ArticlePDF Available

Abstract and Figures

This article reviews 81 articles that directly tested the effectiveness of volunteer management practices. Many articles measured volunteers' perceptions of the quality of management practices, not the practices themselves, making their utility to volunteer managers limited. Most articles used self-reported, cross-sectional surveys and subjective outcome measures such as satisfaction and intent to continue volunteering. Despite these limitations, current research supports the effectiveness of 11 best practices: liability insurance, clearly defined roles, job design, recruitment strategies, screening and matching, orientation and training, supervision and communication, recognition, satisfying motivations, reflection and peer support. No support has yet been found for three supposed best practices suggested by the practitioner literature: written policies, recordkeeping and individual evaluations. Future studies should use more rigorous methods, including validated measures, external ratings of volunteer effectiveness, field experiments and longitudinal surveys.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Voluntary Sector Review • vol X • no X • X–X • © Policy Press 2018
Print ISSN 2040 8056 • Online ISSN 2040 8064 •
Accepted for publication 23 May 2018 • First published online 12 July 2018
Evidence-based volunteer management:
a review of the literature
Christopher Einolf,
Northern Illinois University, Dekalb, IL, USA
This article reviews 81 articles that directly tested the effectiveness of volunteer management
practices. Many articles measured volunteers’ perceptions of the quality of management practices,
not the practices themselves, making their utility to volunteer managers limited. Most articles
used self-reported, cross-sectional surveys and subjective outcome measures such as satisfaction
and intent to continue volunteering. Despite these limitations, current research supports the
effectiveness of 11 best practices: liability insurance, clearly defined roles, job design, recruitment
strategies, screening and matching, orientation and training, supervision and communication,
recognition, satisfying motivations, reflection and peer support. No support has yet been found
for three supposed best practices suggested by the practitioner literature: written policies, record-
keeping and individual evaluations. Future studies should use more rigorous methods, including
validated measures, external ratings of volunteer effectiveness, field experiments and longitudinal
key words volunteering • non-profit management • volunteer management
Volunteers form an important part of the non-prot labour force and some
organisations are mostly or entirely staed by volunteers. The scholarly community
could help non-prots greatly by giving volunteer managers evidence-tested best
practices for volunteer management. Unfortunately, there is not an extensive scholarly
literature on the subject (Locke et al, 2004; Studer and von Schnurbein, 2013;
Brudney and Meijs, 2014). Most scholarly work focuses on the questions of who
volunteers and why, with the emphasis on the volunteers’ characteristics, not on the
management actions of the non-prots where they work (Musick and Wilson, 2008).
There are a number of volunteer management websites and handbooks, but these
draw primarily on practitioner experiences and advice, not scholarly research. The
practitioner perspective is important and useful, but scholars could add value to this
literature by performing rigorous tests of what are currently considered best practices
and innovating new practices that go against the conventional wisdom. This article
presents an overview of the existing evidence-based research on eective volunteer
management, draws preliminary conclusions for researchers and practitioners, points
out the numerous gaps in current knowledge and suggests future directions for research.
Christopher Einolf
The only prior article to perform a similar review of the literature is Studer and
von Schnurbein’s (2013) paper, ‘Organizational factors aecting volunteers’. Their
review of the literature is comprehensive (387 articles) and their article is well argued
but largely theoretical, as the majority of the articles reviewed did not test whether
particular best practices actually aected volunteer outcomes. Despite the title of
the paper, most of the articles discuss characteristics of volunteers that are outside
of managers’ control, such as their ‘attitudes, implicit assumptions, and expectations’
(Studer and von Schnurbein, 2013: 411) and the section on management practices
is short. Studer and von Schnurbein’s review is valuable and important. This article,
however, focuses on a dierent area: articles that explicitly tested how volunteer
management practices aected outcomes such as volunteer satisfaction, retention,
commitment, hours volunteered and quality of work.
To perform this review of the literature, I searched Google Scholar, PsycINFO and
Sociological Abstracts using keywords such as ‘volunteer management’, ‘volunteer
recruitment’, ‘volunteer retention’, ‘volunteer satisfaction’ and ‘volunteer engagement’.
I also used the Studer and von Schnurbein (2013) review. With each article that I found,
I looked through the references section to search for older articles they cited and I
used Google Scholar to search for new articles citing articles already in the review. I
excluded those that did not test the eects of volunteer management practices using
empirical methods and ended up with 81 articles in all. Excluding articles that did not
test the eects of volunteer management practices involved reading the abstracts of a
large number of articles, and at times reading the articles themselves, before deciding
whether to include them in the review. The nal selection of articles was therefore
somewhat subjective and this is one of the limitations of the review.
This article rst discusses the methods and samples used by the studies in the review
and then discusses the studies themselves. It divides the studies into two groups:
those that used volunteer opinions and attitudes towards management practices as
the independent variable and those that used specic management actions as the
independent variable. It identies 11 best practices that have received research support
and identies several more practices that have not received support. The penultimate
section of the article discusses research on special types of volunteering: volunteering
in small volunteer-run organisations, volunteering in membership associations, public
sector volunteering, episodic volunteering and corporate volunteering. The conclusion
draws implications for managers and makes recommendations for future research.
