Public perceptions of and trust in associations and volunteers

René Bekkers, Irina Mersianova, David H. Smith, Samir Abu-Rumman, Michael Layton, Krishna Roka

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


This chapter summarizes and categorizes findings from research on perceptions of volunteers and of membership associations (MAs) among actors in three types of positions vis-à-vis nonprofit organizations (NPOs): members of the general public, actors in government, and actors in the corporate world of business. A fairly stable core of these perceptions depends on individual characteristics of these stakeholders. Three failures of NPOs threaten perceptions of MAs: (1) amateurism, (2) over-exclusion, and (3) asymmetry of information - lack of transparency, the potential for fraud, and violations of the non-distribution constraint in NPOs. MAs and other NPOs can influence perceptions by changing their behavior in interactions with stakeholders and in their communication strategies. Finally, the chapter summarizes findings from research on perceptions of MAs in four specific world regions.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook of Volunteering, Civic Participation, and Nonprofit Associations
Subtitle of host publicationVolume 2
EditorsDavid Horton Smith, Robert A. Stebbins, Jurgen Grotz
PublisherPalgrave / MacMillan
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781137263179
ISBN (Print)9781137263162
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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