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The Strange History and Future Direction of Our Field's Professional Associations

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For the last decade, we’ve watched professional associations of volunteer program managers – on local, state/provincial, national and even international levels - launch, thrive, wither, revive or stagnate in dozens of countries. Our conclusion? There is still no consistency of purpose or success among these various groups, though the need for professional exchange remains as critical as ever. In this Points of View, we examine the history and context of professional societies in general, and of those in volunteerism in particular. And we consider how associations’ needs have changed and what we might do collectively in the future.