Methods and samples
The best way to study volunteering is to use a longitudinal method, and a few
studies did this (Davis et al, 2003; Tang et al, 2010; Beirne and Lambin, 2013), but
most studies used cross-sectional methods. Some of these attempted to make causal
claims by using structural equation modelling (Farmer and Fedor, 1999; Grube and
Piliavin, 2000; Vecina and Chacón, 2005; Costa et al, 2006; Boezeman and Ellemers,
2007; Kim et al, 2007; Waters and Bortree, 2007; Tang et al, 2010; Dwiggins-Beeler
et al, 2011; Vecina et al, 2012; Huynh et al, 2012; Allen and Mueller, 2013; Dwyer
et al, 2013; Alfes et al, 2016). Most used self-reported surveys given to convenience
samples of volunteers.
Six articles surveyed volunteer programme managers, not the volunteers themselves,
and looked for correlations between management practices and managers’ perceptions
Evidence-based volunteer management
of positive volunteer outcomes (Hager and Brudney, 2004, 2015; Cuskelly et al,
2006; Stirling et al, 2011; Studer, 2015; Rogers et al, 2016). These outcomes included
retention alone (Hager and Brudney, 2004; Cuskelly et al, 2006), both recruitment
and retention (Stirling et al, 2011; Hager and Brudney, 2015; Studer, 2015) and
client satisfaction (Rogers et al, 2016). Two of these articles used a large, nationally
representative random sample (N = 1,354) of non-prot organisations in the United
States (Hager and Brudney, 2004, 2015) and the other four respectively used a sample
of Australian volunteer rugby clubs (Cuskelly et al, 2006), a sample of American
hospitals (Rogers et al, 2016), a selective sample of Australian non-prots (Stirling
et al, 2011) and a representative sample of Swiss non-prots (Studer, 2015). Table 1
provides a summary of the studies, classied by method of analysis, dependent variables
and independent variables.
Table 1: Studies classified by method, dependent variables and independent variables
Study type Studies
longitudinal survey
Davis et al, 2003; Tang et al, 2010; Beirne and Lambin, 2013
Method: structural
equation modelling
Farmer and Fedor, 1999; Grube and Piliavin, 2000; Vecina and Chacón, 2005;
Costa et al, 2006; Boezeman and Ellemers, 2007; Kim et al, 2007; Waters and
Bortree, 2007; Peloza et al, 2009; Tang et al, 2010; Dwiggins-Beeler et al, 2011;
Vecina et al, 2012; Huynh et al, 2012; Allen and Mueller, 2013; Dwyer et al,
2013; Haivas et al, 2013; Van Schie et al, 2015; Alfes et al, 2016; Malinen and
Harju, 2017
Method: cross-
correlations and
Nelson et al, 1995; Cnaan and Cascio, 1998; Farmer and Fedor, 2001; Hager
and Brudney, 2004; Peterson, 2004; Finkelstein et al, 2005; Wisner et al, 2005;
Cuskelly et al, 2006; Hellman and House, 2006; Hobson and Heler, 2007;
Kulik, 2007; Caldwell et al, 2008; Finkelstein, 2008; Karl et al, 2008; Millette
and Gagné, 2008; Booth et al, 2009; Hidalgo and Moreno, 2009; Hustinx and
Handy, 2009; Stukas et al, 2009; Tang et al, 2009; Garner and Garner, 2011;
Stirling et al, 2011; Gazley, 2012; Nesbit and Gazley, 2012; Dwyer et al, 2013;
Østerlund, 2013; Presti, 2013; Vecina et al, 2013; Hager, 2014; Newton et al,
2014; Gatignon-Turnau and Mignonac, 2015; Hager and Brudney, 2015; Studer,
2015; Erasmus and Morey, 2016; Hyde et al, 2016; Nencini et al, 2016; Rogers et
al, 2016
Method: experiment Clary et al, 1994; Fisher and Ackerman, 1998; Boezeman and Ellemers, 2007,
2014a, 2014b
Dependent variable:
intent to continue
Farmer and Fedor, 1999; Grube and Piliavin, 2000; Vecina and Chacón, 2005;
Wisner et al, 2005; Hellman and House, 2006; Kim et al, 2007; Karl et al, 2008;
Millette and Gagné, 2008; Hidalgo and Moreno, 2009; Stukas et al, 2009;
Dwiggins-Beeler et al, 2011; Gazley, 2012; Huynh et al, 2012; Allen and Mueller,
2013; Vecina et al, 2013; Newton et al, 2014; Hyde et al, 2016; Nencini et al,
variable: volunteer
Cnaan and Cascio, 1998; Boezeman and Ellemers, 2014a; Costa et al, 2006;
Hellman and House, 2006; Hobson and Heler, 2007; Kulik, 2007; Craig-Lees et al,
2008; Finkelstein, 2008; Karl et al, 2008; Stukas et al, 2009; Dwiggins-Beeler et
al, 2011; Garner and Garner, 2011; Vecina et al, 2012; Dwyer et al, 2013; Nencini
et al, 2016
Dependent variable:
time volunteered
Cnaan and Cascio, 1998; Farmer and Fedor, 1999, 2001; Grube and Piliavin, 2000;
Jamison, 2003; Finkelstein et al, 2005; Waters and Bortree, 2007; Craig-Lees et
al, 2008; Finkelstein, 2008; Randle and Dolnicar, 2009
Christopher Einolf
Studies of volunteer opinions and attitudes about organisations
One type of study uses measures of volunteers’ opinions, traits and attitudes towards the
organisation where they volunteer and relates these measures to dependent variables.
