Rethinking Volunteering as a Natural Resource: A Conceptual Typology

Stephanie A. Koolen-Maas*, Lucas C.P.M. Meijs, Philine S.M. van Overbeeke, Jeffrey L. Brudney

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Volunteering can be understood as a human-made, renewable resource that can be grown and recycled, and whose continuation and volume of flow can be influenced by human beings positively as well as negatively. We extend the metaphor and break down the monolithic concept into three categories: traditional (wild salmon), third party (farmed fish), and spontaneous (marine zooplankton). Each volunteer resource (a) manifests in particular forms of volunteer service, (b) serves different purposes, (c) has different antecedents, (d) is harvested in different ways by different stakeholders meeting different conditions, and requires a specific form of management, based on its (e) benefits and challenges, (f) resource level, (g) propagation methods, and (h) sustainability needs. The three resources are fluid and interact dynamically. The distinction of three volunteer resources and their dynamics extends the conceptualization of volunteering as a natural resource and informs a new research agenda.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353S-377S
JournalNonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly
Issue number1_suppl
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: The first author received partial financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article from the Dutch Vereniging Nederlandse Organisaties Vrijwilligerswerk (NOV). NOV is the Dutch association for voluntary work.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.


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