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Patterns of Volunteer Activity in Professional Associations and Societies

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Abstract

Professional and occupational societies rely on volunteers for leadership, expertise, member recruitment, fundraising, legislative activity, and many other activities. Yet, volunteerism in the professions has received very little analytic attention. This study uses a large, international dataset produced by the American Society of Association Executives to examine patterns of volunteer activity in 23 professional associations and societies. A comparative analysis allows us to test widespread theories on the factors that predict volunteer activity in the particular context of professional life, where the motivations to volunteer may vary. Our findings suggest that some patterns of professional volunteer activity mirror what we can expect in a non-professional context (i.e., church or community volunteering), while other patterns are distinct. Our findings have particular relevance in understanding that a professional’s demographic characteristics and voluntary preferences are context-specific and must be accounted for in volunteer recruitment efforts.

Resume

Les sociétés professionnelles et de métier recourent aux volontaires pour ce qui a trait au leadership, à l’expertise, au recrutement des membres, à la collecte de fonds, à l’activité législative et à bien d’autres activités. Et pourtant le volontariat au sein des professions n’a suscité qu’un intérêt analytique très minime. Cette étude s’appuie sur un vaste ensemble de données internationales, constitué par l’American Society of Association Executives (Société américaine des dirigeants d’association) afin d’examiner les tendances de l’activité de volontariat au sein de 23 sociétés et associations professionnelles. Une analyse comparative nous permet de tester les théories les plus répandues sur les facteurs de prédiction de l’activité volontaire dans le contexte particulier de la vie professionnelle, où les motivations du volontariat peuvent varier. Nos conclusions indiquent que certaines tendances de l’activité de volontariat professionnel reflètent ce que nous pouvons anticiper dans un contexte non-professionnel (par ex., volontariat au sein d’une communauté ou d’une église) alors que d’autres tendances diffèrent.

Zusammenfassung

Professionelle und berufliche Gesellschaften sind für die Leitung, Expertise, Mitgliederanwerbung, Mittelbeschaffung, für legislative Aufgaben und in vielen weiteren Bereichen auf ehrenamtliche Mitarbeiter angewiesen. Doch wurde der ehrenamtlichen Tätigkeit in derBerufswelt bislang nur sehr wenig analytische Aufmerksamkeit geschenkt. Diese Studie bedient sich eines großen internationalen Datenbestands der American Society of Association Executives [amerikanische Gesellschaft für Führungskräfte von Verbänden], um die Muster ehrenamtlicher Tätigkeit in 23 professionellen Vereinigungen und Gesellschaften zu untersuchen. Eine vergleichende Analyse ermöglicht die Erprobung weit verbreiteter Theorien zu den Faktoren, welche ehrenamtliche Tätigkeiten im speziellen Kontext des Berufslebens vorhersagen, wo die Beweggründe für ehrenamtliche Tätigkeiten variieren. Unsere Ergebnisse lassen darauf schließen, dass einige Muster professioneller ehrenamtlicher Tätigkeit wiederspiegeln, was wir in einem nicht professionellen Kontext erwarten können (d. h. bei ehrenamtlichen Tätigkeiten in der Kirche oder Gemeinde), während sich andere Strukturen unterscheiden.

Resumen

Las sociedades profesionales y ocupacionales confían en voluntarios para las actividades de liderazgo, experiencia específica, reclutamiento de miembros, recaudación de fondos, actividades legislativas y muchas otras. Sin embargo, el voluntariado en las profesiones ha recibido muy poca atención analítica. Este estudio utiliza un amplio conjunto de datos internacionales producido por la American Society of Association Executives (Asociación Americana de Ejecutivos de Asociaciones) para examinar los patrones de la actividad de los voluntarios en 23 asociaciones y sociedades profesionales. Un análisis comparativo nos permite probar teorías ampliamente difundidas sobre los factores que predicen la actividad de los voluntarios en el contexto específico de la vida profesional, en la que las motivaciones para ser voluntario pueden variar. Nuestros hallazgos sugieren que algunos patrones de la actividad de los voluntarios profesionales reflejan lo que podemos esperar en un contexto no profesional (es decir, en el voluntariado eclesial o comunitario) mientras que otros patrones están bien diferenciados.

