Image of Volunteering

The materials in this section portray volunteering to the public in a range of ways -- from negative stereotypes to overly-positive hype.

Addressing Volunteerism Issues in the Blogosphere, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2011
Altruistic People Have More Sex, Drake Bayer, New York Magazine (online), 2016
Best Way to Donate? Do Your Research, Holden Karnofsky, 2008
Interview in which the founder of GiveWell.net questions volunteering -- and the responses from the public
Beyond Common Sense: Volunteer Management as a Specialty, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2003
Breaking through the Glass Ceiling for Volunteers, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2013
Celebrate Collective Accomplishments, Not Volunteered Time, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2011
Clarifying Expectations on Both Sides, Eileen Hammond, 64-66, Directory of Social Change, 2008
Clients Are a Talent Pool, Too, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2016
The Confusing Talk about "Service", Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2008
The Correlation between Time Donors and Money Donors, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2010
The Difference Between Needing and Wanting Volunteers, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2009
Differentiating between Volunteering and Working for Pay, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2010
DIVERSITY: Different Perspectives on the Same Topic, Sue Vineyard, Megatrends & Volunteerism, pp. 121-123, Heritage Arts Publishing, 1993
Don't Call Me a 'Senior'!, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2002
Economic Development, Internet Technology, and Volunteers, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2004
Encouraging Entrepreneurial Volunteering, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2006
End-of-Year Reports Can Illuminate Volunteer Achievements, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2012
Enough Formal Banquets! Let's Transform Recognition Events, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2000
Exercise Your Volunteering Funny Bone, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2011
Fighting against Ignorance: Picking up My Sword Yet Again, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2015
Global Connections - International Volunteerism, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 1997
Good Intentions Going Nowhere -- Again, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2010
Government, Politicians, and the Use of the Word "Volunteer", Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2004
Helper Triage: Volunteer Management in Emergencies, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2007
The Holiday Season: Going Beyond "Feel-Good" Volunteering, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 1997
If Google Can’t Find the People Who Lead Volunteers, No One Can, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2015
I'll Never Understand Why Executives Still Don't Understand, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2011
The Implications of History, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2006
Inform, and Wow, Everyone about Volunteers, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2016
Interns: The "Acceptable" Volunteers?, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2004
Is Volunteering the Emperor's New Clothes?, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2012
The Just-a-Volunteer Syndrome, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 1999
Keeping an Eye on Things in the Year Ahead, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2005
The Limitations of Seeing Volunteers Only as Unpaid Staff, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2016
The Limits of the "V" Word, Sarah Jane Rehnborg, Energize Hot Topic, 1998
Making Ongoing Volunteering Valued and Visible, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2009
Marketing Savvy - Our Field's Blind Spot, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2003
A Medal for Volunteer Service - How to Measure Success?, Rob Jackson, Energize Hot Topic, 2002
Media Blitz vs. Media Noise: What Are We Trying to Accomplish?, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2009
Microvolunteering Is Volunteering, Jayne Cravens, 2011

Jayne's response to the Sparked Blog post of Ben Rigby on Microvolunteering Is Not Volunteering

The Missing Link: Where are Volunteers at the National Level?, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2002
Mixed Messages from Government: Lessons from Minnesota, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2002
The More We're Different, the More We're the Same, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2007
Moving on from 2001, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2002
National Volunteer Week: Does Anyone Care?, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2001
The Need for Diversity – a ‘Whole-of-Volunteering’ Approach, Joy Noble, Louise Rogers, and Andy Fryar, Volunteering SA Inc, 2003
Nonprofits: Don’t Treat Volunteers and Donors Like Crayons, Adam Clevenger, Bloomerang Blog, 2016
Once in a Millennium Opportunity, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 1999
Online Spying Can Improve Your Volunteer Management Skills, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2006
The Perfect Volunteer Storm, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2012
Philanthropy, Civic Engagement, and the Lessons of Volunteering, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 1999
Political Campaigns: Epicenter of Volunteering, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2016
The Presidents' Summit One Year Later, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 1998
A Proposal for Five Additional Goals after the Summit, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 1997
A Proposal for IYV2001: The Look Back to Look Ahead Project, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2000
Reaching Out to International Visitors, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 1998
Recruitment Maxims, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2005
Reimagining Service: Is Corporate HR Management What We See?, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2010
Research on Volunteerism...What Needs to Be Done, Susan J. Ellis, From Journal of Voluntary Action Research, Volume 14, Number 2-3, April-September 1985, pages 11-14. Originally presented at the Symposium at the 1984 AVAS Conference
See Superheroes for What They Really Are!, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2015
The Self-Directed Volunteer, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2010
Shaping Public Opinion: Volunteering, Government, and News Reports, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2004
Should We Ask Volunteers to Give Money on Top of Time?, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2004
Should We Cap the Number of Hours a Volunteer May Serve Each Week?, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2013
The Silver Lining of Disaster, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2005
So, What Do You Do?, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2008
The Spice of Life, Justin Davis Smith, Blog, 2015

Commentary on time banking and the "Spice" program in the UK.

