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The extent and nature of informal volunteering in professional associations

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Volunteers who perform intermittent, ad-hoc or autonomous activities have received much less scholarly attention when compared with those individuals whom organisations formally identify as their volunteer corps. Yet, they may possibly far outnumber formal volunteers and represent the 'glue' holding together many elements of civic life. The study on which this article is based examined informal volunteering in professional and occupational societies to understand the consequences for volunteer retention. Using volunteering data from 7,408 members of international associations based in the United States, we found the following: associations failed to identify as 'volunteers' most of the members who reported that they performed labour for their professional society, and these volunteers were less engaged and less satisfied than those formally recognised for their volunteer labour. In addition to suggestions for improving measurement instruments, we conclude that accurate record-keeping and volunteer management systems might reap tremendous benefits for many organisations with respect to recruitment, involvement, satisfaction and retention of their volunteers.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Indiana University, USA [email protected] edu 2: University of North Carolina at Wilmington, USA

Publication date: November 2014

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  • Voluntary Sector Review publishes high-quality, peer-reviewed, accessible papers on third sector research, policy and practice. It is an invaluable cutting-edge resource for all those researching or working in the fast-growing voluntary, community and wider third sectors.

    The journal covers the full range of issues relevant to voluntary sector studies, including: definitional and theoretical debates; management and organisational development; financial and human resources; philanthropy; volunteering and employment; regulation and charity law; service delivery; civic engagement; industry and sub-sector dimensions; relations with other sectors; social enterprise; evaluation and impact. Voluntary Sector Review covers voluntary sector studies from a variety of disciplines, including sociology, social policy, politics, psychology, economics, business studies, social anthropology, philosophy and ethics. The journal includes work from the UK and Europe, and beyond, where cross-national comparisons are illuminating. With dedicated expert policy and practice sections, Voluntary Sector Review also provides an essential forum for the exchange of ideas and new thinking.

    Rigorous and stimulating, Voluntary Sector Review is an indispensable tool for everyone who values empirically-grounded, theoretically-informed and policy-relevant reviews of the future direction of the voluntary sector.

    Editors: Nick Acheson (Trinity College, University of Dublin, Ireland), Bernard Harris (University of Strathclyde, UK), Rob Macmillan, (University of Birmingham, UK)

    The journal is published in association with the Voluntary Sector Studies Network (VSSN) and a print copy of the journal is a membership benefit.

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