VOLU-D-11-00012R1

每一个专业性或职业性的社会团体,都有赖于多方面的志愿活动为其基础,例如领导管理、专业技能、团体成员招募、资金募集、立法活动等。然而,人们对职业人士的志愿活动却少有分析。本文运用美国协会经理人学会( ASAE ) 建立的大型国际数据集,对 23 个职业协会和学会的志愿活动进行了研究。通过比较分析,我们考察了若干现行主要理论在预测具有不同志愿动机的专业类志愿活动方面的有效性。结果表明,部分职业的志愿活动模式具有非职业背景下的普遍特征(例如教会或社区志愿活动),其它模式则拥有各自的特殊性。

VOLU-D-11-00012R1

専門的かつ職業的な団体は、リーダーシップ、専門的技術、メンバーの採用、資金調達、合法的な活動、その他の多くの活動においてボランティアに依存している。それにもかかわらず、職業におけるボランティア活動の分析は注目されてこなかった。本研究では、米国協会理事協会が作成した膨大な国際的なデータセットを用いて、専門職協会と専門家協会23団体のボランティア活動のパターンを調査する。比較分析を用いることによって、職業人生における特定の背景下でのボランティア活動を予測する要素を、広範囲の理論から評価することができる。調査結果から、パターンが異なる専門的なボランティア活動では、非専門家の背景(すなわち教会もしくはコミュニティのボランティア)による予測内容を反映させることが可能だといえる。

VOLU-D-11-00012R1

الجمعيات المهنية والحرفية تعتمد على المتطوعين في القيادة ، الخبرة، تجنيد الأعضاء، جمع الأموال ، النشاط التشريعي ، والعديد من الأنشطة الأخرى. حتى الآن ، العمل التطوعي في المهن قد تلقى القليل جدا من الإهتمام التحليلي. هذه الدراسة تستخدم مجموعة كبيرة من البيانات الدولية التي أنتجتها الجمعية الأمريكية لرابطة المديرين التنفيذيين لدراسة أنماط النشاط التطوعي في 23 من نقابات مهنية وجمعيات. يسمح لنا التحليل المقارن أن نختبر نظريات واسعة النطاق على العوامل التي تتنبأ بنشاط المتطوعين في سياق معين من الحياة المهنية، حيث قد تختلف دوافع التطوع. النتائج التي توصلنا إليها تشير إلى أن بعض أنماط نشاط المتطوعين المهنيين مرآة يعكس ما يمكن أن نتوقع في السياق الغير مهني (مثل،كنيسة أو مجتمع العمل التطوعي) بينما تختلف أنماط أخرى.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Since tax-exempt organizations can register under many possible parts of the tax code, the number of membership organizations serving various occupations may be considerably larger (Haynes and Gazley 2011).

  2. 2.

    Participating associations represented a range of occupational fields, including medicine and healthcare, education, financial management, and engineering. Names of participating associations can be obtained from Gazley and Dignam 2008. Twelve of the participating organizations are incorporated under U.S. law as a 501-c-6 business league, 10 are 501-c-3 charities, and one is a 501-c-4 social welfare organization.

  3. 3.

    Each of the participating 23 associations drew a random sample of its current membership (between 5,000 and 10,000 names) and sent these members an internet survey link. Most associations over-sampled their known volunteers to ensure sufficient participation in the survey. These responses were subject to a weighting formula.

  4. 4.

    The survey uses the definition of volunteering adopted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Survey: “In this study, we are interested in all types of volunteering, not only just the volunteer work you might do in your professional life, but also volunteering in your community, for schools, religious, or any other types of organizations. The term “volunteer” for all questions in this survey refers to any activities for which people are not paid, except perhaps expenses. We want you to include only volunteer activities that you did through or for an organization, even if you did them only once in a while.” This response was followed by a request for members to describe their volunteer labor, and members were coded as volunteers if they answered either question affirmatively.

  5. 5.

    Our calculation of the margin of error on this sampling frame is derived from the following formula: SEp = √p(1 − p)/n where p = the proportion of the population in one category of interest and n = the sampling frame.

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Acknowledgments

This research was conducted in collaboration with the American Society of Association Executives and the Center for Association Leadership. The authors thank anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.

Author information

Correspondence to Beth Gazley.

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Nesbit, R., Gazley, B. Patterns of Volunteer Activity in Professional Associations and Societies. Voluntas 23, 558–583 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11266-011-9218-0

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Keywords

  • Compensation theory
  • Professional associations
  • Rational choice theory
  • Replacement theory
  • Spillover theory
  • Volunteerism