The purpose of this study is to explore and converse about the role of volunteers within the for-profit and non-profit organizations and examine their influence on organizational decision making. According to Lawrence and Weber, (2011), a volunteer is a person who donates his/her time or efforts for a cause or organization without being paid. Volunteering is about giving your time to a good cause. You don’t get paid, but you do get the chance to use your gifts, abilities, talents, cultivate new skills, and experience the pleasure that comes from making a real difference to other people’s lives, as well as your own. Hansen, (2014), argue that it is a pretty common mistake to think of volunteering as just something nice that people can do. Sure, it may make them feel great about helping, but what impact does it really have? Volunteers have a huge impact on the health and well-being of organizations and communities worldwide. According to Ellis, (2003), from the perspective of the recipient of service, a volunteer is someone who gives time, effort and talent to meet a need or further a mission, without going on the payroll. Volunteers donate their time, expertise, talents, abilities, skills, and get-up-and-go energy to assistance the organization because they have faith and confidence in the organization’s operations, mission, ideas, and vision.
According to Bruce and Martin, (1992), a non-profit organization is a group organized for purposes other than generating profit and in which no part of the organization’s income is distributed to its members, directors, or officers. They can take the form of a corporation, an individual enterprise (for example, individual charitable contributions), unincorporated association, partnership, foundation (distinguished by its endowment by a founder, it takes the form of a trusteeship), or condominium (joint ownership of common areas by owners of adjacent individual units incorporated under state condominium acts). Non-profit organizations must be titled as not-for-profit when formed and may only employ measures acceptable by laws for non-profit businesses. Non-profit organizations include churches, public schools, public charities, public clinics and hospitals, political organizations, legal aid societies, volunteer services organizations, labor unions, professional associations, research institutes, museums, and some governmental agencies. Any funds earned by a non-profit organization must be reserved by the organization, and used for its own disbursements, disbursements, processes, and programs. Many non-profit organizations also pursue tax exempt status, and may also be exempted from local sales taxes or property taxes.
These for-profit and not-for-profit organizations are distinguished from each other in the areas of interest, events, and actions, and whosesoever field of interest is well-defined by their organizational mission and vision statements. The for-profit and non-profit organizations have much in common, but there are significant differences between the two. According to Ingram, (2009), the most fundamental difference between non-profit and for-profit organizations is the reason they exist. For-profit companies are usually established to produce income for directors and their workers, while non-profits are usually established to help a charitable, philanthropic, humanitarian, or conservational and environmental need. In contrast, non-profit organizations distribute all of their profits into programs and services designed at meeting individuals unmet needs, such as food, water, shelter and education, or towards other issues such as endangered species. For-profit companies offer products and services that are appreciated in the open market, electing to allocate returns among proprietors, workforces, stockholders, owners, investors, and the organization or business itself.
Additionally, according Ingram, (2009), sales revenue, in the form of cash and receivables, is the life-blood of for-profit organizations. These companies depend on earned income and credit arrangements with lenders and suppliers to finance their operations. Ingram, (2009), goes on by suggesting non-profits, on the other hand, rely almost entirely on donations and grants from individuals, government entities and organizations. Non-profit and for-profit organizations income basis are regulated, to a large extent, on how the company can use its currency. Since non-profit income comes from donors, non-profits are expected to utilize their funding in a way that maximizes benefits to their targeted recipients. Since for-profits produce their own revenue and pay their own bills, they have much more ethical latitude as to how they spend. Another different Ingram, (2009), suggests is for-profit organizations are taxed in a number of ways, depending on their form of organization. Small businesses, for example, are usually sole proprietorships and partnerships.
Ingram, (2009), goes on to state “the IRS treats the income from proprietorships and partnerships as personal income, and the owners are held personally liable for all business debts”. Nonprofit organizations can register for income-tax exemption under section 501(c) 3 of the tax code, Ingram, (2009). Contributors to non-profit organizations are offered tax incentives for their donations as well. According to the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), (n.d.), non-profit organizations are treated as legal entities for tax purposes, leaving company forefathers not liable for organizational debts. Lastly, Ingram, (2009), provides a human resource differences between the two. The workforces look quite different between for-profit and nonprofit organizations. For-profit companies are staffed with salaried and hourly employees, while non-profits, on the other hand, usually hire a small workforce, but employ a large corps of volunteers. The processes for employing and dismissal, as well as worker inspiration, motivation, communication and direction techniques vary considerably between salaried employees and volunteers. The role of volunteers in non-profit organizations
Volunteers are of huge value to nonprofit organizations. Non-profit organizations frequently depend on the service and commitment of volunteers. The skills and talents of volunteers workers bring nonprofit missions to life. Volunteers perform valuable services for the non-profit organizations. According to HR Specialist, (2002), recent studies estimate that about a hundred million people volunteer each year with an annual value in the range of $150 billion, Not only do volunteers help to save money, but they can provide better service to clients, increase contact with the greater community, make available better expertise, and reduce costs of services. From the early days of America, according to Dreger, (1996). volunteers have pitched in to treat community maladies and needs. Hospitals, orphanages, schools and local fire companies (to name a very few) were the result of a civic rallying around a cause. That civic concern and community merger continues today in religious charities, Habitat for Humanities, hospitals, libraries, schools and colleges, Hospices, and YMCAs (to name just a very few).