Commonly used independent variables include commitment, engagement and
satisfaction with management actions. Commonly used dependent variables include
intent to continue volunteering and hours volunteered. Volunteer satisfaction is often
included as a dependent variable and is also used as an intermediate variable between
some other construct and hours volunteered or intention to continue.
Dependent variables: The most commonly used dependent variable among the studies
reviewed was intent to continue volunteering, used in 18 studies (Farmer and Fedor, 1999;
Grube and Piliavin, 2000; Vecina and Chacón, 2005; Wisner et al, 2005; Hellman and
House, 2006; Kim et al, 2007; Karl et al, 2008; Millette and Gagné, 2008; Hidalgo and
Moreno, 2009; Stukas et al, 2009; Dwiggins-Beeler et al, 2011; Gazley, 2012; Huynh
et al, 2012; Allen and Mueller, 2013; Vecina et al, 2013; Newton et al, 2014; Hyde et
al, 2016; Nencini et al, 2016). Subjective intent to continue volunteering suers from
social desirability bias and the other problems associated with self-reported survey
questions. A more eective variable would be a measure of actual volunteer retention
in a longitudinal survey, but only three studies used this research strategy (Davis et al,
2003; Tang et al, 2010; Beirne and Lambin, 2013).
The next most commonly used dependent variable was volunteer satisfaction, which
was used in 15 studies as either a dependent or an intermediate variable (Cnaan and
Cascio, 1998; Boezeman and Ellemers, 2014a; Costa et al, 2006; Hellman and House,
2006; Hobson and Heler, 2007; Kulik, 2007; Craig-Lees et al, 2008; Finkelstein,
2008; Karl et al, 2008; Stukas et al, 2009; Dwiggins-Beeler et al, 2011; Garner and
Garner, 2011; Vecina et al, 2012; Dwyer et al, 2013; Nencini et al, 2016). There was
no generally accepted measurement of volunteer satisfaction. Some authors used
single-item measures (Hellman and House, 2006; Hobson and Heler, 2007; Stukas
et al, 2009) and some generated their own multiple-item scales (Cnaan and Cascio,
1998; Craig-Lees et al, 2008). Some modied existing scales of satisfaction with paid
employment for use with volunteers (Costa et al, 2006; Kulik, 2007; Karl et al, 2008;
Study type Studies
Dependent variable:
Nelson et al, 1995; Maslanka, 1996; Kulik, 2007
variable: quality of
volunteers’ work
Caldwell et al, 2008; Millette and Gagné, 2008; Rogelberg et al, 2010; Rogers et
al, 2016
variable: continued
Davis et al, 2003; Tang et al, 2010; Beirne and Lambin, 2013
variable: volunteer
Huynh et al, 2012; Vecina et al, 2012; Haivas et al, 2013; Van Schie et al, 2015;
Alfes et al, 2016
Nelson et al, 1995; Costa et al, 2006; Vecina et al, 2012, 2013
Evidence-based volunteer management
Nencini et al, 2016) and two others took dierent volunteer satisfaction scales from
earlier research on volunteers (Finkelstein, 2008; Dwyer et al, 2013).
Galindo-Kuhn and Guzley (2002) developed a ‘Volunteer Satisfaction Index’,
which two later studies used (Dwiggins-Beeler et al, 2011; Garner and Garner, 2011).
This index is divided into four subscales: organisational support, empowerment,
participation ecacy and group integration. The last two of these subscales signicantly
predict intent to remain. Despite the existence of Galindo-Kuhn and Guzley’s
measure, Vecina et al (2009) developed a measure that they also named the ‘Volunteer
Satisfaction Index’, which has three subscales: motivation, task and management
support. Vecina et al (2012) used their scale in a subsequent article but no other
scholars have adopted it.
Scholars use satisfaction as a dependent variable on the assumption that satised
volunteers will do better work, work more hours and be less likely to quit. In general,
studies found moderate-to-strong correlations (r values between .35 and .84) between
satisfaction and intent to remain (Hellman and House, 2006; Hobson and Heler,
2007; Karl et al, 2008; Dwiggins-Beeler et al, 2011; Garner and Garner, 2011; Vecina
et al, 2012; Hyde et al, 2016; Nencini et al, 2016). However, studies found only
non-signicant (Nencini et al, 2016) or weak (r between .16 and .36) correlations
between satisfaction and hours volunteered (Finkelstein et al, 2005; Craig-Lees et al,
2008; Finkelstein, 2008).
