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If your nonprofit needs a waiver of any sort for your volunteers, there are some key features you should consider. After all, to most people, waivers aren’t the most exciting part of a volunteer process. But it’s an incredibly important one! Therefore, working to be sure your volunteer program’s waivers are functional, engaging, helpful, and easy-to-use will help take your program to the next level.


volunteer liability waiver


Before you start designing your nonprofit’s volunteer program’s liability waiver, be sure to keep the following key features in mind:

  1. Transferring to a digital waiver
  2. Customizability of your waiver
  3. Elements to keep volunteers safe
  4. Advanced identity verification
  5. Early and easy accessibility
  6. Check-in and data downloads

How can you tell a good volunteer program from a great one? It all comes down to the details. Hammering out the details, such as creating great waivers, gives your entire program that little boost it needs to become great. Let’s dive in to learn more!

1. Transferring Your Paper Volunteer Waivers to a Digital Waiver

The first step to make sure your nonprofit is getting the most from your waiver is to switch to a digital solution. You may be thinking to yourself, “We’ve used paper waivers for years. Is a digital waiver going to be as valid as our current system?”

Yes! According to the E-Sign Act of 2000, digital waivers are accepted as legitimate as paper waivers. Specifically, it states, “a signature, contract, or other record relating to such transaction may not be denied legal effect, validity, or enforceability solely because it is in electronic form” 15 U.S.C. § 7001 (a) (1).

This Act goes on to list some other regulations to ensure these digital waivers remain valid, such as:

  • Presenting the waiver in an unalterable digital form.
  • Ensuring accessibility for the consumer.
  • Requiring consent from the consumer to sign electronically.

If you’re interested in learning more about the general functions of online waivers, check out re:Charity’s guide on the subject.

Also read: Finding Volunteers: 16 Strategies You Need to Know Now

2. Customizability of Your Volunteer Waiver

When you consider the customizability of your online waiver, there are two different customizability options to consider. The first is the customizability of the waiver’s branding; the second is customizability of questions.

Your organization’s branding, from colors to fonts to logos, holds an element of validity and trust with your supporters.

When someone views a document, the first thing their brain registers is the visual aspect (or brand) of that document. Your nonprofit should strive to ensure the visuals included in your waiver accurately reflect those used by your organization.

By effectively branding your online waiver document, you will make it immediately recognizable as sourced by your nonprofit to your volunteer.

Custom questions are key for reflecting and collecting all of the necessary information you need from your volunteers for accountability purposes.

The last thing you want is to be limited to a single signature when, in reality, your nonprofit needs more to maintain an accountable relationship with your volunteers.

It’s also important to remember that different types of information will require different types of questions for the volunteers to answer. Look for a solution that offers custom questions in the form of:

  • Drop-downs
  • Yes/No
  • Checkboxes
  • Initials
  • Signatures

Answering questions and verifying consent with questions, signatures, and initials throughout the body of the waiver not only provides a more comprehensive and complete waiver but also provides a more engaging waiver for your participants. This means they’ll be more likely to read it more thoroughly and understand better what they agree to.

3. Elements to Keep Volunteers Safe

When you have a fully functional and engaging waiver for your volunteers, you can use it for more than simply a liability form. It can also be a key safety tool to help protect your volunteers during any potentially dangerous activity, any potential for which should also be outlined in the job description.

The first safety feature to rely on from your waiver is a flagged question. Flagged questions are custom questions that will flag the participant when a specific answer is chosen.

When you set up flagged questions, your organization will be able to quickly and easily see who has chosen a specific answer for that question because their name is marked with a red flag in your console. For instance, if you were to ask your volunteers about previous or existing injuries, you could flag the answer “yes” and get a list of volunteers who may be at a greater risk.

In addition to flagged questions, video embedding allows your nonprofit to add safety videos to the waiver for your volunteers to watch before signing.

Safety or instructional videos will ensure your volunteers have a good background understanding of how to be safe on the job before they dive in.

By embedding the video into the waiver and requiring your volunteers to watch it before signing, your nonprofit can be sure they’ll have an understanding of how to be safe before they even show up for their job. This is especially important for various organization events which may have different equipment or necessary precautionary measures than usual.

This is why when you create your event strategy and start looking at event software to support those strategies, you should consider how different types of software will support your safety objectives.

