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Volunteering and Communication

Studies from Multiple Contexts

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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Ch 19: Challenging Nonprofit Praxis: Organizational Volunteers and the Expression of Dissent


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Chapter 19


Kirstie McAllum IESE Business School, Barcelona, Spain

Volunteers have become an essential component of the human services workforce. Beginning in the early 1980s, many governments in western industrial nations cut funding for, and reduced direct provision of, health, education, and other welfare services. To ensure continuity in service provision, many organizations within the nonprofit sector felt impelled to step in to fill the gap. Greater client need for services combined with lower government spending and more competition among nonprofits for funding increased organizational reliance on volunteers (Warburten & Oppenheimer, 2000). In many cases, volunteers were no longer considered as well-meaning amateurs, but as an indispensible workforce that enabled organizations to achieve their core mission (Alexander, 1999).

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