This article studies volunteerism through the phenomenon of dropping out. By ascertaining the achievements, difficulties, and dilemmas of volunteers at the Center for Assistance to Victims of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence, we explored the process of dropping out as an encore to understanding the meaning of volunteerism that ends with abandoning a desired activity. On the basis of a longitudinal study, we argue that dropping out is not always a product of waning motivation—for many volunteers, dropping out was extremely difficult—but rather the outcome of unabridged discrepancies between “ought” and “actual” experiences. Volunteers expect to feel good about themselves. In contrast, the organization expects them to act as free agents who can independently manage feelings of pain and self-doubt. When such discrepancies between expectations and reality occur, feelings of anger and disappointment set in. As a result, devoted volunteers drop out in order to preserve their positive self-feeling. It is our contention that in order to understand the nature of volunteers' dropout and perseverance, close attention should be paid to processes of self-regulation in the context of the specific relations between the volunteers and the organization.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Strategy and Management