Also read: Peer-to-Peer Fundraising – New Trends and What They Mean For Your Nonprofit

4. Advanced Identity Verification

Why do we sign papers by hand? Or write our signature by hand on a kiosk? Because our signature is unique. Therefore, it acts as an effective measure of identity verification.

As the scope of technology continues to expand, other methods of identification have emerged in addition to traditional signatures. Some of these include using:

  • Photo capture
  • Video
  • Thumbprints

Auto photo capture is the most accessible and useful identify verification tool for the majority of nonprofit volunteer programs.

Enabling auto photo capture allows organizations to snap a photo of your volunteers as they are in the midst of signing the waiver.

This is an additional step in identity verification that helps protect your nonprofit. Let’s take, for instance, an unfortunate story of Katherine. Katherine volunteers (and even creates a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign) for a bikathon hosted by a local nonprofit. Unfortunately, during the event, she ends up in a collision with a biker and hits her head.

In the delusion of her head injury, Katherine doesn’t remember whether or not she signed the nonprofit’s liability waiver. However, the auto photo capture feature of the nonprofit’s waiver technology took a picture of her signing, providing proof that she did, in fact, sign that waiver.

While we hope no nonprofit has problems like that one, it’s nice to know your nonprofit is protected in the off-chance something like that occurs. It takes the pressure off of your nonprofit and allows you to focus on the more important things (like helping Katherine seek medical attention for her head).

5. Early and Easy Accessibility of Your Volunteer Waivers

Online waivers provide the option for your nonprofit to collect waivers ahead of time and allow your volunteers to jump straight into working when they arrive at your office, event, or other venues.

In order to do this, your volunteers must have an easy way to access the waiver outside of your organization’s headquarters. The most likely place that they’ll look for it is on your website. There are three main distribution methods to connect your waiver to your volunteers before they come to work:


  • Upload a PDF to your site.This is a more traditional method of adding a waiver to your website. It requires your supporters to print, sign, and bring in their completed waiver before volunteering. While functional, you have less functionality and customizability with this method and your volunteers may forget to bring in the paperwork.
  • Email a waiver link to volunteers. Using an online waiver software, then emailing the link directly to your volunteers is a great option when you have a list of volunteers to work from. The only problem with this method is that you may not know who is attending until they’re all actually at the venue.
  • Create a waiver widget for your site. Waiver widgets are accessible to anyone who visits your website. The widget appears as a tab at the bottom of the screen so a volunteer can click, read, and sign your waiver without ever leaving the website.


If you’re interested in learning more about digital waiver distribution, check out Smartwaiver’s page on the subject.

What do we recommend? All three. The best way to appeal to more volunteers and help more people feel as comfortable as possible is to distribute the liability waiver in multiple locations. We also recommend having a kiosk available at the volunteer location for those who don’t wish to sign ahead of time.

6. Check-in and Data Downloads

The last features we’ll discuss for your organization’s waiver needs are check-in and data downloads.

When you encourage supporters to sign a waiver before showing up for their volunteer work shift, you can use the list of names generated from the waivers as a check-in resource.

Those who have already signed can simply be marked “present” as they arrive on site to volunteer. Meanwhile, those who haven’t yet signed can be asked to do so when they check in and their name isn’t on the “signed” list.

After the event is over, your nonprofit is left with all sorts of information about each of your supporters and volunteers. You’ll likely conduct prospect research about various supporters to create a map of the supporters for your organization and compare that to national statistics and data for comparison.

But where is the important information housed? Did you forget to ask a particular question in the registration? Well, hindsight is 20/20.

Next time, you’ll know that one of the great places to ask for information about your supporters is on a liability waiver. You’re able to pick their brains about the personal information that they need to answer to volunteer.

Integrating waiver software with a CRM streamlines this data into a more digestible format, and it sure beats sifting through paper after paper of client forms.

Your organization’s volunteer program is amazing. You have wonderful people who are highly driven and ready to help you succeed. But taking your program to the next level means solidifying some details necessary for success, one of which is your waiver.

These 6 features will help enhance your nonprofit volunteer program’s liability waiver. Little enhancements like these, implemented all across the strategy of your volunteer program will create a stronger overall approach to volunteering.

If you’re interested in purchasing an online waiver solution, do your research to find the one best suited for your organization’s particular needs. Click here to learn more about some of the top options out there!

This is a guest post by SmartWaiver.com

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