Milestones Timeline

This Milestones Timeline is based on the documents available in our database (Susan J. Ellis' original library plus some additional sources). The Timeline reflects only a portion of the chronological progression of pivotal events and trends that influenced the work of volunteer engagement professionals during the 20th century. Feel free to share with us additional documents that reflect this history and which you feel should be included in the Database and/or Timeline.


Volunteer Workers, published by the National Committee for Mental Hygiene, Inc., provides one of the earliest examples of volunteer management guidance and practices.


Directors of volunteer services in hospitals develop a Bill of Rights and Code of Responsibility for Volunteers.


A special report on the emerging role of volunteer bureaus explores this new resource for local communities.


Field Work for the Undergraduate Pre-Professional Student addresses early forms of service learning and student internships in social work.


The Annual Forum of the national conference on Social Welfare looks at various volunteer and staff models.


The Council of National Organizations for Adult Education produces Probing Volunteer Staff Relations -- a kit and manual of two self-inventory questionnaires with remarkable relevance even many decades later!


An early cartoon depicts the many roles of a Typical Director of Voluntary Service.

A forum workshop explores volunteering trends, presented jointly by the National Conference on Social Welfare and The Association of Volunteer Bureaus of America. Topics discussed include:  payment for VISTA “volunteers”; confusion over terminology in the field (voluntarism vs. voluntaryism vs. volunteerism); and changing volunteer motivations.

A national conference of the Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centers focuses on 100,000 Hours A Week by volunteers serving youth and families.


The first National Register of Volunteer Jobs in Court Settings illustrates the rapid growth and scope of volunteer involvement in this type of government agency.


"Americans Volunteer" provides data from the very first national survey of volunteers, and begins to give coordinators of volunteers a sense of the size and scope of this field.

"A Guide to Action:  Helping students to help others" is published by the U.S. government providing comprehensive practical information on managing college-age volunteers.


Staff Guide for Volunteer Resources addresses management for offices of mental health and mental retardation.  This may be one of the first uses of the phrase "volunteer resource" in the U.S.


Throughout this decade, volunteer recruitment is a frequent topic in many settings, such as attracting minority group and low income people as court volunteers.

One of the first comprehensive books on volunteer management is published -- "The Volunteer Community:  Creative Use of Human Resources" by Eva Schindler-Rainman and Ronald Lippitt

Volunteer handbooks are increasingly being created in a number of sectors, such as the Handbook on Volunteers in Army Community Service.

Project Gutenberg, a volunteer effort to digitize, archive and distribute online written cultural works in the public domain begins. It is probably the first instance of organized virtual volunteering.   A complete summary of virtual volunteering history is available at the Virtual Volunteering Wiki


The first National Conference on Education for Voluntary Action signals a growing desire for more formal training and professional development for leaders and managers of volunteer programs.

An entire issue of Christian Ministry magazine is devoted to the topic of volunteers as religious institutions begin recognizing the need for more practical information for volunteer leaders within faith settings.

Voices in the business sector begin calling for a less haphazard and subjective approach to community support, as discussed in Philanthropy:  Still the Corporate Stepchild.


A small book, Volunteerism: an Emerging Profession, is published.  With chapters written be several leading researchers and writers in the field, this early work addresses the role of volunteering in society, recruitment and supervision practices and the future of volunteer action.

Ivan Sheier's article "Need Overlap Analysis:  A Technique for Job Development educates practitioners about how and why to develop mission-based volunteer roles.  Increased attention is given to how to prepare effective job descriptions for volunteer staff.

For the first time, the U.S. Department of Labor's Directory of Occupational titles includes a career ladder of positions focused on volunteer leadership and management.  Harriet Naylor's advocacy at the federal level was instrumental in achieving this important step in the evolution of the profession as a credible organizational function.


Anthropologist Margaret mead addresses the question, "Do we really need volunteers?"

Professional Ethics in Volunteer Services Administration are adopted by members of AAVS, the national professional association.

