Publication Date

2001

Abstract

Volunteering has always been an important part of American society. In his 1835 book, Democracy in America, de Tocqueville recognized volunteerism as a fundamental characteristic of life in America. Two centuries later, it can still be argued that this is true. According to the Independent Sector, in 1998, 55.5 percent of the U.S. population volunteered, and the number seems to be rising. Individuals volunteered over 19.9 billion hours valued at $225,900,000 (http://www.indepsec.org). Yet the face of volunteerism constantly changes. Long gone are the days when much of the volunteer force was made up of stay-at-home moms volunteering at their local PTA and other organizations. The profile of today's volunteer is much different, and voluntary agencies are scrambling to meet these changing needs. Interestingly enough, despite their apparent value and the impact volunteers have on our society, managers with MBAs and MPAs rarely have classes in volunteer management (Wish & Mirabella, 1997) and actual managers of volunteers rarely have any training in the field (Wilson, 1976). Instead, managers often take a trial-and-error approach to managing volunteers, resulting in frustration, lost service delivery, and lack of effective community-building. Since public attitudes acknowledge that nonprofit organizations generally play a major role in their communities (http://www.indepsec.org), non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have a wonderful opportunity to increase support through volunteer efforts. This paper seeks to demonstrate effective strategies for increased volunteer satisfaction in order for voluntary organizations to increase their capacity and, as a result, increase their effectiveness within communities.

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