Changing Nature of Formal Service Program Volunteering
Most other chapters in this Handbook focus on volunteering in associations, but this chapter focuses instead mainly on volunteering in volunteer service programs (VSPs). As discussed at length in Handbook Chapter 15, VSPs are essentially volunteer departments of other, larger, controlling, parent organizations, such as nonprofit agencies or government agencies.
Where the member volunteers of voluntary associations have great collective power, electing their top leaders, the volunteers in a VSP have little or no power in the VSP or in their larger, parent organization, and do not elect the top leaders of their VSP or their parent organization. This marked structural difference in authority and power structure has major implications for volunteers and the volunteering experience in these two distinct kinds of volunteering settings (see Smith 2015a, 2015b).
Volunteering encompasses individual and social dimensions: it is a practice that involves an investment made by the individual to contribute to other people outside one’s household, and often to the more general, collective welfare.
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