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Volunteer Administration: A Continuing Misnomer?

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In 1996, Ivan Scheier wrote a series of articles for the “Grapevine” newsletter which challenged volunteer administrators to consider the pros and cons of using the term 'volunteer' in describing the work that our profession undertakes. In the article, titled “Volunteer Administration: An Emerging Misnomer” (http://academic.regis.edu/volunteer/ivan/sect01/sect01b.htm), Ivan suggested that those of us leading volunteer resources were often guiding the work of many people not readily identified as volunteers. He believed we were working with both a credit gap and an identity gap in the sector and often sought ideas about how we could overcome these shortfalls.

In the ensuing decade, our profession has continued to grow. We now involve even more volunteers from areas not traditionally associated with volunteering, while involving people whose motivations are less and less altruistic by the day. We have also continued to debate whether the term 'volunteer' is outdated and needs a complete revamping.