What About the Host Agency? Nonprofit Perspectives on Community-Based Student Learning and Volunteering

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IUPUI (Campus). Center for Urban Policy and the Environment

College student volunteerism and interest in community-based learning are on the rise. Are communities ready for them? This article examines the “supply side” of student engagement: nonprofit capacity to accommodate students. Our analysis of a large random sample of nonprofit managers in two contrasting communities finds that many of the volunteer management (VM) functions assumed to be important in any volunteer context also are important to student engagement. We also find role differentiation between interns, service learners, and general volunteers in the VM tools used to engage these students and the outcomes that can be expected. Despite variation in reported outcomes, nonprofit managers consider some aspects of VM to be essential to all campus–community partnerships. We find that each type of student involvement contributes to organizational capacity in specific ways and that student engagement depends on adequate VM capacity (VMC). Our conclusion discusses how the findings challenge service learning as presently formulated.

Nonprofits and voluntarism
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