The MS Magazine series on Volunteers:  The Great Debate focuses on the struggle to reconcile the feminist movement with current stereotypes related to volunteer service.  At the heart of this debate is the 1971 national Organization for Women (NOW) conference resolution cautioning women to distinguish between "traditional, or service-oriented voluntary activity" and "political, or change-oriented volunteering".  The first is viewed by NOW as being detrimental to improving the status of women while the second is viewed as having the potential for change which benefits women.


Marlene Wilson's book, The Effective Management of Volunteer Programs, is published.  This marks the first time that management principles are applied as a practical framework for the management and leadership of volunteers, and the book quickly becomes a widely used resource by trainers and practitioners.

The National Congress on Volunteerism and Citizenship is convened as an official Bicentennial program.

Several public policy issues are challenging coordinators and managers of volunteers to focus on relevant social and governmental topics beyond their own organizations and consider the need for collective advocacy.


The term "citizen participation" gains momentum and is found in many publications focused on community schools, parent involvement councils, self-help groups and citizen advisory committees.

Neighboring and self-help emerge as topics of relevance to both community development and volunteer management leaders.

A Primer on Insurance for Volunteers signals the rapidly increasing interest in risk management.  Several specialized insurance policies become available during this decade, offering liability protection for volunteer drivers, court volunteers, and ACTION Older Americans Volunteer Programs, etc.

Practitioners are still wrestling with service learning and how to work effectively with teachers and students, as summarized in the article by Susan Ellis, Agency Volunteer Directors Voice Issues, Concerns, New Project Ideas.

A study of the State Office of Volunteerism program signals that this national network of state government support for effective volunteerism is going strong.

Harriet Naylor's conference speech on youth volunteering includes some early history on this topic.


Groups of volunteer administrators throughout the country are recognizing the value of creating program standards and policies they can apply in their own organizations.

The Institute for Fund Raising publishes a list of volunteer coordinator "hats" -- thus starting to broaden perceptions about the complexity and scope of this job function.

A simple ripple-effect diagram illustrates the effect of successful volunteer coordination on multiple stakeholders.


The complex relationship between unions and volunteerism is a key issue of the late 1970's, discussed in many articles such as Volunteers and Strikes:  Good Motives Should Not be Exploited.

The booklet How to Translate Volunteer Skills into Employment Credentials illustrates that leaders recognize that volunteers (especially women) want their service experience to mean something in the world of paid work.

As volunteering appears in various TV show scripts, volunteer administrators lament how mass media often portrays these activities in a poor light.

Harriet Naylor's white paper, Volunteers, Resource for Human Services, introduces a topic that will receive much more attention in the decades to come.  though not obvious from the title, her profound words in the Foreward clearly articulate a challenge that lingers long into the future:  "This paper is not intended for volunteers nor even for directors of volunteers, but rather for the executive. It is speaking to the director of an agency, the principal of a school, or the administrator of a government-supported program, for example...Both the executive and the professional director of volunteers have separate leadership roles, and both will be described to show how they complement each other...It is an attempt to help persons in leadership roles in human services to use volunteers in challenging, modern ways that take account of the realities of the modern American scene."

As the decade ends, The New Volunteer:  Getting Ahead While You Give to Others is published in Ladies Home Journal -- one of many articles focused on how the changing role of women connects to traditional images of volunteering.

A list of national organizations focused on volunteerism illustrate the explosion of attention in various sectors of the U.S.

"Passages in the Life of a Profession" by Sarah Jane Rehnborg is the seminal work which leads to the eventual creation of a credential for this field.

The Private Sector Involvement Workbook provides comprehensive structured guidance on how nonprofit and volunteer leaders can work more intentionally with business partners.

The field continues to clarity consistent definitions for its current terminology.


The role of Director of Volunteers as change agent is a concept discussed by leaders in the field.

"Community Service and the Secondary School" examines the problems, pitfalls and potential of involvement of young students in community volunteering -- from the United Kingdom perspective.  It includes advice for school and community agency managers on how to manage the strong trend toward service learning.

