Economics of Associations and Volunteering

  • Eva More-Hollerweger
  • Woods Bowman
  • Beata Gavurova
  • Helena Kuvikova
  • Tye-kyu Park


This chapter reviews economic approaches to volunteers and nonprofit organizations (NPOs), especially membership associations (MAs). Because volunteers work without (significant) pay, volunteering has no market price. Still, volunteering has economic value, as would become evident if all volunteers stopped working simultaneously. Estimating the monetary value of volunteering is a second emphasis of this chapter. The economic contribution of volunteers and MAs (or NPOs generally) has been neglected for a long time. Due to minimal data, the economic relevance of the nonprofit sector has long remained invisible. In recent years, some effort has been made to obtain more information on volunteering, mainly fostered by the academic world, but increasingly recognized and supported by governments. As a third emphasis, this chapter provides a comprehensive overview of relevant, existing data.


Voluntary Action Civic Engagement Information Society Virtual Organization Voluntary Association 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abrams, Burton A., and Mark D. Schmitz. 1984. “The Crowding-out Effect of Governmental Transfers on Private Charitable Contributions: Cross-section Evidence.” National Tax Journal 37(4):563–568.Google Scholar
  2. Alesina, Alberto, and Eliana La Ferrara. 2002. “Who Trusts Others?” Journal of Public Economics 85(2):207–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Alscher, Mareike, Dietmar Dathe, Eckhard Priller, and Rudolf Speth. 2009. Bericht zur Lage und zu den Perspektiven des bürgerlichen Engagements in Deutschland (Report on the situation and prospects of civic engagement in Germany). Berlin: Bundesministerium für Familie Senioren Frauen und Jugend.Google Scholar
  4. Andreoni, James. 1989. “Giving with Impure Altruism: Applications to Charity and Ricardian Equivalence.” Journal of Political Economy 97(6):1447–1458.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Anheier, Helmut, Eva Hollerweger, Christoph Badelt, and Jeremy Kendall. 2003. Work in the Non-profit Sector: Forms, Patterns and Methodologies. Geneva: International Labour Office.Google Scholar
  6. Badelt, Christoph. 1985. Politische Ökonomie der Freiwilligenarbeit. Theoretische Grundlagen und Anwendung in der Sozialpolitik (Political Economy of Volunteering. Theoretical Foundations and Applications in Social Policy). Frankfurt/New York: Campus Verlag.Google Scholar
  7. Badelt, Christoph. 1997. “Entrepreneurship Theories of the Nonprofit-Sector.” Voluntas 8(2):162–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bénabou, Roland, and Jean Tirole. 2006. “Incentives and Prosocial Behavior.” American Economic Review 96(5):1652–1678.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Ben-Ner, Avner, and Gui Benedetto, eds. 1993. The Nonprofit Sector in the Mixed Economy. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  10. Bowman,Woods. 2009. “The Economic Value of Volunteers to Nonprofit Organizations.” Nonprofit Management & Leadership 19(4):491–506.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Brown, Eleanor. 1999. “Assessing the Value of Volunteer Activity.” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 28(1):3–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Brudney, Jeffrey L. 1990. Fostering Volunteer Programs in the Public Sector: Planning, Initiating and Managing Voluntary Activities. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  13. Brudney, Jeffrey L., and Beth Gazley. 2002. “Testing the ConventionalWisdom Regarding Volunteer Programs: A Longitudinal Analysis of the Service Corps of Retired Executives and the U.S. Small Business Administration.” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 31(4):525–548.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Chinman, Matthew J., and Abraham Wandersman. 1999. “The Benefits and Costs of Volunteering in Community Organizations: Review and Practical Implications.” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 28(1):46–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cnaan, Ram A., Femida Handy, and Margaret Wadsworth. 1996. “Defining Who Is a Volunteer: Conceptual and Empirical Considerations.” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 25(3):364–383.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Easley, David, and Maureen O’Hara. 1983. “The Economic Role of the Nonprofit Firm.” Bell Journal of Economics 14(2):531–538.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Foster, Vivien, Susana Mourato, David Pearce, and Ece Özdemiroğlu. 2001. The Price of Virtue: The Economic Value of the Charitable Sector. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Freeman, Richard B. 1997. “Working for Nothing: The Supply of Volunteer Labor.” Journal of Labor Economics 15(1):S140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Frey, Bruno S. 1992. “Tertium Datur: Pricing, Regulating and IntrinsicMotivation.” Kyklos 45(2):161–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Frey, Bruno S., and Reto Jegen. 2001. “Motivation Crowding Theory.” Journal of Economic Surveys 15(5):589–611.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Garbacz, Christopher, and Mark A. Thayer. 1983. “An Experiment in Valuing Senior Companion Program Services.” Journal of Human Resources 18(1):147–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gaskin, Katherine. 1999. VIVA in Europe: A Comparative Study of the Volunteer Investment and Value Audit. London: Institute for Volunteering Research.Google Scholar
