Departmental Papers (SPP)

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

March 2000


Volunteers are the cornerstones on which the voluntary sector is predicated. We are accustomed to using this phrase in every aspect of our lives, yet too little systematic work has been carried out to define this term in a rigorous and precise manner. Volunteering is the essence of the scholarly work of numerous academicians around the world, however there are many issues that arise when people report their own volunteering or attempt to define the term volunteer. No clear-cut definition that encompasses all aspects of volunteering exists. Often too many different activities and situations are aggregated into this concept (Cnaan, Handy, & Wadsworth, 1996; Scheier, 1980; Smith, 1995; Tremper, Seidman, & Tufts, 1994; Vineyard, 1993).


Reprinted from Voluntas, Volume 11, Issue 1, 2000, pages 45-65.
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NOTE: At the time of publication, author Femida Handy was affiliated with York University. Currently November 2006, she is a faculty member in the School of Social Policy and Practice.
The authors assert their right to include this material in the ScholarlyCommons@Penn.



Date Posted: 08 November 2006

This document has been peer reviewed.