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Case Studies of Nonprofit Organizations and Volunteers

Edited By Jennifer Mize Smith and Michael W. Kramer

Given the increasing presence of nonprofit organizations and their impact upon American society, colleges and universities are recognizing the need to offer courses and programs to train current and future employees, volunteers, and supporters of the nonprofit sector.
This volume, featuring empirically-based case studies, provides an opportunity to analyze communication and other organizational issues in nonprofit, volunteer, and philanthropic contexts. Each case is designed to help readers critically think about the particular nonprofit context, the organizational issues presented, the ways in which those issues could be addressed, whose interests are served, and potential consequences for the organization and its various stakeholders.
This collection offers a unique glimpse into everyday issues and challenges related to working in and with nonprofit organizations, making it a valuable resource for undergraduate and graduate courses in nonprofit management, nonprofit communication, voluntarism, philanthropic studies, and social entrepreneurship. Each case also addresses a broader conceptual or theoretical framework of organizational studies, making it appropriate in other organizational communication courses as well.

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Introduction: An Introduction to Nonprofit Organizations and Volunteers (Jennifer Mize Smith and Michael W. Kramer)

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Introduction An Introduction to Nonprofit Organizations and Volunteers jennifer mize smith Western Kentucky University michael w. kramer University of Oklahoma A couple serves meals at the local soup kitchen sponsored by their church. A father joins the Parent Teacher Association. A mother coaches her son’s soccer team as part of the local parks and recreation league. An employee participates in a “give back to the community day” at his workplace by planting trees. Every day across America and around the world, numerous individuals contribute to and benefit from the important work of nonprofit organizations (NPOs). Nonprofit organizations seek to fill the gap in needs not met by either the private or governmental sectors of society. Consequently, NPOs offer an array of goods and services—from providing basic necessities such as food, clothing, shelter, and healthcare, to enhancing education, recreation, culture, aesthetics, and the arts. By and large, nonprofit organizations improve the quality of life in our communities. The United States has long enjoyed a thriving nonprofit sector. The American Revolution ushered in not only a new republic, but also a new face of philanthropy. With the separation of church and state, the need for new sources of social support sparked a proliferation of voluntary associations and charitable organizations (Gross, 2003). The vast and varied work of nonprofit organizations makes it difficult to con- struct a universal definition of NPOs. However, most would agree with Salamon and Anheier (1992) that nonprofit organizations typically share five key characteristics: (1) formal—some degree...

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