Consider the term that has become popular in recent years in English-speaking countries: “volunteer engagement.” Do you really know what it means? Surprisingly, despite its widespread use, there was no research on volunteer engagement until 2008. In this two-part e-Volunteerism feature, Erin R. Spink shares her seminal research on volunteer engagement and explores why volunteer professionals have been talking about volunteer engagement without a definition for more than a decade.
In Part 1 of this feature, which is based on a presentation at a national Canadian conference and published in the current issue, Spink examines the work of four mainstream authors and their efforts to present a framework for how concepts like "volunteer engagement" are first used and then embraced. Part 2 of Spink’s article, published in our next issue, concludes that a proper definition of "volunteer engagement" is not only necessary and practical but a step that will help define the future of the profession. Readers of Spink’s article will be challenged, provoked and perhaps somewhat surprised as Spink questions who we are as a profession and where we're heading.