In this article, you’ll learn:
What Is a Volunteer Liability Waiver?
A volunteer waiver protects a service provider, like your nonprofit, from liability in the event of an accident involving any of your volunteers.
The volunteer waiver should serve as a document of understanding between the nonprofit and its volunteers. It’s important that volunteers are aware of the level of risk involved and are willing to sign a volunteer waiver form before partaking in the activity to ensure your nonprofit and its volunteers are safe from the outset.
Volunteers should sign a liability waiver document when participating in activities with risk involved (such as building homes or renovating community spaces).
Let’s jump right in with some waiver templates. Then, we’ll look at why you may need these waivers, and how to choose the best one for your volunteer needs.
Volunteer Liability Waiver Templates
Are you looking for volunteer liability waiver templates and release forms? We’ve got you covered!
In our download you’ll have access to these templates:
- Volunteer Waiver and Release of Liability Form
- Volunteer Release Form for Minors
Why Do Nonprofits Need a Volunteer Liability Waiver?
Here are the top reasons your nonprofit needs a volunteer waiver:
- To ensure your organization is protected by law so that you can continue to have a positive impact on your community.
- To clear your organization of fault if an accident occurs, and inform your volunteers that they are not covered under workers’ compensation.
- To inform volunteers of the risks associated with the volunteer activity.
- To educate participants, parents and guardians, and volunteers about the nature of the activity, its purpose, benefits, and possible risks.
- To help staff, participants, clients, and stakeholders feel supported and prepared.
Managing digital waivers is an important part of your volunteer management process. Get Connected by Galaxy Digital is a robust volunteer management software with an integrated online waiver feature.
Collecting and storing volunteer waivers has never been easier!
What Are the Components of a Waiver and Release Form?
What should you include in your liability waiver and release form?
Your form may include the following sections:
- Volunteer Details - Name, Address, Phone Number, and Email
- Volunteer Activity Details - Include the title of the volunteer role, date, and location of the activity.
- Emergency Contact - Include a form for name and phone number of the emergency contact person, and relationship to the participant.
- Acknowledgment of Terms - This section outlines the terms of the document and acknowledges that it is for a volunteer position. You’ll also want to acknowledge that the volunteer will receive zero compensation for their participation in the volunteer activity.
- Risks - List general risks involved in participating in the volunteer activity. If the role is unique or inherently risky, include specific risks of which the volunteer should be aware.
- Assumption of Risk - In this section, the volunteer confirms that they will assume the risk involved in the volunteer activity.
- Liability Waiver and Release - Clearly state that your organization is not liable in the unlikely event that the volunteer experiences harm, injury, or death while performing a volunteer activity. Language should also release your organization from all claims made by the volunteer or on behalf of the volunteer.
- Medical Treatment - This section confirms that the volunteer will release your organization from any claim if the volunteer received medical treatment while volunteering.
- Photographic Release - If your organization plans on taking photos and videos of volunteers during the activity, you’ll want to include a section granting image and video rights to your organization.
- Signature and Date - The participant (and/or legal guardian, if applicable) must sign and date the form willingly in order for it to be valid and legally binding.
Examples of Volunteer Liability Waivers
There are several types of volunteer waivers that your organization or program may choose to use. Here is an overview of the types of waiver forms you may encounter, along with liability waiver forms templates you can download.
Simple Liability Waiver
It’s a good idea to have a generic volunteer waiver of liability form handy that you can attach to a majority of your volunteer opportunities. Many of your opportunities may entail general workplace risks that should be covered by your waiver.
Below is an example of a simple liability waiver:
In return for being allowed to participate in [Organization] volunteer activities and all related activities, including any activities incidental to such participation (“Volunteer Activities”), the undersigned Volunteer or Parent/Legal Guardian of Volunteer if Volunteer is under age 18 (hereafter referred to using “I”, “me”, or “my”) releases and agrees not to sue the [Organization] or its officers, directors, employees, sub-contractors, sponsors, agents and affiliates (“the Foundation”) from all present and future claims that may be made by me, my family, estate, heirs, or assigns for property damage, personal injury, or wrongful death arising as a result of my participation in the Volunteer Activities wherever, whenever, or however the same may occur.
