Dishonest

April 1, 2013

When people volunteer for animal shelters, directors assume that they are there because of their passion for animals. It can be pretty devastating to discover that one of these volunteers is being dishonest. Once you realized that someone is stealing from the rescue, you’ll need to immediately take action.

Begin by contacting your rescue’s lawyer. He or she will probably recommend documenting the problem. This is as simple as writing down each time something happened, along with the date and time. Depending on the size of the theft, your lawyer may also suggest contacting the police.

If you aren’t sure which volunteer is being dishonest, you may need to take steps to figure out the culprit. While you may be tempted to just install a nanny cam to monitor the problem, many states actually prohibit businesses from making recordings with these types of hidden devices. Instead, you may need to count money or do supply inventory before and after each volunteer’s shift.

Once you figure out which of your volunteers is being dishonest, it is time to let him or her go. Again, consult your rescue’s lawyer to be sure you handle the situation correctly. Unless there is going to be a criminal case or the person in question is going to be required to reimburse the rescue for stolen funds or supplies, the process is pretty simple. Your lawyer will most likely recommend having another person with you as a witness during the exit interview and will probably also offer to create a document specifying why the volunteer is being fired for the three of you to sign.

Once the unpleasant task of firing a dishonest person is in the past, it is time to make sure you are ready if something like this should happen again. One of the most important things you can do is to create a written volunteer manual. As new people decide they’d like to volunteer for animal shelters, have them read and sign the manual. In the future, you’ll be able to simply pull out the signed document and talk to them about behaviors that aren’t appropriate or use it as the starting point if you have no choice but to let the volunteer go.


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