The third most commonly used dependent variable was time volunteered, used in 10
studies (Cnaan and Cascio, 1998; Farmer and Fedor, 1999, 2001; Grube and Piliavin,
2000; Jamison, 2003; Finkelstein et al, 2005; Waters and Bortree, 2007; Craig-Lees et
al, 2008; Finkelstein, 2008; Randle and Dolnicar, 2009). Other dependent variables
included burnout (Nelson et al, 1995; Maslanka, 1996; Kulik, 2007), organisational
citizenship behaviours (Van Schie et al, 2015) and recruiting others (Dwiggins-Beeler et
al, 2011).
Retaining volunteers and getting more of their time are worthwhile goals, but
if volunteer managers want to know how to get higher-quality work from their
volunteers, the literature has little to tell them. Only four studies used external ratings
of volunteer performance as dependent variables: three used supervisors’ or colleagues’
ratings of volunteers’ eectiveness (Caldwell et al, 2008; Millette and Gagné, 2008;
Rogelberg et al, 2010) and one measured client satisfaction with hospital volunteers
(Rogers et al, 2016).
Independent variables: Many studies used measurements of volunteers’ motivations
and attitudes as predictors of good volunteering outcomes, either as independent
variables or as intermediate variables in structural equation modelling. One of the
more popular independent variables was organisational commitment, the subject of ve
studies. Four of these (Nelson et al, 1995; Costa et al, 2006; Vecina et al, 2012, 2013)
used a measure taken from the literature on commitment in paid employment. This
scale uses a set of seven-point agree/disagree statements such as ‘I take an interest in
the organisation’s future’, ‘I nd that the organisation’s values are similar to my own’
and ‘I am proud to say that I am a part of this organisation’; the scale has a Cronbach’s
alpha of .89 (Vecina et al, 2013).
Similar to organisational commitment is the measure of volunteer engagement, an
independent variable in ve studies (Huynh et al, 2012; Vecina et al, 2012; Haivas et
al, 2013; Van Schie et al, 2015; Alfes et al, 2016). All ve studies used measures adapted
from the literature on paid employment. Three used an adaptation of the Utrecht
Christopher Einolf
Work Engagement Scale (Huynh et al, 2012; Vecina et al, 2012; Van Schie et al, 2015)
and the other two adapted dierent scales designed to measure engagement in paid
work. Sample items from the adapted Utrecht Work Engagement Scale are: ‘At my
volunteer work, I feel bursting with energy’, ‘I am enthusiastic about my work’ and
‘Time ies when I am working’ (Huynh et al, 2012: 881–2).
Other measures of volunteer attitudes included:
pride in the organisation (Boezeman and Ellemers, 2014b);
sense of community (Costa et al, 2006);
empowerment (Farmer and Fedor, 1999; Kim et al, 2007);
self-ecacy (Farmer and Fedor, 1999; Hellman and House, 2006);
trust (Waters and Bortree, 2007);
positive emotions (Vecina and Chacón, 2005);
having fun (Karl et al, 2008).
Subjective measures of the quality of the organisation’s actions included:
perceived organisational support (Farmer and Fedor, 1999; Garner and Garner,
satisfaction with communication (Dwiggins-Beeler et al, 2011);
feeling respected by volunteer managers (Boezeman and Ellemers, 2014b);
satisfaction with managers (Kim et al, 2007);
person–organisation t (Kim et al, 2007);
involvement in decision making (Studer, 2015; Nencini et al, 2016);
relationship with the board (Nencini et al, 2016).
All of the studies mentioned above took a similar approach to measuring and testing
volunteer management practices. They dened measures of volunteer attitudes
and opinions, such as engagement and organisational commitment, and correlated
them with measures of outcomes, such as satisfaction or intent to remain. The more
sophisticated articles used structural equation modelling to make statements about
possible causality and mediating variables.
The articles generally found positive correlations among the constructs used. Three
examples help to illustrate this. Alfes et al (2016) found that organisational support,
volunteer engagement, volunteer happiness and intent to remain were all positively
correlated, and that engagement acted as a mediator in their structural equation model.
Dwiggins-Beeler et al (2011) found that satisfaction with communication correlated
positively with satisfaction in general, which correlated with intent to remain and
recruiting others to volunteer. Farmer and Fedor (1999) found that having one’s
expectations met and perceived organisational support correlated with a volunteer’s
level of participation and intent to continue volunteering.
These three studies and others like them achieved positive and statistically signicant
results, but they suered from the problems of being obvious and lacking utility to
volunteer managers. In regard to obviousness, it is hardly surprising that one type of
positive opinion about an organisation correlates with another. One would expect
that volunteers who perceived their organisation as being supportive would also be
happy (Alfes et al, 2016) and would be more likely to intend to continue volunteering
Evidence-based volunteer management
(Farmer and Fedor, 1999). The hypothesis that all good things go together is not
dicult to support.
More problematic than the obviousness of these studies is their lack of utility to
volunteer managers. Telling volunteer managers that volunteers who perceive their
organisation to be more supportive are more likely to continue volunteering is not
useful unless you can tell volunteer managers what specically they should do to
support their volunteers. The same critique applies to the other subjective measures
used in these studies, such as organisational commitment, volunteer engagement,
pride in the organisation and feeling respected. Unless scholars can tell managers how
best to instil these attitudes and opinions in volunteers, advising them to do so is not
useful. The next section discusses a more useful approach: testing whether specic
management practices correlate with positive volunteer outcomes.
