“Despite the importance of volunteers, there are remarkably few articles about them in nonprofit journals, sessions at conferences, research colloquia, or workshops. Keynote after keynote fails to mention volunteers. Nonprofit staff have insisted on being seen as professionals to the degree where being un-paid is something we don’t really want to bring up.”

Jan Masaoka, CalNonprofits (full blog at Independent Sector)

I agree and am sharing this website as a place for conversation that might help spark more articles, workshops, and keynotes on volunteerism. My goal is to change the conversation about volunteerism from the current and limiting story to a new narrative that is as generative and powerful as the work volunteers do.

This site began as a class project while pursuing a PhD in Leadership. I eventually went on to write a dissertation about volunteerism. (If you are interested in going down that rabbit hole…Making the Invisible Visible: Capturing the Value of Volunteerism in Nonprofit Organizations.) The website is now evolving as a place to share that dissertation research, the content that didn’t make the cut, lessons learned from other disciplines, and ongoing observations about our field.

toy trucks and bucket in sandbox as a metaphor for playing with volunteerism
Sandbox by Marc Pascual from Pixabay

The Volunteer Commons is a sandbox of sorts: a place to play and experiment. It can be challenging to share ideas that aren’t fully formed or polished. Yet, I believe that deepening our practice of engaging the community as volunteers has to be a process of co-creation.  As such, I welcome your comments (even when they aren’t fully formed or polished yet).

Ready to dive in? Check out the application of developmental theories (All Quadrant Model and Action Logics) or the concept of the Commons to volunteerism.