COVID-19 Update

VO is recruiting and deploying volunteers to respond to the volunteer needs specific to COVID-19 in Ottawa, Prescott-Russell, Lanark County and Renfrew County while ensuring proper screening and training protocals to safeguard the health of those volunteering and those they are assisting. Please see the intake portals for volunteers, for members, and for other agencies on our hompage. VO’s COVID 19 volunteer deployment program is supported by the Government of Canada’s Emergency Community Support Fund and the Ottawa Community Foundation.

VOices Blog Members Home Events English | Français Shopping Cart
Skip to main content

Blog > Managing Data about your Volunteers: Are you protecting their privacy?

Managing Data about your Volunteers: Are you protecting their privacy?

posted on Sep 7, 2018

by Maria Lahiffe

You need to collect information about your volunteers, during recruitment and also during their time with you. This information needs to be protected.

Types of Personal Information

In a volunteer management context, you can expect to collect a lot of personal information from a lot of different sources. Below are some examples. [1] All of the information listed below is considered “personal information” by law, and is therefore governed by law [2] (see the next section).


These give you information such as name, address, contact details, education, skills, previous work experience

Application forms

Name, address, contact details, education, previous work experience, gender, date of birth, emergency contact information

Attendance information

Days/hours worked, training & orientation completed, positions held

Support, supervision and evaluation

Performance evaluations, awards, letters of reference, disciplinary documentation

Canadian Privacy Legislation

This post should not take the place of legal advice. If you are unsure of how any legislation applies, then please consult a qualified lawyer.

Protecting people’s personal information isn’t just a good idea – it’s the law. There are a number of laws governing the ways personal information is handled and protected.


Whose law it is

How it could affect your operations

Privacy Act

Government of Canada

  • if your work is funded by the Federal government
  • if your work is governed by federal laws or statutes
  • if you share information with federal government agencies


Government of Ontario

  • if your work is funded by the Ontario provincial government
  • if your work is governed by Ontario provincial laws or statutes
  • if you share information with Ontario provincial government agencies


Government of Ontario – governs municipalities

  • if your work is funded by a municipal government in Ontario
  • if your work is governed by municipal laws or statutes in Ontario
  • if you share information with any municipal government agencies in Ontario


Government of Canada

  • affects all organizations operating in Canada

*Freedom of Inforamtion and Protection of Privacy Act
**Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act
***Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act

Privacy laws require organizations to develop privacy policies which outline how they collect, use, and share personal information. Most privacy laws explicitly state that these policies must be available to the public. [1]

What do I do now?

Check your organization’s privacy policy

What do you already have in writing about privacy? When was it last updated? Policies should generally be reviewed every 2-3 years.

Here is a good checklist to help you evaluate your privacy policy, and decide if it needs to be revised.

Take an inventory

Consider the following: [1]

  • who do you collect information about?
  • what information do you collect? Consider the full volunteer cycle.
  • How do you collect information?
  • How do you store personal information? How is personal information kept secure?
  • How is the information used?
  • Who has access to personal information?
  • When is information disposed of?

Protect information

We absolutely must gather information about our volunteers, to ensure that our decision-making processes are fair and transparent. However, given that we collect and store personal information, we must have robust policies and procedures in place to protect that information.

Want to learn more? Come to an upcoming workshop.

Click here for more information, and to register.

Volunteer Ottawa offers a comprehensive suite of courses related to volunteer management. Click here for more information, and to register. Subscribe to our Event RSS Feed to be among the first to know when a new workshop is added to the schedule.

Like what you've read? Subscribe to our RSS feed so you never miss a post! We have a general RSS Feed for all VOices blog posts, as well as a Volunteer Management RSS Feed, which will focus on topics related to volunteer management.

Related Blog Posts:

[1] Volunteer Canada, "The Screening Handbook," 2012. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 14 September 2017]. [2] "Summary of Privacy Laws in Canada," Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, January 2018. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 22 August 2018].
new comment comment