Studies of management practices
This section reviews 11 practices that the research has found to correlate with positive
volunteer outcomes and then describes several practices that research has not yet found
to correlate with positive outcomes. Most of the practices tested are components of
the human resources management (HRM) model of volunteer management, which
is the model most commonly used in both the practitioner and academic literature.
The HRM model treats volunteers as similar to unpaid employees and recommends
that non-prots use professional HRM tools to supervise them. Much of the literature
on the HRM model takes a ‘universalistic’ approach, recommending that non-prots
follow a single set of best practices regardless of size, number of volunteers, tasks or
mission (Brudney and Meijs, 2014). Only recently have scholars begun to consider
whether non-prots should adopt dierent aspects of the HRM model strategically
and adapt it to an organisation’s individual characteristics and environment (Hager
and Brudney, 2015).
Many versions of the HRM model have been proposed over the years (Safrit and
Schmiesing, 2012), with some variation in the best practices recommended, but a
recent review of the dierent models ‘shows that they are quite similar, grounded
in a set of core functions that volunteer programs typically perform, including
selection, orientation, job design, training, placement, and evaluation’ (Brudney and
Meijs, 2009: 567). A practical guide based on the HRM model makes the following
recommendations for managing volunteers (Brudney, 2012):
Plan a volunteer programme carefully by considering the costs and benets of
participation, setting reasonable expectations, establishing a rationale and goals
and involving paid sta in the programme’s design.
Write policies for volunteer management.
Purchase liability insurance for volunteers.
Designate who will manage volunteers.
Create written job descriptions.
Recruit volunteers.
Interview potential volunteers to screen out undesirable volunteers and to match
volunteers with suitable assignments.
Hold an initial orientation and training programme for volunteers.
Give follow-up training and professional development opportunities.
Christopher Einolf
Keep records of volunteer hours and activities.
Supervise and communicate frequently with volunteers.
Evaluate volunteers’ individual performance and evaluate the volunteer
programme as a whole.
Recognise volunteers’ contributions.
This section reports 11 best practices that have received empirical support in scientic
studies. The rst eight best practices on the list come from the HRM model and
the last three come from other models. The last subsection in this section discusses
supposed best practices that have not received empirical support. Table 2 summarises
the 11 best practices and the articles that support them.
Table 2: Empirically supported best practices in volunteer management
Best practice Articles supporting the practice
Get liability insurance
for volunteers
Hager and Brudney, 2015; Studer, 2015
Clearly define
volunteers’ roles
Nelson et al, 1995; Kulik, 2007; Hidalgo and Moreno, 2009; Allen and
Mueller, 2013
Design good volunteer
Grube and Piliavin, 2000; Jamison, 2003; Wisner et al, 2005; Hobson and
Heler, 2007; Kulik, 2007; Millette and Gagné, 2008; Hidalgo and Moreno,
2009; Dwyer et al, 2013; Van Schie et al, 2015
Recruit volunteers Clary et al, 1994, 1998; Fisher and Ackerman, 1998; Boezeman and Ellemers,
2007, 2014a, 2014b; Østerlund, 2013
Screen and match
Hager and Brudney, 2004; Cuskelly et al, 2006; Kim et al, 2007; Caldwell et
al, 2008; Studer, 2015
Give new volunteers
orientation and training
Farmer and Fedor, 1999; Jamison, 2003; Hager and Brudney, 2004; Wisner et
al, 2005; Caldwell et al, 2008; Hidalgo and Moreno, 2009; Tang et al, 2010;
Newton et al, 2014
communicate with and
support volunteers
Cnaan and Cascio, 1998; Farmer and Fedor, 1999; Hager and Brudney, 2004,
2015; Hobson and Heler, 2007; Kim et al, 2007; Hidalgo and Moreno, 2009;
Dwiggins-Beeler et al, 2011; Hill and Stevens, 2011; Huynh et al, 2012;
Studer, 2015; Alfes et al, 2016
Recognise volunteer
Canaan and Cascio, 1998; Hager and Brudney, 2004, 2015; Wisner et al,
2005; Cuskelly et al, 2006; Kulik, 2007; Studer, 2015
Satisfy volunteers’
Clary et al, 1994, 1998; Farmer and Fedor, 2001; Davis et al, 2003;
Finkelstein et al, 2005; Finkelstein, 2008; Randle and Dolnicar, 2009; Stukas
et al, 2009; Haivas et al, 2013; Erasmus and Morey, 2016; Hyde et al, 2016;
Nencini et al, 2016
Encourage reflection Wisner et al, 2005
Encourage a supportive
Farmer and Fedor, 2001; Wisner et al, 2005; Boezeman and Ellemers, 2007;
Hidalgo and Moreno, 2009; Hustinx and Handy, 2009; Garner and Garner,
2011; Huynh et al, 2012; Dwyer et al, 2013; Presti, 2013; Alfes et al, 2016;
Hyde et al, 2016; Nencini et al, 2016
Evidence-based volunteer management
Get liability insurance for volunteers
Volunteers may worry about their legal liability, so getting liability insurance may
assuage this concern and encourage people to both start and continue volunteering.