Still Tilting at Windmills, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2005
Stop Volunteers from Being Their Own Worst Enemies, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2013
The Treasure Trove of Knowledge Philanthropists, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2013
Unskilled vs. Differently Skilled: Maximize Volunteer Differences, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2000
The Volunteer Generation Gap, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2000
Volunteering 101, Sarah Erdreich, 2006
Volunteering Is Bigger than the Nonprofit Sector, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2008
Volunteering Is Inherently Political, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2012
Volunteering We See but Don't Recognize, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2007
Volunteering: Noble Gesture or the Logic of Necessity?
detailed book review of Volunteers and Volunteering, highlighting key issues in Australia and elsewhere
A Volunteerism Perspective on the Days after the 11th of September, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2001
Volunteers as the "Third Branch" of an Organization, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 1997
Volunteers Just Want to Have Fun, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2005
War and Volunteers: History Repeats Itself, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2003
Warning! We're about to Waste an Opportunity!, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2000
Watching, Helping and Learning from China, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2004
What Leaders of Volunteers Can DO to Gain Executive Attention, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2011
What Volunteer Recruiters Can Learn from #GivingTuesday, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2016
What We See, or Don't: Volunteers in Television, Films, and Novels, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2003

Pages

Join In (UK)'s innovative research into "the hidden value of sport volunteers, going beyond cost to measure the true value they create – through participation, wellbeing, trust and community."  The report has been published on Issu.com. 

, 2014, pp. 32
This document from Volunteering England explores what "valuing volunteer management" really means and is designed to help organisations assess how they currently value volunteer management, why this is important, and what extra steps they could take., 2011, pp. 16

Energize, Inc. encourages all  efforts by organizations and communities to celebrate volunteers today by showcasing them as the current step in a continuum of volunteer action from the past and therefore the next step to future service. This is a great way to recognize volunteers and educate the public about their importance. This guide gives you great ideas for creating a volunteer history project of your own -- plus real-life examples from colleagues.

, 2014, pp. 13
Over a dozen practical, free manuals to support (international) inclusion projects for socially excluded young people, from SALTO-YOUTH (Support, Advanced Learning and Training Opportunities within the European YOUTH programme). , 2010
Allison Fine for the Case Foundation. Social Citizens BETA addresses the unique characteristics of Millennials, who have grown up in a digital era, and "are equipped with innovative tools and ideas for bringing about change. This is a paper intended to start a "larger conversation with these 'social citizens, to share new ideas and "challenge perceptions about their approaches to being engaged." , 2013, pp. 65

By Nora L. Silver, based on work done by The Volunteerism Project on volunteering by diverse ethnic/cultural groups. Seven focus groups provided the basis for the book:

  • A Chorus of Voices, African American focus group facilitated by Vicki Clark in Memphis, Tennessee
  • Self-Determination: Messages for Our Native Youth, two American Indian focus groups conducted by Kouslaa Kessler-Mata in Oakland and San Francisco, California
  • Uno Recibe lo que Uno Da: You Get What You Give, Central American focus group conducted in Spanish, facilitated by Coco Mendoza and translated by Gary Wheelock in San Francisco, California
  • Extending the Family, Chinese American focus group conducted by Mae Chao in San Francisco, California
  • Giving Generously, Japanese American focus group conducted by Mami Ishikawa in Berkeley, California
  • Three Continents, Four States, Ten Cities, Korean American focus group facilitated by Debbie Ng in Oakland, California
  • La Gran Familia, Mexican American focus group facilitated by Ramon del Castillo, with simultaneous translation by Patsy Roybal in Denver, Colorado
, 2011, pp. 131

By Natasha Menon, Amanda Moore and Michael Sherraden, published by Center for Social Development/Global Service Institute.

, 2002, pp. 15
by Renaissance London, report of a 3-year project at the largest archaeological archive in Europe designed to test volunteering as a form of social inclusion by recruiting volunteers from diverse backgrounds , 2010, pp. 18

By Joanna Machin of the  Institute for Volunteering Research (UK) for the Voluntary Action Media Unit to identify research and information which address issues related to the image of volunteering and volunteers by the public and the media -- specific reference made to the images held by different social groups. 

, 2005, pp. 47
AmeriCorps Alums Blog

Features AmeriCorps stories around the world and how people continue to make a difference after their years of service.

Do-it.org Blogs

Personal stories from volunteers in the UK about their volunteering experiences, with emphasis on young people.