  23. Govekar, Paul L., and Michele A. Govekar. 2002. “Usihng Economic Theory and Research to Better Understand Volunteer Behavior.” Nonprofit Management and Leadership 13(1):33–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hager, Mark A. 2004. Volunteer Management: Capacity in America’s Charities and Congregations. Washington, DC: The Urban Institute.Google Scholar
  25. Halfpenny, Peter. 1999. “Economic and Sociological Theories of Individual Charitable Giving: Complementary or Contradictory?” Voluntas 10(3):197–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Handy, Femida, and Jeffrey L. Brudney. 2007. “When to Use Volunteer Labor Resources? An Organizational Analysis for Nonprofit Management.” Vrijwillige Iinzet Onderzocht 4(supplement):91–100, Retrieved from Scholar
  27. Handy, Femida, Laurie Mook, and Jack Quarter. 2006. “Organisational Perspectives on the Value of Volunteer Labour.” Australian Journal of Volunteering 11(1):28–36.Google Scholar
  28. Handy, Femida, and Narasimhan Srinivasan. 2004. “Valuing Volunteers: An Economic Evaluation of the Net Benefits of Hospital Volunteers.” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 33(1):28–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hansmann, Henry B. 1980. “The Role of the Nonprofit Enterprise.” The Yale Law Journal 89(5):835–902.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hansmann, Henry B. 1981. “Nonprofit Enterprise in the Performing Arts.” The Bell Journal of Economics 12(2):341–361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hansmann, Henry B. 1996. “The Changing Roles of Public, Private, and Nonprofit Enterprise in Education, Health Care, and Other Humen Services.” Pp. 245–271 in Individual and Social Responsibility: Child Care, Education, Medical Care, and Long-term Care in America, edited by Victor R. Fuchs. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  32. Hodgkinson, Virginia, and Murray S.Weitzman. 1988. Giving and Volunteering in the United States: Findings from a National Survey. Washington, DC: Independent Sector.Google Scholar
  33. Hughes, Patricia. 2006. “The Economics of Nonprofit Organizations.” Nonprofit Management and Leadership 16(4):429–450.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hustinx, Lesley, Femida Handy, Ram A. Cnaan, Jeffrey L. Brudney, Anne Birgitta Pessi, and Naoto Yamauchi. 2010. “Social and Cultural Origins of Motivations to Volunteer: A Comparison of University Students in Six Countries.” International Sociology 25(3):349–382.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. ILO, International Labour Organization. 2008. “Manual on the Measurement of Volunteer Work, Room Document.” Prepared by the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies for the 18th International Conference of Labour Statisticians to Accompany Chapter 5 of Report I, General Report to the ICLS.Google Scholar
  36. James, Estelle. 1983. “How Nonprofits Grow: A Model.” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 2(3):350–365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kissane, Rebecca J., and Jeff Gingerich. 2004. “Do you See What I See? Nonprofit and Resident Perceptions of Urban Neighborhood Problems.” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 33(2):311–333.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kuvíková, Helena, Milan Murgaş, and Juraj Nemec. 2006. Non-Governmental Organizations. Banská Bystrica, Slovakia: Trian.Google Scholar
  39. Kuvíkova, Helena, Jan Stejskal, and Mária Svidroňová. 2014. Nonprofit Organizations: Theoretical and Economic Issues [Neziskové organizácie – teoretické a ekonomické súvislosti]. Banská Bystrica, Slovakia: Belianum.Google Scholar
  40. Mansuri, Ghazala, and Vijayendra Rao. 2004. “Community-Based and-Driven Development: A Critical Review.” The World Bank Research Observer 19(1):1–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Menchik, Peter, and Burton A.Weisbrod. 1987. “Volunteer Labor Supply.” Journal of Public Economics 32:159–183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Nemec, Juraj. 2000. Public Economy (Verejná ekonómia). Banská Bystrica, Slovakia: Matej Bel University.Google Scholar
  43. Olson, Mancur. 1965. The Logic of Collective Action: Public Goods and the Theory of Groups. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Preston, Anne E. 2006. “Volunteer Resources.” Pp. 183–204 in Financing Nonprofits: Putting Theory into Practice, edited by D. Young. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.Google Scholar
