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.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)