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Volunteering and Communication

Studies from Multiple Contexts

Edited By Michael W. Kramer, Loril M. Gossett and Laurie K. Lewis

This book won the 2014 Applied Communication Division Award for Outstanding Edited Book

There is a growing interest in studying nonprofit organizations and volunteers as an alternative to studying employees in for-profit businesses and government agencies. This is driven in part by the recognition that volunteers make important contributions to society and the economy. This book is the first edited volume written primarily by communication scholars to focus on volunteers. It explores the experience of being a volunteer and managing volunteers through a focus on empirical examination of communication in volunteering. The contributors explore volunteers broadly and are divided into five sections which cover becoming a volunteer; learning about self as a volunteer; dark sides of volunteering; organizationally supported volunteering; and voice and dissent. The final chapter suggests areas of future research and application of the book.
An important focus of the book is its data-based, empirical studies. Although each chapter includes applications, those recommendations are based on systematic studies of volunteers rather than primarily on anecdotal evidence or previous literature. Furthermore, each chapter includes a brief field experience narrative written by a volunteer, as well as addressing a broader conceptual or theoretical issue of organizational studies. In this way the book provides more than just case studies of volunteers, but also addresses general organizational issues.


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We began working on this edited volume to fill a void in the scholarship. We noticed an increasing interest by communication scholars in nonprofit organizations. For example, a 2010 preconference at the National Communi- cation Association Convention in San Francisco on nonprofit organizations attracted over 50 scholars. Occasional articles appeared on the topic in our major journals. Much of the scholarship considered important topics such as fundraising, networking with other nonprofits, and issues of organizational structure. As important as these issues are, we felt that too often the actual experiences of the volunteers were overlooked. This volume is designed to focus attention on the volunteers themselves. When we sent out the call for chapter proposals, we worried whether we would receive enough solid proposals to fill the book. Two weeks before the deadline, we had barely enough proposals to fill the book and that was with- out considering the content of the proposals. We were overwhelmed when we received over 60 proposals. We then faced the problem of competitively selecting the 18 studies that would be included in the book. To the degree possible, given that we were familiar with the scholarship of some of the submitters, we conducted a blind review and then selected the ones that seemed the strongest. We are confident (and disappointed) that we turned away many good proposals, certainly enough for a second or third volume. We even informally proposed a volume on international volunteering at one point, but the idea was put on hold....

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