While we are sometimes suspicious of volunteers, the truth is that nonprofit organizations would not exist if it were not for the volunteers. Specifically, governance, programming and fund development are three areas of activity in which volunteers assist non-profit organizations, Dreger, (1996). When speaking of governance, volunteers who serve on boards of directors and their committees are the lifeblood of nonprofit organizations, Dreger, (1996). While the Executive Director takes care of day to day matters, volunteer directors take responsibility for policy making, for assuring that the organization has adequate funding, and for meeting any legal challenges that might arise. We often talk about the attributes of a good board member such as a combination of several of the following: wealth, wisdom, work, and the influence factor. With an appropriate mix of these attributes, boards will be in a position of strength to act on their strategic plans. If an organization is preparing for a capital campaign, then adding more wealth or wow to the board makes sense. If instituting new programming is in the future, then leaning the board toward wisdom and work would be productive. A board that polishes its composition will be motivated and strengthened. In the area of programming, Dreger, (1996), recommend that trained volunteers can be invaluable in helping to deliver services to clients.
They reduce costs through their work and can often provide better services to clients since they serve because of their passion for the organization’s mission. Many volunteers also bring expertise or experience to the organization that is free, such as legal or accounting services, for instance. Other volunteers provide contact with parts of the community that an organization generally doesn’t interact with volunteers will talk about your organization with their friends and colleagues—the good and the bad), and chief among them would be the volunteer who coordinates volunteers! For each volunteer there is the reward of helping others, of serving the cause. When properly directed, volunteers are a treasured asset, real gems in delivering services to those in need, Dreger, (1996). Finally, in the Fund Development area, while fundraising is a chief responsibility of the board, Dreger, (1996), argue there are other ways that volunteers can help to advance the organization. As part of a development committee, volunteers can serve as prospectors, mining their networks for nuggets you want to pan out. They also can be the go-getters who will put on special events such as auctions, galas, or raffles. Others can seek to get better media coverage.
For the best results, it’s important to think through a recruitment strategy to get the right volunteers serving with you, similar to massaging the board’s composition. With a clear idea of what needs to be accomplished and with direction from staff, volunteers can expand your horizons, help you to meet people of influence and affluence that you wouldn’t otherwise, bring skills and expertise that will increase revenues, and become new and dear friends. This is particularly helpful when making plans for a capital campaign. As a leader in an organization, you make the difference between mere success and great success. John Maxwell, author of many books on leadership, says “Leadership…has to do with casting vision and motivating people.” Those people in many cases are the volunteers who have sought you out and you have sought out.
The degree to which they add value to your work and mission is dependent on how they are assigned tasks, trained, supervised, evaluated, and loved. Celebrate with your volunteers in all areas of activity! You’ll have lots of fun doing it.. The service volunteers provide to non-profit organizations is of immense value; they take any job, big or small and commit to its completion. They represent the organization before the community and take on the governance responsibility over the organization; they care for the organization as if it was a business of their own. The role of volunteers in for-profit organizations
Volunteering at for-profit organizations is generally frowned upon under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Under the FLSA, employees may not volunteer services to for-profit private sector employers. On the other hand, in the vast majority of circumstances, individuals can volunteer services to public sector employers. When Congress amended the FLSA in 1985, it made clear that people are allowed to volunteer their services to public agencies and their community with but one exception; public sector employers may not allow their employees to volunteer, without compensation, additional time to do the same work for which they are employed. There is no prohibition on anyone employed in the private sector from volunteering in any capacity or line of work in the public sector. Tuschman, R., (2012). A shaky economy and poor job market can tempt employers to use free labor; volunteers who are willing (at least initially) to give up compensation to obtain on-the-job skill or to help a desired social cause or a struggling company. While this exercise may seem like a win-win situation, it is overloaded with legal danger for employers. Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and many state and local wage and hour laws, the use of volunteers is strictly regulated. A court or the U.S. Department of Labor will consider misclassified individuals as employees who must be paid at least the minimum wage, and overtime pay if applicable. Penalties and attorneys’ fees may also be assessed.