While Hager and Brudney (2004) found that liability insurance did not correlate
with a single-item measure of whether an organisation had problems recruiting and
retaining volunteers, Studer (2015) found that non-prots that gave their volunteers
liability insurance scored slightly but signicantly higher on aggregate measures of
success in volunteer recruitment and retention. Hager and Brudney (2015) found
that liability insurance correlated with retention but not with recruitment.
Clearly define volunteers’ roles
The mere existence of job descriptions does not correlate with positive volunteer
outcomes (Hager and Brudney, 2004; Rogelberg et al, 2010; Stirling et al, 2011;
Studer, 2015). However, well-written job descriptions can be helpful, as volunteers
like having clearly dened roles and dislike role ambiguity. Volunteers who felt that
their roles were clearly dened expressed more satisfaction with their experience
(Kulik, 2007) and volunteered for a longer time (Tang et al, 2009). Conversely, role
ambiguity and role conict correlated with feelings of burnout (Nelson et al, 1995;
Kulik, 2007; Allen and Mueller, 2013), lower levels of commitment (Nelson et al,
1995) and greater intention to quit (Allen and Mueller, 2013). Volunteers who said
they understood their roles and the organisation’s goals were more likely to intend
to continue volunteering (Hidalgo and Moreno, 2009).
Design good volunteer jobs
Volunteers who said they had high-quality jobs were more likely to feel satised
with their volunteer work (Hobson and Heler, 2007; Kulik, 2007). Feeling that
their volunteer work was meaningful (Dwyer et al, 2013) and that it contributed to
the good of clients and the organisation (Grube and Piliavin, 2000) correlated with
volunteer satisfaction. Feeling that their volunteer tasks were challenging correlated
with a higher intent to remain (Jamison, 2003). Autonomy and a exible schedule
were two other job design features that predicted intent to continue volunteering
(Wisner et al, 2005).
Two authors tried to construct a comprehensive measure of volunteer job quality.
One model proposed ve task characteristics: variety, carrying out a complete process,
autonomy, signicance and receiving feedback (Hobson and Heler, 2007; Van Schie
et al, 2015). One study found that volunteers who said that their jobs had these
characteristics were more engaged in their work and undertook more organisational
citizenship behaviours (Van Schie et al, 2015). Another found less robust results: while
all ve characteristics predicted job satisfaction, only task signicance predicted intent
to remain, and only skill variety and autonomy predicted quality of work (Millette
and Gagné, 2008).
A second comprehensive measure rated a volunteer job as good if it had eight
Christopher Einolf
(1) the job involves several non-repetitive tasks; (2) the job involves a complete
process; (3) tasks are chosen by oneself; (4) jobs have clearly dened objectives;
(5) the ultimate purpose of the job is known; (6) the job is useful for others;
(7) the job can be done with great autonomy; [and] (8) the job requires
cooperation with others. (Hidalgo and Moreno, 2009: 598)
Hidalgo and Moreno’s (2009) model incorporated four of the ve components of
Hobson and Heler’s model: variety, complete process, autonomy and signicance; only
feedback was missing. The eight questions in Hidalgo and Moreno’s (2009) model
correlated at Cronbach’s alpha = .80 and predicted intent to continue volunteering.
Recruit volunteers
Several laboratory experiments, in which subjects stated how hypothetically likely
they would be to volunteer, have suggested some best practices for recruitment. Two
studies found that matching recruitment messages to potential volunteers’ motives
made them more likely to volunteer (Clary et al, 1994, 1998). Another found that
subjects were more open to being recruited to hypothetical non-prots when they
anticipated feeling pride in the organisation, anticipated being treated with respect
and sensed that the organisation was open to newcomers (Boezeman and Ellemers,
2007, 2014a).
Recruiting a diverse workforce of volunteers is more eective when organisations
acknowledge and point out the value of diversity. In a laboratory experiment
(Boezeman and Ellemers, 2014b), male college students were asked if they would
be interested in volunteering for a childcare organisation in which the majority of
volunteers were older women. When the recruitment materials emphasised the need
for young male volunteers to act as role models for the children, the young men were
signicantly more interested.
Volunteers are often recruited by word of mouth and current volunteers are an
essential resource for recruiting new volunteers. One study found that volunteers
were more likely to recruit others when they felt a sense of psychological ownership
of their organisation (Boezeman and Ellemers, 2014b), but it did not specify how to
create this sense of ownership. A second study begins to answer this question: using
data from surveys of 5,203 Danish voluntary sport organisations, it found that involving
members in major decisions, delegating decision making and tasks, recognising
volunteers through material incentives and perks, having a recruitment strategy
and using electronic communications all correlated with successful recruitment
(Østerlund, 2013).
A eld experiment with parent volunteers in children’s football leagues found
interesting results. Parents were told that there was either a great or a small need for
volunteers, and either were promised a t-shirt to recognise their contribution or were
promised no recognition. Neither a great need for volunteers nor the recognition
gift by themselves was enough to increase volunteering, but potential volunteers
who were told there was a great need and were promised recognition volunteered at
signicantly higher rates and for signicantly more hours (Fisher and Ackerman, 1998).
