Publication Date

2010

Degree Name

MA in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management

First Advisor

Karen Blanchard

Abstract

Volunteering has always been an important part of our life. Times have changed and so has the face of volunteering. However, the core meaning of volunteering remains the same, and lies in the word itself: doing something without pay willingly, to help vulnerable people or to serve the community.

Attitudes toward volunteering in developed countries have changed recently. Volunteering has become something that can be done for tax-deduction purposes, career and skills development, or enriching one’s resume (Mendelson, 2008). However, we should not forget that the values of and reasons for volunteering are still the same.

My interest in volunteering came from personal perspective. I have a long history of volunteering, and my experiences influenced my attitude towards the volunteering process. My first volunteer experience---with the Red Cross’s Karelia branch, between 2000 and 2004---was very successful. However, when I moved to Moscow in 2006, I faced a lot of difficulties while looking for another place to volunteer. All my attempts to join a non-profit were disappointing, and I started to think that it would be easier to volunteer on my own, rather than become a member of some organization.

As a result of these experiences, I decided to devote my paper to volunteers and their feelings, and to the issues they face during the volunteering process. The purpose of this paper is to attract the attention of non-profit organizations to the problems faced by volunteers. I also hope to remind them to value their volunteers and treat them as their biggest asset.

I am interested in identifying volunteers’ unsuccessful experiences, how these experiences influenced the volunteers, and what could be done to avoid them. My own unsuccessful experiences---ready to offer help but feeling unneeded---resulted in difficult feelings, and caused me to wonder if other volunteers face the same difficulties. How often do they confront these difficulties? What do they feel? Will they ever try to volunteer again? What was so special about the organization to make them stay? What other problems in Russian society prevent volunteers from helping? Do volunteers need to be involved in some organization, or should they offer help by themselves to avoid disappointment?

When I started this paper, my initial thought was that all the problems lay in poor volunteer management and the inefficient work of volunteer leaders, but further data analysis showed this was only a part of the problem. This capstone will present these further conclusions and offer a summary of volunteer opinions, which can be useful for the organizations’ reference.

Disciplines

Human Resources Management | Organizational Behavior and Theory

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