Liability Releases

September 16, 2011

I am posting sections of chapter six of my book, A Day of Hope: Leading Volunteers to Make a Difference in Your Community. I wrote the book to teach people who lead volunteers to do good work in your community.

This is section 10 and is a chance for you, my blog readers, to enjoy a section of the book for free. 


Part of doing A Day of Hope is taking care of the legal stuff.  When you have your volunteers going out to deliver food, helping at car washes, sorting food at your location, and driving all over town for the Charity Food Bag Drop, they are going to need to sign liability releases.  Liability releases will protect you, your family, your program, and the organizations you partner with.

Since A Day of Hope is part of California State University, Stanislaus, we went through their risk management department to get a liability release.  If you partner with another organization, see if they already have something that they use on a regular basis.  If they don’t, I believe you can pick up liability releases at office supply stores in your community.  

Sometimes a liability release will also have a consent to photograph clause included in it.  This gives you permission to use volunteers’ photographs in your marketing materials, websites, brochures, post on Facebook, etc.  It’s a great thing to be able to use real life pictures of your volunteers who are doing the great work!  A sample of our liability release can be found in the appendix.

In addition to collecting liability releases for most of your events, the day you deliver the food is the most important time to collect releases.  On delivery day, I usually have a volunteer who’s only responsibility is to make sure liability releases are completed and signed.  She is stationed in the front office of the church where we send our volunteers when they arrive.  She makes a copy of the volunteers’ driver’s license and car insurance.  Once the volunteers sign the release and make a copy of their driver’s license and car insurance, they bring them to me to exchange for a map of five families to deliver food too.

We keep the liability releases for three years in case of lawsuits or anything else that comes up after the event is over.  Liability releases might seem like a hindrance to the work you do or something that will slow you down and not allow you to feed as many people.  But it’s a “necessary evil” you’ll have to endure in order to keep yourself and your program protected.

Question: What are your thoughts and opinions about liability releases?

Christopher L. Scott

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Christopher Scott is Small Groups Pastor at Rocky Hilly Community Church in Exeter, CA. He has more than ten years of experience leading volunteers, running nonprofit programs, and teaching the Bible in small group settings. He holds a bachelor's degree from Fresno Pacific University and master's degree from Dallas Theological Seminary.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I also may have received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."