Public Perception of "Who is a Volunteer": An Examination of the Net-Cost Approach from a Cross-Cultural Perspective

  • Femida Handy
  • Ram A. Cnaan
  • Jeffrey L. Brudney
  • Ugo Ascoli
  • Lucas C. M. P. Meijs
  • Shree Ranade


Our aim is to enhance the knowledge regarding how the public assess and rate volunteerism. We begin by first developing the model for understanding the potential use of the net-cost concept in eliciting the public's subjective perceptions on the extent to which certain activities are perceived as volunteerism. Four hypotheses relevant to the use of the net-cost concept are developed. We developed a questionnaire consisting of 50 case scenarios and applied it in Canada, India, Italy, Netherlands, and Georgia and Philadelphia in the United States, each with a sample of 450 adults or more. With one exception, our net-cost hypotheses are supported, suggesting that the public perception of volunteering is strongly linked with the costs and benefits that accrue to the individual from the volunteering activity, and that this result holds true across different cultures. Finally, we suggest directions for future research that can shed further light on the relationship between net cost and public good.

volunteerism public perception net cost cross-cultural 


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Copyright information

© International Society for Third-Sector Research 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Femida Handy
    • 1
  • Ram A. Cnaan
    • 2
  • Jeffrey L. Brudney
    • 3
  • Ugo Ascoli
    • 4
  • Lucas C. M. P. Meijs
    • 5
  • Shree Ranade
    • 6
  1. 1.York UniversityTorontoCanada
  2. 2.University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.University of GeorgiaAthens
  4. 4.University of AnconaAnconaItaly
  5. 5.Erasmus UniversityRotterdamThe Netherlands
  6. 6.Marketing and Market Research ConsultantsIndia

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