Going by the Book: Preparing Nonprofit Leaders for Volunteer Risk and Liability Through Nonprofit Education Programs


  • Patricia Groble Levin College of urban Affairs Cleveland State University
  • Jeffrey Brudney University of North Carolina Wilmington




nonprofit organizations, volunteers, risk management, volunteer management, Volunteer Protection Act


Nonprofit organizations frequently encounter risks that expose them to liability. These risks extend to the management of volunteers. We assume that through their programs of study in nonprofit master’s degree programs or concentrations nonprofit professionals are introduced to volunteer resource management, including the subject of risk and liability with respect to volunteer involvement. This research examines the scope of coverage of volunteer resource management and related risk issues in books likely to be assigned in introductory nonprofit courses and human resources courses in nonprofit degree programs and concentrations. Given the rhetoric about nonprofit organizations and community engagement, we expected to find that textbooks required in formal nonprofit education courses would include coverage on safe and responsible involvement of citizen volunteers. However, our analysis shows that these books devote little attention to volunteer resource management, especially risk management. We discuss the findings and their implications for nonprofit leadership and management. 

Author Biographies

Patricia Groble, Levin College of urban Affairs Cleveland State University

PhD candidate, Levin College of Urban Affairs

Jeffrey Brudney, University of North Carolina Wilmington

Betty and Dan Cameron Family Distinguished Professor of Innovation in the Nonprofit Sector Academic Director, Quality Enhancement for Nonprofit Organizations (QENO)