Engaging Volunteers (blog)

Excellent blog written by members of the VolunteerMatch team and third-party experts in the volunteering and technology community. Great source for trends in the field.

Explore

Explore is a philanthropic community whose mission is to champion the selfless acts of others by documenting leaders around the world who have devoted their lives to extraordinary causes. Its growing library of more than 250 original films and 30,000 photographs from around the world features a wide range of topics and everything can be used free of charge for motivation and training.

Look to the Stars: Charitable and Philanthropic Celebrities

Searchable site on the philanthropic work of 3000+ celebrities -- what causes they support with volunteering and money.

nfpSynergy

This UK consulting and research firm provides free -- and well-written -- reports on many aspects of trends in nonprofit management, online charity outreach, and volunteering. You must register your e-mail address to download PDFs.

Sesame Street introduces the concept of "volunteer" with Elmo and guest Usher
Time Guider & Giver

Jody Weyers launched this blog to "connect people with their passion," posting frequent commentary and inspiration about volunteering for volunteers but also for leaders of volunteers.

The United States: A Nation of Volunteers

The United States Information Agency's (USIA) electronic journal of U.S. Society & Values of September 1998 has a range of articles about the role of volunteering in America, from 12 authors such as Bill Clinton, Harris Wofford, Betty Stallings, and Susan Ellis.

World Leisure Organization Commission on Volunteerism

A site about research on volunteering as a major form of leisure activity, the dissemination of the knowledge generated by such research, and the development of an expanding role of volunteerism as leisure and in leisure programs and services. Site also explains: An important assumption in this mandate, which springs from the leisure perspective, is that volunteering, among things, is primarily a creative, society-building activity. However, it loses this quality when it becomes merely a money-saving strategy imposed upon an altruistic citizenry by either the public or the private sector.

Linked with The Serious Leisure Perspective site.

Print and e-Books in Our Store

Book cover image

Revised in 2005, this book remains the only presentation of the full scope and depth of volunteer activity throughout three centuries of American history.

Exploring Volunteer Space cover

A philosophic-yet-practical exploration of the universe of volunteering, attempting to describe, define, and explain how and where volunteering occurs.

Book cover

Stand-alone documents each on a single volunteerism-related subject, all ready for the copier or printer—perfect for newsletters, training handouts, flyers and more.

Patrons, Presidents and Personalities
New

Unique and helpful guide to the challenge of working with celebrities who endorse or fundraise as volunteers for your organization – maximize the rewards, minimize the risks.

Rants and Raves Anthology

Best-selling authors in the volunteer field to share what's on their minds about "hot button" issues.

Ever wondered where volunteers find their inspiration, what makes someone a great leader?  Tonyehn Verkitus, the Senior VP of Nonprofit Engagement at GiveGab, interviews volunteers doing amazing things, leaders who inspire debate, and nonprofits finding creative solutions to problems big and small. "Snapshots" in 7 Questions take a small dip into the lives of people who do big things. New interview monthly. Free archive of all podcasts remains available.

If it's on Sesame Street, it has to appeal, right?

Bring the Media Blitz Home
From Susan J. Ellis, President, Energize, Inc.

Chances are, at least for anyone watching American television, that you told volunteers to be on the lookout for mentions of service on TV and elsewhere during the week of October 19th. Even though the media blitz was something of a bust, you can still make use of it as a conversation starter. Here are some ideas:

  • Run a contest for who saw the most mentions of the word "volunteer" and where.
  • Hold a brown-bag lunch to discuss what volunteers (and paid staff) thought about the storylines or public service announcements they saw. Did they feel the messages represented them? How or how not?
  • Talk about how volunteering for your organization might be incorporated into the storyline of a popular show. Which characters would make good volunteer additions to your team? If you like the ideas generated, write them up and send them to the show's producers, with a copy to the Entertainment Industry Foundation. You never know!
  • Again if some fun ideas surface, "act out" the scenarios at your next volunteer party or recognition event. Find pictures of the actors involved and make masks for the skit players to wear as they speak the lines of fantasy dialogue the characters would have in doing or talking about their volunteer work.
Sharing Our History of Volunteers
Submitted by

At Energize, we have a special interest in documenting the history of volunteers. Our president, Susan J. Ellis, co-authored the book: By the People: A History of Americans as Volunteers, New Century Edition. We encourage all organizations and collaborative efforts to celebrate  volunteers today by showcasing them as the current step in a continuum of volunteer action from the past and therefore the next step to future service. This is a great way to recognize volunteers and educate the public about their importance. [You can also read Susan's original "Hot Topic" introducing this idea and see what colleagues said in reply.] On this page, we share how others have celebrated the history of their volunteers, plus provide links to pages that can help you develop or share your projects.

Last Updated: December 7, 2016