Unpaid work meets profit motives: a legally informed definition of volunteering

Charlotte Overgaard, Janelle Kerlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Volunteering evolved with and within a specific organizational form, the non-profit organization. However, since the 1980s a wealth of new organizational forms, including social enterprises, have blurred the traditional non-profit / for-profit divide and have made claims to unpaid volunteer labor. Despite the rise of these new organizational types, academic work on volunteering is underdeveloped. By drawing on U.S. court cases, the intentions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to protect vulnerable workers and the wider literature on organizational logics, work, and volunteering, we present a definition of volunteering that will help organizations and legal practitioners determine when U.S. nonprofit, for-profit and hybrid organizations can legally draw on volunteer labor efforts.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNonprofit Management & Leadership
Publication statusSubmitted - 2020


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