The IJOVA Volume XXIV, Number 4


In This Issue: “It Takes an Entire Village: Volunteerism and Community Development” R. Dale Safrit, Ed.D. ... link to pdf


“If I can see further, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants,” R. Dale Safrit, Ed.D. ... link to pdf


Placing Volunteers at the Center of Community Development
M.A. Brennan, Ph.D.
It is the goal of this article to take back the ownership of community development efforts and place them where they belong; squarely on the shoulders of active local volunteers. It is essential that program and policy makers understand the central role that volunteers play in the community development process. Volunteers are at the core of effective community development and are routinely the catalysts behind successful efforts. Through their efforts, volunteers shape channels of communication, and more importantly, facilitate interaction, that cuts across class and other divides, serving to connect local citizens. This effort results in the emergence of community. It is therefore essential that volunteers be better utilized, trained, rewarded, and more closely linked to broad- based community development efforts. ... link to pdf
Key Words: volunteers, community development, community agency

The Roles Volunteers Can Fill in Community-wide Efforts
Lynne M. Borden, Ph.D., & Daniel Perkins, Ph.D.
Community-based organizations are often asked to meet the complex needs of their communities by joining with other organizations to address these issues at various levels of engagement. As Gray (1989) has noted, this is often a “process through which parties who see different aspects of a problem [issue] can constructively explore their differences and search for solutions that go beyond their own limited vision of what is possible” (p. 5). The coming together to address complex community problems often requires a great deal of time and commitment on behalf of each organization. Volunteers can be an important link between the home organization and these community-based initiatives. This article examines the roles volunteers can play at different levels of community-based efforts, the responsibilities of volunteers in diverse roles, and the extent to which volunteers can represent the organization at each level. The article concludes with the discussion of the implications for organizations that wish to engage volunteers in communitywide efforts. ... link to pdf
Key Words: collaboration, partnership, committee roles, capacity building


Volunteerism and Holistic Community Development: The Main Street Paradigm
Bill Woodrum
The field of community and economic development in the not-for-profit sector has exploded in the past 40 years. During this time a great deal of emphasis has been given to the end effect these various organizations have had upon our community. From lending programs, to home building and entrepreneurial incubators there is a great depth of knowledge concerning the products that have come from various development efforts. Little attention has been paid during that time, however, to the social capital that builds these organizations and allows them to do their work. Inside of that limited field of study, even less attention has been paid to proper utilization and management of volunteers. This lack of focus on volunteerism’s role in community and economic development has limited the efficacy of professionals in the field. A notable exception has been the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Main Street program that preaches, and practices, holistic community development. ... link to pdf
Key Words: volunteers, community development, economic development, revitalization, organizational development


African-American Participation in Mainstream Greater Richmond Voluntary Organizations: A Report From The Field
Nelson Wikstrom, Ph.D.
This article explores the involvement of African-American citizens in ten prominent third sector organizations in the greater Richmond, Virginia area. The author concludes with several broad generalizations: (1) African-American involvement in these organizations is generally less than their proportionate share of the citizens in the area; (2) most organizations have adopted a policy, either formal or informal, seeking to enhance African-American involvement in their organization; (3) organizations have generally made use of mass media, mailing lists, churches, and personal referrals to increase African-American involvement in their organization; (4) most organizations reported that African-American involvement has increased in their organization over the past decade; (5) most significantly, the example of African-Americans on staff serves to enhance African-American volunteerism in these organizations; and, (6) finally, African-American involvement in these organizations is hindered by their often low visibility in the African-American community, due to economic constraints felt by many African-Americans which serve to restrain volunteer efforts, and the perception of many African-Americans that members of their ethnic group do not participate in the decision making of these organizations. ... link to pdf
Key Words: African-Americans, volunteers, voluntary associations, community organizations

Assessing Impacts on Volunteers who Participate in Collaborative Efforts to Manage Environmental Disputes
Loretta Singletary, Marilyn Smith & George C. Hill
This study identifies several criteria to use in assessing impacts on volunteers who participate in collaborative efforts to manage environmental disputes. Study participants were volunteers who worked together over a two-year period to manage an environmental dispute involving water. Major findings are as follows: the collaborative effort raised general awareness of the dispute and increased knowledge about issues underlying the dispute. Volunteers heard diverse viewpoints, learned about technical aspects of the problem, interacted and networked with diverse parties involved, and shared their views. In addition, volunteers improved communication and relationship building skills, and learned how to manage a complex environmental dispute collaboratively. Results from this study may help establish guidelines for future impact assessments. Results indicate additionally that volunteers who participate in a collaborative effort may benefit potentially from education in many of the skills and concepts identified in this study. ... link to pdf
Key Words: volunteer, impact, evaluation, environment, mediation, dispute management

Where a Bar of Soap Can Make a Difference: Family Planning Volunteers in Uganda Express Their Needs
Annette Flaherty & Walter Kipp
The purpose of this study was to assess the experiences and daily challenges of family planning volunteers in Uganda. Focus group discussions were conducted with active volunteers and former volunteers. Four study sites were selected from 24 program sites. Volunteers rated lack of remuneration and rewards as a major factor for a low working morale. Lack of recognition by the family planning program undermined their credibility in the community. In-spite of these frustrations most volunteers expressed their willingness to continue with their work. The Kabarole family planning program needs to seriously address the deficiencies in supporting their volunteers. As the volunteers have made very modest requests, an innovative incentive system could be quickly put in place without major increase in program spending. ... link to pdf
Key Words: family planning, volunteers, Uganda

Volunteerism and Community Development: A Comparison of Factors Shaping Volunteer Behavior in Irish and American Communities
Mark A. Brennan
Individual volunteer efforts and voluntary organizations serve to meet a wide variety of community needs, and significantly contribute to local quality of life. This is particularly true in the rural communities of Ireland and Pennsylvania. This international comparative study was designed to assess factors shaping volunteerism in both locations. A mixed methods framework was used that included extensive key informant interviews and household survey data. Important differences were noted in the communities studied. In Ireland, sociodemographic characteristics and volunteer motivations largely shaped volunteerism. In America, social interaction variables alone shaped volunteer decisions. In both locations, the social interaction variables were the strongest predictor of voluntary behavior. From these findings, implications for future research and policy are presented. ... link to pdf
Key Words: volunteerism, community development, Ireland

Community Volunteers: The Front Line of Disaster Response
M.A. Brennan, Rosemary V. Barnett, & Courtney G. Flint
The dramatic and tragic events of Hurricane Katrina have highlighted the need for coordinated, community-based volunteer efforts to prepare for, and respond to, natural and other disasters. The recent hurricanes in the Gulf States underscore the problems and shortcomings associated with coordinating outside logistics and show a clear need for local volunteers to serve as the first line of response to such catastrophes. Such disasters are likely to occur again. When disasters do occur, citizen groups and coordinated local volunteers will again be the first responders, and will act to lessen impacts. This article identifies and suggests methods for linking local organizations, recruiting volunteers, and implementing coordinated action plans prior to, and after, the impact of natural disasters. ... link to pdf
Key Words: community, volunteers, disaster response, natural disasters

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