Quotation Simsa, Ruth, Rameder, Paul, Aghamanoukjan, Anahid, Totter, Marion Christine. 2019. Spontaneous Volunteering in Social Crises: Self-Organization and Coordination. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly. 48 (2S), 103-122.




This article investigates spontaneous volunteering during the social crisis referred to as the “European 2015 refugee crisis.” The situation was politically controversial and the vacuum in humanitarian aid was filled by civil society, including large numbers of spontaneous volunteers (SVs). Based on empirical research, we analyzed the responses and the experiences of SVs working under the auspices of civil society organizations and derived management implications. The findings show that the environment of spontaneous volunteering in social crises differs from that in natural disaster situations. SVs partly substitute official response systems and this results in a high degree of self-organization. Thus, “structured self-organization,” that is finding a suitable complementary relationship between self-organization and coordination, is crucial for the efficiency of SVs’ work, and their satisfaction, well-being, and commitment. Structured self-organization requires (a) fluid structures that enable autonomy, (b) orienting framework conditions, and (c) resources for care and coordination.


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Publication's profile

Status of publication Published
Affiliation WU
Type of publication Journal article
Journal Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly
Citation Index SSCI
WU Journalrating 2009 A
WU-Journal-Rating new INF-A, MAN-A, STRAT-B, VW-C, WH-B
Language English
Title Spontaneous Volunteering in Social Crises: Self-Organization and Coordination
Volume 48
Number 2S
Year 2019
Page from 103
Page to 122
Reviewed? Y
DOI https://doi.org/10.1177/0899764018785472
Open Access N


Simsa, Ruth (Details)
Rameder, Paul (Details)
Aghamanoukjan, Anahid (Former researcher)
Totter, Marion Christine (Details)
Institute for Sociology and Social Research IN (Details)
Research Institute for Cooperation and Cooperatives FI (Details)
Competence Center for Nonprofit Organizations and Social Entrepreneurship WE (Details)
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