I understand and agree that the [Organization] is not responsible for any injury or property damage arising out of the Volunteer Activities, even if caused by their ordinary negligence or otherwise.
I understand that participation in Volunteer Activities involves certain risks, including, but not limited to, serious injury and death. I am voluntarily participating in the Volunteer Activities with knowledge of the danger involved and I agree to accept all risks of participation.
I also agree to indemnify and hold harmless the [Organization] for all claims arising out of my participation in the Volunteer Activities.
I understand that this document is intended to be as broad and inclusive as permitted by the laws of the state in which the Volunteer Activities take place and agree that if any portion of this Agreement is invalid, the remainder will continue in full legal force and effect.
I also acknowledge that the [Organization] has not arranged and does not carry any insurance of any kind for my benefit or that of Volunteer (if Volunteer is under 18), my parents, guardians, trustees, heirs, executors, administrators, successors, and assigns.
I represent that, to my knowledge, I am in good health and suffer no physical impairment that would or should prevent my participation in Volunteer Activities.I also understand that this document is a contract that grants certain rights to and eliminates the liability of the [Organization].
Volunteer Release Form
You may come across the terms “liability waiver” and “liability release.” But what’s the difference?
The main difference between a release and a waiver is the transfer of ownership.
When rights or liability are waived, as in a liability waiver, the participant (signee) gives up their right to sue the organization.
When rights or liability are released, as in a release form, this liability is transferred from one party to another.
If your organization is holding a charity run, you may ask runners to sign a liability release form; if runners are injured during the event, the liability release form will shift responsibility for injury from your organization to the runner.
Many organizations choose to integrate their volunteer liability waiver with a release of liability form. This ensures that the signee waives the right to sue and assumes any risk involved in the volunteer activity.
Role-Specific Liability Waiver
Sometimes, a role may require a waiver that addresses specific risks associated with the volunteer activities. These activities may include:
- Working with vulnerable populations
- Working with children
- Construction activities (working with power tools)
- Disaster-response activities
- Physical activities (charity run, sports event)
In addition to your general liability waiver information, you’ll also want to detail the following types of information to prepare your volunteers for work specific to the activity:
- Physical requirements for the job (i.e., minimum weight one must be able to lift)
- Emotional/mental difficulties that could arise during the activity
- Locations and environments where work will occur
- Explanation of the individuals volunteers can expect to work with (i.e., young children)
Volunteer Release Form for Minors
Your organization may invite individuals under the age of 18 to participate in your volunteer activities. If this is the case, you should have a separate volunteer waiver of liability and release form for minors. This form should require the signature of the participant and the parent or guardian.
Volunteer Agreement Form
While not as common, a volunteer agreement is a more encompassing document that may be especially helpful for community organizations and their volunteers.
A participant agreement outlines the relationship between the host (your organization) and the participant (volunteer).
A nonprofit volunteer agreement form should not only describe the risks involved in an activity (the legal component), but it should also describe your organization’s rules for participation.
Here are some more components of the nonprofit and volunteer agreement:
- Description of activity - Describe activity specifics, including possible conditions (such as hot or cold weather).
- Inherent risks - Communicate that your organization cannot guarantee the safety of participants. But your organization and its volunteers can work together to avoid risky behaviors and reduce risk.
- Safety rules - Include your organization’s rules to help make the experience a safer one. This section can be especially helpful when working with minors, to ensure children and young adults understand that they are expected to act safely and appropriately.
- Participant confirmation - The agreement should also ask volunteers to confirm their ability to participate based on the role description and rules. You may choose to ask volunteers to list any physical conditions or illnesses if the activity is particularly strenuous.
- Permission to treat - This grants the organization to treat a child or adult in the case of an emergency at the cost of the participant or parent/guardian.
Remember, you’re not off the hook just because volunteers signed a waiver. Make sure your organization is properly insured, and that you have put measures in place to help ensure the physical and emotional safety of your volunteers.