June 2nd, 2021 | Sterling

Sport & Non-Profit: Real-World Benefits of Background Screening Technology for Teams of All Types & Sizes

The push to embrace technology sped up significantly in 2020, when the global pandemic turned ‘”nice to have”‘ into “‘must have.”‘ A survey by MIT Technology Review Insights found that 80% of North American respondents accelerated technology adoption last year. One arena that is ripe for a makeover is manual background screening, a process that sport associations and non-profits rely on to make smart, safe decisions on new hires and volunteers.

During a recent roundtable, Sterling Backcheck invited experts to share their insights on the complexities of managing screening and certifications and how integrating background screening with other sport and non-profit technologies creates a more seamless process that helps ensure safe sports for all.

Integrating Background Screening in Your HR Technology Stack

Kicking off the roundtable discussion, Iain Murray, Vertical Leader at Sterling Backcheck, asked our expert panelists to share their thoughts on a common question for that non-profits, particularly those associated with sport: How much paperwork is involved with screening and certifications?  After all, a lot has changed in the past decades. In the pre-digital transformation “glory days,” paper forms and spreadsheets were commonplace. ID verification was handled by notaries public. But technology is a great enabler.

The first to weigh in was Greg Frechette, Technology Consultant at Alpine Canada and active ski coach since 1990. While the amount of paperwork needed — as an organization and as a coach — can be burdensome, Greg noted that it is crucial to the goal of safe sport for all. For example, Alpine Canada has a five-step licensing process for coaches, including a background check.

With approximately 6,000 active coaches, getting the appropriate paperwork submitted by individual coaches, ensuring that licensing and other Safe Sport documentation was collected, and importing Excel spreadsheets weekly or bi-weekly was a time-consuming process. Greg focused on implementing a technology-based solution that could streamline the cumbersome manual processes for everyone involved.

Working with Interpodia, Alpine Canada now uses a one-stop solution that enables waiver collection, background checks facilitated by a special agreement with Sterling Backcheck, and more — within the membership registration or renewal process. It’s a simple process that automatically connects background check results into the new system, allowing clear visibility when the background check has been completed.

What are the standards for determining the need for background screening?

Regardless of mission, background checks represent a crucial step in protecting organizations, employees, volunteers, and most importantly, the youth and other vulnerable populations that are being served. The Coaching Association of Canada (CAC) has identified three levels of risk, based on roles within an organization:

Level 1: Low Risk

— According to the benchmarks set by the CAC, individuals are considered low risk if they “… are not in a supervisory role, not directing others, not involved with financial/cash management, and/or do not have access to minors or people with a disability.” These could include non-volunteer parents, youth volunteers, and occasional volunteers.

Level 2: Medium Risk

— Medium risk positions include those that may have “… a supervisory role, may direct others, may be involved with financial/cash management, and/or who may have limited access to minors or people with a disability.” Among the positions could be assistant coaches, volunteer head coaches, and directors.

Level 3: High Risk

— Positions that represent the greatest risk are those assignments that “… occupy positions of trust and/or authority, have a supervisory role, direct others, are involved with financial/cash management and have access to minors or people with a disability.” These could include team managers, travel team coaches, and paid head coaches.

What does the future of tech-enabled volunteer management hold?

A streamlined process is just the beginning. According to Sterling Backcheck’s own metrics, much of the push for sharing background checks comes from volunteers or coaches, 10-20% of whom have expressed interest in sharing results with multiple organizations.

During the roundtable, Iain asked Phil Mowatt, Chief Executive Officer of Interpodia, to share his thoughts on portability of background checks. In his work, Phil sees a broad spectrum of different sporting organizations. He noted that organizations that use technology and build out well-established processes lean toward a membership or licensing model, with a goal of enabling self-management for coaches, officials, or volunteers. “Sport administration tends to be by virtue quite a fragmented process,” said Phil.

Certainly, no single technology system can do it all.  Enabling background checks via an API integration makes it easier to bake the screening process into overall registration,  reducing barriers for registrants. Technology also makes it easier for organizations of all types and sizes to implement a consistent process that fits their needs and their budgets.

In the future, said Phil, organizations may pull together to support a centralized licensing body where criminal records checks, and various other certifications required to meet Safe Sport standards are maintained. Small or large, few non-profit organizations have sufficient resources to manage such a significant undertaking. Nor do they want to.

The primary focus of sport organizations needs to stay on performing athletes, whether they’re children participating in competitive leagues or Olympic hopefuls in training. Likewise, non-profits need to concentrate on supporting their constituents and networking with donors to meet funding needs, not shuffling and storing mountains of paperwork.

What’s next?

Sterling Backcheck is always at the forefront of industry conversations. Connect with us to learn how we can help you get started.

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.