  45. Pryor, Frederic L. 2012. “Determinants of the Size of the Nonprofit Sector.” The European Journal of Comparative Economics 9(3):337–348.Google Scholar
  46. Rose-Ackerman, Susan. 1996. “Altruism, Nonprofits, and Economic Theory.” Journal of Economic Literature 34:701–728.Google Scholar
  47. Salamon, Lester M. 2010. “Putting the Civil Society Sector on the Economic Map of the World.” Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics 81(2):167–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Salamon, Lester M., and Helmut K. Anheier. 1998. “Social Origins of Civil Society: Explaining the Nonprofit Sector Cross-Nationally.” Voluntas 9(3):213–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Salamon, Lester M., Helmut K. Anheier, Regina List, Stefan Toepler, S. Wojchiech Sokolowski, and Associates. 1999. Global Civil Society: Dimensions of the Nonprofit Sector. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies.Google Scholar
  50. Salamon, Lester M., S. Wojchiech Sokolowski, and Associates. 2004. Global Civil Society: Dimensions of the Nonprofit Sector. Vol. 2. Bloomfield, CT: Kumarian.Google Scholar
  51. Salamon, Lester M., S. Wojchiech Sokolowski, and Megan A. Haddock. 2011. “Measuring the Economic Value of VolunteerWork Globally: Concepts, Estimates, and a Road-Map to the Future.” Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics 82:217–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Schofer, Evan, and Wesley Longhofer. 2011. “The Structural Sources of Association.” American Journal of Sociology 117(2):539–585.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Smith, David H. 1994. “Determinants of Voluntary Association Participation and Volunteering: A Literature Review.” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 23(3): 243–263.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Smith, David H. 2015a. “Voluntary Associations, Sociology of.” Pp. 252–260 in International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, 2nd edition, Vol. 25. James D. Wright, Editor-in-Chief. Oxford, UK: Elsevier.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Smith, David H. 2015b. “Voluntary Organizations.” Pp. 261–267 in International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, 2nd edition, Vol. 25. James D. Wright, Editor-in-Chief. Oxford, UK: Elsevier.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Smith, David H. (forthcoming) 2017. “The Global, Historical and Contemporary Impacts of Voluntary Membership Associations on Human Societies.” Voluntaristics Review: Brill Research Perspectives 2(2).Google Scholar
  57. Smith, David H., and Ce Shen. 2002. “The Roots of Civil Society: A Model of Voluntary Association Prevalence Applied to Data on Larger Contemporary Nations.” International Journal of Comparative Sociology 43(2):93–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Sugden, Robert. 1984. “Reciprocity: The Supply of Public Goods Through Voluntary Contributions.” Economic Journal 94(376):772–787.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Svidroňová, Mária, and Helena Kuvíkova. 2014. “Sustainability and Operation of NGOs Influenced by Tax System: The Case of Slovakia.” International Journal of Not-for-Profit Law 16(1):8–23.Google Scholar
  60. Svidroňová, Mária, and Gabriela Vaceková. 2012. “Current State of Self-financing of Private Non-profit Organizations in the Conditions of the Slovak Republic.” Technological and Economic Development of Economy 18(3):438–451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Titmuss, Richard. 1970. The Gift Relationship: Form Human Blood to Social Policy. London: Allen and Unwin.Google Scholar
  62. United Nations Statistics Division, ed. 2003. Handbook on Non-Profit Institutions in the System of National Accounts. New York: United Nations.Google Scholar
  63. Weisbrod, Burton A. 1988. The Nonprofit Economy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  64. Wolozin, Harold. 1966. “The Value of Volunteer Services in the US Economy.” Paper Delivered at the Annual Meeting of the Southern Economic Association, Atlanta, November.Google Scholar
  65. Wolozin, Harold. 1968. “Volunteer Manpower in the United States.” In Federal Programs for the Development of Human Resources, a compendium of papers submitted to the US Congress, Joint Economic Committee. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  66. Young, Dennis R. 1983. If Not for Profit for What? A Behavioral Theory of the Nonprofit Sector Based on Entrepreneurship. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.Google Scholar
  67. Ziemek, Susanne. 2003. The Economics of Volunteer Labor Supply. An Application to Countries of a Different Development Level. Frankfurt/M., Germany: Peter Lang.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eva More-Hollerweger
    • 1
  • Woods Bowman
    • 2
  • Beata Gavurova
    • 3
  • Helena Kuvikova
    • 4
  • Tye-kyu Park
    • 5
  1. 1.Austria
  2. 2.USA
  3. 3.Slovakia
  4. 4.Slovakia
  5. 5.Korea

Personalised recommendations