Under the FLSA, a volunteer will not be considered an employee if the individual volunteers for public service, religious or humanitarian objectives, and without contemplation or receipt of compensation. Typically, volunteers will serve on a part-time basis and will not displace employees or perform work that would otherwise be performed by employees. In addition, to avoid the possibility of coercion, the Department of Labor (DOL) takes the position that paid employees may not volunteer to perform the same type of services for their employer that they are normally employed to perform. These principles are strictly construed against employers. For example, the DOL has opined that there is no employment relationship between a for-profit hospice and individuals who volunteer their services to perform activities of a charitable nature, such as running errands, sitting with patients so that a family may have a break, and going to funerals. However, individuals may not donate their services to hospices to do activities such as general office or administrative work that are not charitable in nature.
Moreover, with respect to those individuals already employed by a hospice, the DOL has stated that they may not volunteer their services to the hospice. In the public sector, an individual who volunteers to perform services for a public agency is not an employee if the individual receives no compensation or is paid expenses, reasonable benefits or a nominal fee. In addition, the FLSA provides that the volunteer services cannot be the same type of services that the individual is employed to perform for the agency. Individuals can qualify as volunteers if they either volunteer to perform services for a different agency or perform different services than they are employed to perform for the same public agency, Tuschman, (2012).
According to the Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA), the difference between an employee and a volunteer in the for-profit sector is a very thin line which can lead an employer to misclassifying employees as volunteers, Bertagna, (2012). According to the same source, employers can use volunteers as long as they adhere to the minimum wage and overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standard Act. “If employers misclassify employees as volunteers, the employer’s perceived opportunity to save on money may become a liability” (Bertagna, 2012).
Volunteers’ roles in for -profit organizations face several limitations since the volunteer-employer relationship is subject to meeting certain conditions in order to not be considered an employee. In light to fully understand the legal interpretation of the volunteer in a for-profit organization it’s convenient to visit the U. S. Supreme Court (1947) observation about evaluating the relationship in today’s volunteer context: ”The determination of the relationship does not depend on isolated factors but rather upon the circumstances of the whole activity.” Volunteers actively participate in activities where they usually have a personal interest in the for-profit sector, like the case of parents volunteering at their children private schools, or personalities giving presentations or lectures at private Universities, not to mention volunteers at private hospitals and their work to alleviate the suffering of the patients. Another category were volunteers participate in for-profit organizations is the case of retires senior managers or directors whom continue to collaborate for their former employers in an emeritus role, sharing their knowledge and experience with the new generations.
The influence volunteers exert on organizational decision-making In the early 1980’s, changes in the American society started to call the attention of the scholars. Pearce (1982) described what he anticipated would result in volunteers looking for leadership roles and advance from their affiliations with organizations. In order to responsibly participate in the decision-making process, volunteers need to understand the role and social responsibility the organization has before the public, its customers and the community (Edwards, 2008).
Volunteers in leadership positions within both non-profit and for-profit organizations exert a great influence in the decision-making process since their specific role positions them in an authority level where their experience and cognizance serves as a foundation for their capacity. Being as board members, advisory council members, or partner emeritus if firms and corporations, volunteers will always serve with the only goal in mind to do the most good for the organization and/or community they serve. Their willingness to share their expertise and knowledge with the organization, will serve as a way to give back some of what they have received through their lives. Sir Winston Churchill is credited with the quote: “We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.” He was able to put volunteerism is its correct perspective. Conclusion
“Our Nation has been profoundly shaped by ordinary Americans who have volunteered their time and energy to overcome extraordinary challenges. From the American Revolution and the Seneca Falls Convention to the everyday acts of compassion and purpose that move millions to make change in their communities, our Nation has always been at its best when individuals have come together to realize a common vision. As we continue to pursue progress, service and social innovation will play an essential role in achieving our highest ambitions — from a world-class education for every child to an economy built to last. During National Volunteer Week, we pay tribute to all who give of themselves to keep America strong, and we renew the spirit of service that has enriched our country for generations.” (Obama, 2012)
Alexis de Tocqueville was profoundly move d by America’s spirit of volunteerism when he toured the United States in 1831, he recognized the way Americans were prompt to assist one another and to sacrifice part of their time to for the welfare of the state (Bertagna, 2012). This is the true spirit of volunteerism, when people devote their time and energy to assist in pursuing and obtaining a greater good. The role volunteers play in modern organizations is of paramount importance, they donate their time, their talent, and their knowledge to support and assist with causes they believe in and where they have placed their hopes and their hearts. Those individuals who perform hours of service without compensation do it for civic, charitable, or humanitarian reasons deserve to be recognized and respected, deserve to be honored for what they do.
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