An Asset-Based Approach to Volunteering: Exploring Benefits for Low-Income Volunteers

Jodi Benenson, Allison Stagg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Scopus citations


Research demonstrates that volunteering provides many benefits for individuals and communities. However, research has not adequately addressed the potential significance of volunteering as a mechanism for low-income individuals to improve their own lives and support their communities. To account for the benefits volunteering could generate, research must shift from an emphasis on what low-income volunteers lack to an approach that uncovers the strengths and wealth present among low-income volunteers and their communities. The purpose of this article is to present a theoretically informed asset-based framework for analyzing volunteerism research. Through an examination of four nonfinancial assets—social capital, human capital, cultural capital, and political capital—we illustrate how an asset-based approach offers an opportunity to explore the ways low-income individuals could build and leverage assets through volunteering. Implications for future research that frames volunteering as an asset-building strategy are considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131S-149S
JournalNonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly
StatePublished - Feb 2016


  • asset-building
  • assets
  • capital
  • low-income
  • volunteering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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