Research: Immunity under the Volunteer Protection Act (USA)

graphic by Jayne Cravens representing work of volunteersVolume 6, Issue 1 (Apr 2015) of the Nonprofit Policy Forum features research by Patricia Groble and Jeffrey L. Brudney, “When Good Intentions Go Wrong: Immunity under the Volunteer Protection Act.” It’s research about a law in the USA. The abstract says:

The Volunteer Protection Act (VPA) was enacted in 1997 to encourage volunteerism by protecting individuals from liability for their negligent actions while volunteering. Proponents intended to provide legal safeguards for volunteers, whom they claimed were deterred from volunteering by fears of liability. Little attention has been paid to this legislation since its enactment, however. This article examines the implementation and interpretation of the VPA through the lens of case law to determine whether the act has had its intended effects for volunteers. Our analysis of all court cases in which the VPA has been cited shows that volunteers are at risk for lawsuits over a variety of actions during the course of their volunteer activities. This analysis also demonstrates that although volunteers can avail themselves of the VPA’s protection, their success in invoking this defense is mixed.

A must read for managers of volunteers… however, it’s cost-prohibitive for most of them: the article costs $42.00 / 30,00 € / £23.00 to access (the entire issue of the journal is $235.00 / 172,00 € / £129.00. I’ll be heading to my local library to see if I can access it through them (I suspect I’ll have to schlep 100 minutes by mass transit one-way, all the way to downtown Portland via the bus and train to read it, in order to read it). The Nonprofit Policy Forum is an international journal that publishes original research and analysis on public policy issues and the public policy process related to the work of nonprofit organizations.

Also see: List of

List of research and evaluations of virtual volunteering, as a practice in general or focused on specific projects (much of the research is free to access).

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