Immigrant volunteering: A stepping Stone to integration?

Femida Handy*, Itay Greenspan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

139 Scopus citations


This article investigates volunteering by immigrants. It examines if and how volunteering experiences can attenuate the effects of relocation for immigrants as they seek to regain social and human capital lost in the migration process. Based on analysis of 754 surveys, 33 focus groups, and 34 in-depth interviews, the authors explore the volunteering experiences of immigrants in ethnic congregations in four Canadian cities. Using a grounded theory approach, they propose a conceptual framework that delineates factors at the individual and organizational levels. Although individual-level factors are useful determinants of volunteer participation, for immigrants organizational factors are also an important part of the picture. These factors influence immigrants' volunteer participation rates and the intensity of their participation. The benefits of volunteering include the enhancement of social and human capital, which provides a stepping stone for the integration of immigrants into the host society.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)956-982
Number of pages27
JournalNonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Canada
  • Ethnic congregations
  • Immigrants
  • Volunteering


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