The potential for upward mobility in this field is explored by futurist Ivan Scheier.

The corporate/community connection gains strength and momentum during this decade, as volunteer managers learn how to maximize valuable relationships with business. Federal budget cuts place higher expectations on the private sector causing employers to develop more structured practices and policies around employee volunteering.  Corporate Volunteer Councils are formed for networking and sharing of best practices.

The expectation that nonprofits must "do more with less" means leaders of volunteers must add scrounging to their list of skills.

Susan Ellis shares the "7 Deadly Sins of Directing Volunteers" as a humorous way to remind us of the principles that should guide our work.

"Self-Help:  Strategies for the 1980's" is the theme of VISTA's national conference and foreshadows a strong wave of mutual support groups into mainstream volunteering.


A national report, "Funding Volunteer Agencies", signals that nonprofit organizations are becoming aware of the strategic relationship between effective use of volunteers and attracting funds to expand agency services.

Federal budget cuts sets high expectations for volunteerism as the way to maintain services in a time of reduced funding.  Many leaders in the field find this new attention to be a mixed blessing.  While the national spotlight has benefits, they are uneasy with violating the traditional rule that "volunteers should be used to supplement, not supplant paid staff."

Once again health care settings are on the cutting edge of volunteer management practices as they publish an evaluation tool to assist directors of volunteer services in assessing their department and its management.  This publication is based in large part on Guidelines developed by the American Society of Directors of Volunteer Services in 1978.

Pollster George Gallup declares that "volunteers are the glue holding the system together".  He cites several trends which will affect patterns of community service in the future:  a preference for neighborhood involvement, multi-generational projects, and the growth of flex -time and "release time" for community service by employers.

The national report, "Will Volunteering Survive?", offers future strategies for citizen leaders, volunteers, and volunteer administrators.

Coordinators and managers of volunteers learn to take a fresh look at how to recognize volunteers more effectively, thanks to Sue Vineyard's monograph, "Beyond Banquets, Plaques and Pins".

The complexity of volunteer/staff relations continues as a hot topic among volunteer directors, as addressed by Marlene Wilson in her article, "Reversing the Resistance of Staff to Volunteers".


The Professional Certification in Volunteer Administration (C.V.A.) is offered to practitioners as a performance-based credential by the Association for Volunteer Administration.

The Volunteering in Government Act is introduced in Congress to encourage and allow more volunteer involvement in federal agencies such as the National Park Service.  This is consistent with similar recent efforts in a number of state and local governments.  (See related document of examples in North Carolina, Hawaii and Virginia Beach,VA.)  All of these development create new opportunities for skilled volunteer management professionals.


The Volunteer Mileage Bill is introduced in Congress granting additional tax breaks tor volunteers.

The relationship between volunteers and labor unions continues to be a hot topic in both the U.S. and Canada.

A 20-cent commemorative stamp is released, recognizing the role volunteers play in the growth and development of the United States.

More Hollywood celebrities become involved with political activism.  Some organizations are successful at tapping these high-profile volunteers to garner new resources for their missions.

Senior citizens move into the spotlight as a valuable and increasingly popular target for volunteer recruitment.

Leaders and organizations begin exploring the concept of family volunteering.

A survey of 350 Voluntary Action Centers in North America examines this strong network of entities which connect potential volunteers with organizations who need their help.

The VOLUNTEERS! Board Game is an example of how this topic is trying to become a bigger part of popular American culture.


A directory of associations of volunteer directors in North America demonstrates the popularity of these local and regional groups for networking, learning and peer support.

"The No-Apologies Budget" article by G. Neil Karn serves as a strong guide and call to action for volunteer administrators as they seek to justify adequate financial support for volunteer programs.

The annual Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California celebrates the theme, "A Salute to the Volunteer".

Unemployed persons are for targeted recruitment into the volunteer workforce, along with single adults, low-income residents, those available during the daytime, and various ethnic groups.  (See several related documents.)

