Article Review: Admiring the Organization

October 23, 2008 at 12:07 am Leave a comment

This past summer, Denise Bortree and Richard Waters studied the relationship between volunteers and nonprofit organizations using the four relational quality outcomes originally proposed by Linda Hon and James E. Grunig a decade ago. The relational dimensions are trust, commitment, satisfaction, control mutuality. According to Hon and Grunig, trust is a critical factor in the volunteer’s decision to help an organization advance its mission. Commitment ultimately results in the volunteer’s relation to the organization’s mission. Satisfaction was proven to be a powerful variable used to predict an individual’s willingness to invest time and resources in the organization. Lastly, control mutuality seeks to evaluate which side has more power in the relationship.


After studying these four concepts and conducting their own research, Bortree and Waters tested a fifth dimension of the volunteer-organization relationship not found in the work of Hon and Grunig. The concept of admiration, meaning the degree to which one likes or approves of the behavior of the partner, would provide a way for organizations to assess how key publics view an organization. This addition to the four outcomes contributes to the quality of the relationship. “The presence of admiration in the volunteer-nonprofit organization relationship would likely improve the volunteer’s perception of the relationship. Volunteers seek out organizations that they admire and expect that their donation of time and their work be valued by the organization” (4).


As a public relations major, I am very interested in learning about the different aspects of the field. Public Relations involves the management of relationships between an organization and its significant publics (4) just as the nonprofit-volunteer relationship was studied in this journal. These relational quality outcomes could most definitely be applied to a PR professional’s practices. Although it should have come as no surprise, I was amazed how the relationship between nonprofit organizations and volunteers was so important.


There have been several instances that I volunteered, but my efforts varied among the different organizations. The American Heart Walk is a perfect example of how far a nonprofit organization has come over the years. I am always willing to solicit donations and serve within a community for The American Heart Walk Association because they make volunteering so easy, and they make your personal time and efforts feel much appreciated. However, other nonprofit organizations are less organized and no as appreciative of your service. This article helped me see why it is so important to gain strong relationships with your public and maintain them.


Now that I am more aware of nonprofit organizations and their role in being effective communicators with volunteers, I would like to learn how other organizations seek to maintain strong relationships. The concepts in this article are certainly useful guidelines for public relations, but I am interested to see how large corporations seek the admiration, commitment, and satisfaction of their key public. I will be following Kraft Foods Corporation as well as the Humane Society of Statesboro, GA in two upcoming projects, so I will be looking for the relationship attitudes of both organizations to see if their relationships to their public and volunteers are strong and effective.


Bortree, D., Waters, R. (2008). Admiring the organization: a study of the relational quality outcomes of the nonprofit organization-volunteer relationship. Public Relations Journal, 2, 1-17   


Entry filed under: Public Relations, Reviews.

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