The New Volunteerism Project

The Archival Collection of
Ivan Henry Scheier

Section II

Ethics in Volunteerism

June 1999

The page #'s refer to the pages of the "New Volunteerism  Project: The Ivan Scheier Archival Collection."
Five bound volumes placed in the Reference collection of the
Dayton Memorial Library at Regis University
Table of Contents Page #
Introductory Notes
  "Ethics in Volunteerism: with Putnam Barber" © 1-4
  "Values in Volunteering: Time to Reconsider"  © 5-6
  "The Imitation of Volunteers: Towards an Appropriate Technology of Voluntary Action" © 7-12

@ -- permission for use-with-acknowledgment
© -- Appropriate permission must be secured from the publisher for re-publication

Introductory Notes Ethics in Volunteerism
Ivan Scheier
June 1999

This relates closely to the section on Philosophy; in fact, if I recall correctly from my days as a graduate student in Philosophy, ethics is considered a branch of that field. Indeed, one of the three articles which comprise the present section, is also in the packet on Philosophy.

Judging by my published work, my interest in ethics in volunteerism, appears to have peaked about twenty years ago. I don’t know why; perhaps it can be “blamed” on others, to this extent: there never seemed much reader interest judged by response to these articles. Such interest as there was seemed to be satisfied by periodic publication of a professional code of ethics in conventional form, by the Association for Volunteer Administration and a number of local professional associations.

Mainly, I’ll let the articles speak for themselves, attempting only to highlight a few ways in which they might have been special, even somewhat original, in their approach to ethics. 

“Ethics in Volunteerism: with Putnam Barber, Voluntary Action Leadership. Winter, 1979. An attempt to enliven discussion of ethical issues in leadership of volunteers, by presenting them as dialogue (faint shades of Socrates) in which not everything is completely cut and dried, as in the flat statements of a code of ethics.

“Values in Volunteering: Time to Reconsider” Voluntary Action Leadership. Summer, 1978. An attempt to derive the ethical basis of volunteerism and dealing with volunteers, from the essential nature of volunteers themselves, and what they represent in society.

“The Imitation of Volunteers: Towards an Appropriate Technology of Voluntary Action.” Volunteer Administration. Vol XIV, Number 1, 1981. Develops the thesis that, not just our ethics as individual professionals but the behavior of the profession as a whole, should be consistent with the values volunteering represents in our society. In case it’s not perfectly clear from the working of the article itself, I wrote this seething at what seemed to me, a blatant individual and organizational betrayal of an organization I had developed in the pervious decade. It was my first – though not my last – major lesson on the extent to which non-profit participants can behave very profitably indeed, in a selfish, turf-y sense.

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