Pro Bono service enters the volunteer mainstream led by the accounting, legal and health care professions.  (See several related documents.)

Computer technology begins to provide new tools for volunteer recordkeeping.


A national survey on volunteer administration as an occupational practice provides data on this field's continuing evolution.

"Opportunity or Dilemma:  Court-Referred Community Service Workers" is the first major resource to help managers of volunteers learn how to handle the new wave of offenders being mandated to perform community service.  


The number of articles and documents related to professional ethics and standards increases, both in the U.S and abroad.  (See related documents by Volonteurope and the Manitoba Association for Volunteer Administration in Canada.)

Campus Compact serves as clearinghouse and networking hub promoting public service as a strong component of higher education.  Increasing numbers of colleges and universities offer various types of service experiences to students, often for academic credit.

A survey on higher education for volunteer managers identifies 53 institutions in the U.S. and Canada reporting programs and courses focused on volunteer administration.  (See related documents from Hunter College in New York, Antioch University in Maryland and Adelphi University in New York.)


Resources to educate leaders of volunteers become more available in several parts of the world, such as a comprehensive volunteer management manual published in South Australia.

The COORS company launches a Volunteers Under 30 campaign to encourage young adults to contribute their energy and spirit to address community needs.

The federal Family support Act introduces the concept of welfare to work.  Beginning in 1990, a controversial community work experience program will become mandatory for all welfare recipients.  This will have significant implications for managers of volunteers as they determine how to incorporate these individuals into their existing corps of non-paid staff.

New scientific research reveals that those who regularly volunteer to help others experience a physical and emotional "helper's high".  This provides managers of volunteers with a new recruitment message!

Yuppies enter the scene, hailed as a new source of prospective volunteers eager to donate their service.

Nationwide concern about volunteer liability culminates in the introduction of the Volunteer Protection Act in 1987, but it does not pass.  Numerous national-level nonprofits form the National Coalition for Volunteer Protection to advocate for the passage of this landmark legislation.  Agency liability insurance costs are on the rise and volunteer administrators are forced to increase their understanding of many issues related to volunteers and the law.

The Give Five advertising campaign is launched by Independent Sector to encourage measurable growth in giving and volunteering.

the President's Volunteer Action Awards (created in 1982) honor individuals and groups who make unique contributions to their communities and provides practitioners with another way to recognize outstanding local volunteers.


The State Office of Volunteerism Manual documents the scope of these government entities which play an important role in supporting effective volunteer service.

The American Red Cross releases their plan for "Taking Volunteerism into the 21st Century" -- a bold new approach in response to current trends and realities.  This serves as an example for other organizations as they consider how to adapt and survive.

President Bush announces the Points of Light initiative and creation of a new public-private foundation to encourage volunteer programs throughout the nation.  This plan to stimulate volunteerism gets a lukewarm reception from some charities who express concern that nonprofits will not be ready to handle a dramatic influx of new volunteers.

First Lady Barbara Bush highlights "The New Volunteers:  America's Unsung Heroes", in a Newsweek magazine cover story.


In the continuing quest for professional credibility, the Association for Volunteer Administration conducts a survey on employer recognition to explore executive attitudes toward those who lead and manage volunteers in their organizations.

The National and community Service Act of 1990 is approved, authorizing a variety of national service and service learning programs.  This legislation follows many years of debate about the merits of national service and will have a profound impact on volunteer management in the decades to come.


The term "episodic volunteering" enters our vocabulary as the trend toward short-term commitments becomes more evident.  This forces practitioners to rethink how volunteers can contribute value in small chunks of time.

The great debate of community service vocabulary continues and some question if the phrase "mandated volunteerism" is an oxymoron.  (See related document on the evolution of job titles and labels for this field.)

Boston College offers a certificate program of management training for corporate community relations managers.

The American Self-Help Clearinghouse is a resource for developing the untapped potential of mutual aid and self-help groups.