Understanding the not-for-profit sector

Volunteering is at the heart of Jeanne Nel's personal and professional journey

For PhD candidate, Jeanne Nel, volunteering has always been at the core of her personal and professional journey.

“My first exposure to the transformative power of volunteer work was in 1991 with my student volunteering position as the Street Law Coordinator with the Free State University in South Africa. The Street Law initiative is a youth-based community legal education program focusing on human rights and democratic values.”

“After graduating and a stint at the Bar, I took up a position with the National Peace Secretariat in South Africa to support freedom of expression in preparation for the first democratic elections in the country.”

Since 2008, Jeanne has continued her volunteering journey in the not-for-profit sector in Australia.

“During this time, I have observed the many challenges that volunteer organisations face, particularly in recruiting leaders, maintaining diversity, and in navigating the intricacies of the anti-money laundering and terrorist financing framework.”

Jeanne’s PhD, which is centred on the not-for-profit sector, has allowed her to delve deeper into these challenges.

“There is a range of regulatory tools designed to enforce accountability for not-for-profits and volunteer organisations. The regulations are often justified as essential to restore and maintain public trust in charitable organisations. However, substantial empirical evidence demonstrates that they can discourage volunteering at leadership levels.”

“This negatively impacts the sector's ability to fill board positions and pursue their objectives, which is a real concern because not-for-profit organisations and charities play a vital role in Australian society.”

“Ultimately, my research aims to address the need to to ensure appropriate conduct of volunteer charity directors without unduly impeding their operation.”

“I really hope my work will help improve the volunteer sector and support these vital charitable organisations.”