Evidence-based volunteer management
Screen and match volunteers
In three studies, organisations that reported that they put more eort into screening
and matching volunteers were more likely to have good results in terms of retention
and recruitment (Hager and Brudney, 2004; Rogelberg et al, 2010; Studer, 2015),
but a fourth study found no relationship (Cuskelly et al, 2006). The value of eective
placement is supported by the work of Kim et al (2007), who found that measures of
person-task t predicted intention to continue volunteering. A study of volunteers
serving on the local executive committees of a health advocacy non-prot found that
local chapters that used good selection methods recruited volunteers who performed
better in third-party measures of work quality (Caldwell et al, 2008).
Give new volunteers orientation and training
Among the studies reviewed, orientation and training correlated with higher
volunteer retention (Hager and Brudney, 2004; Wisner et al, 2005; Hidalgo and
Moreno, 2009; Newton et al, 2014), more hours volunteered (Farmer and Fedor,
1999) and a longer duration of volunteer participation (Tang et al, 2009). Two studies
found that orientation and training correlated with higher-quality volunteer work
(Rogelberg et al, 2010; Tang et al, 2010) but another found no relationship to work
quality (Caldwell et al, 2008). Only one article distinguished between pre-service
and in-service training; it found that both predicted retention (Jamison, 2003). All of
these studies used simple ratings of the amount or quality of orientation and training
given; no studies told managers what best practices they should follow in delivering
orientation and training.
Supervise, communicate with and support volunteers
Many studies showed that volunteers who had positive perceptions of the supervision,
communication and support they received from the organisation volunteered more
hours and were more likely to continue volunteering (Cnaan and Cascio, 1998; Farmer
and Fedor, 1999; Hobson and Heler, 2007; Kim et al, 2007; Hidalgo and Moreno,
2009; Dwiggins-Beeler et al, 2011; Huynh et al, 2012; Studer, 2015; Alfes et al, 2016).
Because they used simple subjective measures of volunteers’ perceptions, without
details about what management actions led volunteers to have these perceptions,
these studies do little to help volunteer managers do their jobs more eectively. In
eect, they state that good management leads to good outcomes, without informing
volunteer managers about what good management consists of.
One interesting clue comes from two studies, which found that the more often
volunteer managers communicated with and supervised volunteers, the more trouble
they had recruiting and retaining them (Hager and Brudney, 2004, 2015). This
somewhat surprising nding can perhaps be explained by the dierence between
volunteers’ and volunteer managers’ perceptions of the nature of supervision.
Volunteers may prefer a light touch in management and communication that oers
them autonomy, while volunteer managers may overdo it out of a felt need to maintain
communication and exercise control.
The question of the best management structure for volunteers remains largely
unresearched, but a recent article studied the dierences between paid and volunteer
Christopher Einolf
managers of volunteers. Compared with their paid counterparts, volunteer managers
of volunteers were more likely to work in smaller organisations and were less likely
to adopt formal HRM management practices such as written policies, written job
descriptions, orientation and training (Hill and Stevens, 2011).
Recognise volunteer contributions
In general, recognition eorts lead to positive outcomes. Volunteers who reported
being satised with how they were thanked and recognised reported more satisfaction
with volunteering (Wisner et al, 2005; Kulik, 2007) and had a stronger intent to
continue volunteering (Wisner et al, 2005). Three studies found that non-prots
that made more use of volunteer recognition activities reported fewer problems
recruiting and retaining more volunteers (Hager and Brudney, 2004, 2015; Studer,
2015), although one study found no signicant relationship (Cuskelly et al, 2006).
Only one study (Canaan and Cascio, 1998) examined specic types of volunteer
recognition. Nearly all recognition activities – including thank-you letters, certicates
of appreciation, prizes, organised trips, parties, in-house lectures, newsletter publicity,
luncheons, annual dinners, service pins, free parking, free meals and free medical
services – correlated with higher volunteer satisfaction. Only the following three
did not signicantly predict satisfaction: awards, the opportunity to participate in
conferences and media publicity. Prizes, conference participation, free meals and free
medical services also correlated with hours volunteered.
Satisfy volunteers’ motivations
Some articles examined how the strength and nature of volunteer motivations and
the ability of organisations to satisfy those motivations correlated with volunteer
satisfaction, commitment and retention. Most used the Volunteer Functions Inventory
(VFI) (Clary et al, 1998), which measures six motivations for volunteering: building
career skills, enhancing self-esteem, protecting oneself from negative emotions,
social interaction, understanding others and prosocial values. Two studies found that
recruitment eorts were more eective if they included messages that accurately
targeted volunteer motives (Clary et al, 1994, 1998). Support for the importance
of motivations in retention and hours volunteered was mixed, with some studies
nding little correlation between motive strength and fullment and positive
outcomes (Finkelstein et al, 2005; Finkelstein, 2008), but others nding some support
for motive fullment (Clary et al, 1998; Farmer and Fedor, 2001; Davis et al, 2003;
Erasmus and Morey, 2016). A system that used all six VFI motivations and weighted
them to account for the interaction between their level of importance and fullment
also found a positive correlation between motive fullment and positive outcomes
(Stukas et al, 2009).
