Acting on our values: do social workers volunteer?


Volunteer activity among social workers is explored in this article. Anecdotal evidence suggests social workers are not major contributors of volunteer time. The overriding research questions of this descriptive-exploratory study are to what extent do social workers engage in volunteer activities, what factors influence their decisions to volunteer, and what are the types of activities in which they engage. Volunteerism is defined as giving of one's talent, time, and energy to individuals, groups, communities, or organizations without compensation. A 27-item survey specific to this study was devised. Mailing lists were procured from state licensing boards representing two states in each of 10 federal regions. Random sampling was used to proportionally sample 5 percent of approximately 77,000 licensed social workers; useable surveys numbered 1,544 from a sampling pool of 3,850, yielding a 40 percent response rate. The findings demonstrate that social workers have volunteered in the past but no longer choose to do so. Respondents believe that other people should give and volunteer but that social workers give enough through their poorly paid jobs and poor working conditions. Implications suggest that the very professionals who might serve as community role models potentially have the reverse influence in regard to promoting volunteerism.

Cite this paper

@article{Gibelman2008ActingOO, title={Acting on our values: do social workers volunteer?}, author={Margaret Gibelman and Jay Sweifach}, journal={Social work}, year={2008}, volume={53 1}, pages={53-64} }