CHASE talk: Staff dishonesty in the Voluntary sector

On 17th February Martin Gill gave a talk to a CHASE audience. He was speaking about staff dishonesty. Building on work we have conducted with staff dismissed and imprisoned for dishonesty, Martin outlined the various motives, techniques and approaches used by those who defraud their employer. However, it was noted that there are specific difficulties that face organisations that use volunteers, and of course in the Third Sector this is not uncommon.

Volunteers don’t get paid, but it has long been recognised that they need to be organised and managed with great care and efficiency. There are lots of problems that can result from not doing this well. For example, volunteers who give up their time for free and are not rewarded can become disillusioned and this may trigger a negative response towards the organisation. It is quite another step to say this leads to theft but disquiet is a breeding ground for dishonesty. In another way though volunteers often have to be trusted with handling cash, their roles are often autonomous and therein rests a danger, made all the more acute where volunteers are not properly managed and engaged. Martin has made the point that although volunteers give up their time without expectation of financial payment it is a mistake not to understand they need their rewards in other ways, for example in being recognised and engaged in being able to make a meaningful contribution. It is another case where good management can act as a good crime prevention tool and bad management can facilitate crime.

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