Four studies that used dierent measures of motivation than the VFI also found
connections between particular motives or motive fullment and positive outcomes.
One found that volunteers who were motivated by an intrinsic sense of enjoyment
were more likely to intend to continue volunteering (Nencini et al, 2016). A second
study found that the fullment of the need for autonomy, competence and relatedness
correlated strongly with work engagement and intent to remain (Haivas et al, 2013).
In a third study, episodic volunteers for sports fundraising events were more likely to
Evidence-based volunteer management
return to the next event if they were motivated by a desire for socialisation and fun
and by others’ expectations that they would continue volunteering (Hyde et al, 2016).
A fourth study found that high-contributing volunteers had stronger motivations
than low contributors, particularly self-interested motivations such as the desire for
social contact and the desire to feel like they were doing a good job (Randle and
Dolnicar, 2009).
Encourage reflection
Wisner et al (2005) found that the single strongest predictor of intent to continue
volunteering was encouraging volunteers to take time out for reection. The authors
dened reection as ‘a way to help volunteers make sense of their experiences – both
positive and negative – as they help to accomplish the organisation’s mission’ (Wisner
et al, 2005: 148) and a way to integrate their experiences with their own knowledge,
attitudes, beliefs and previous experience. Reection provides volunteers with an
opportunity to think consciously about their experiences with others, to examine their
own values and beliefs and to develop problem-solving skills. Wisner et al’s paper is
the only one to date that tests the value of reection as a best practice but the strong
positive correlation between reection and intent to continue volunteering justies
its consideration as a subject for future research.
Encourage a supportive environment
Several studies examined the social relationships among volunteers or the social
attachment and identication between volunteers and their organisation. Volunteers
who reported strong support from and a good relationship with other volunteers
donated more time (Farmer and Fedor, 2001), did better work (Rogelberg et al,
2010) and were more likely to continue volunteering (Wisner et al, 2005; Hidalgo
and Moreno, 2009; Garner and Garner, 2011; Huynh et al, 2012; Dwyer et al, 2013;
Alfes et al, 2016; Nencini et al, 2016). In addition to the social support and friendly
interactions that may make volunteers happier, close relationships with peers can lead
to the development of external norms and shared values that make volunteers feel an
obligation to continue (Hyde et al, 2016; Nencini et al, 2016). Finally, volunteers may
identify with and feel a sense of attachment to an organisation that causes them to feel
satised and to keep volunteering (Hustinx and Handy, 2009). Volunteers who felt a
sense of pride in their organisation and felt like the organisation respected them were
more likely to intend to remain volunteers and had a higher level of commitment
Boezeman and Ellemers (2007).
Hidalgo and Moreno (2009) compared the eect of HRM practices and peer
relationships in the same study and found that peer relationships were a slightly better
predictor of intent to remain. HRM practices such as a well-designed job (r = .36),
training (.19) and understanding how one’s volunteer role ts into the organisation’s
mission (.26) correlated positively but weakly with intent to remain. Organisational
support (.33) and peer support (.29) correlated at about the same level and the quality
of relationships with fellow volunteers (.47) correlated at the highest level. Presti
(2013) found that social support from peers and supervisors and task support from
supervisors correlated with job satisfaction and intent to remain at about the same
level. Thus, the evidence from these two studies shows that relationships with fellow
Christopher Einolf
volunteers seem to be at least as important as task support from supervisors and may
be even more important in predicting positive volunteer outcomes.
Unsupported best practices
The non-prot management literature recommends a few ‘best practices’ for which
studies so far have not provided support. This does not necessarily mean that these
practices do not actually work, as it may only be that the practices have not yet been
adequately tested. Nevertheless, two studies have found that having written policies
for the use of volunteers has no relationship with being able to recruit and retain
volunteers (Hager and Brudney, 2004; Stirling et al, 2011). The best practice of keeping
detailed records of volunteer hours and activities may be useful for the organisation’s
own objectives but has had either no relationship (Hager and Brudney, 2004; Studer,
2015) or a negative relationship (Stirling et al, 2011) with volunteer outcomes. The
best practice of evaluating individual volunteers has only been tested once, and no
correlation was found with volunteer recruitment and retention (Stirling et al, 2011).
The value of evaluating the entire volunteer programme has never been tested.
Another model, psychological contract theory, has potential but has yet to receive
empirical support. According to psychological contract theory (Stirling et al, 2011),
volunteers do not expect to be treated just like paid employees, but expect that their
volunteer experience will meet their emotional and relational needs. While never
stated in writing, this expectation is part of the psychological contract that volunteers
make with the agencies they work with. Because they value emotional and relational
needs, volunteers want ‘appreciation and a caring management approach’ that is
‘limited in autocratic and bureaucratic interactions’ (Stirling et al, 2011: 324). However,
non-prots are becoming more professionalised in their volunteer management
practices, focusing on issues of internal controls, training and accountability rather
than emotions and relationships. As non-prots become more professional and
bureaucratic, volunteers may feel that their psychological contract to receive care,
connection and support is being violated, which may cause them to feel dissatised
with their experience and quit volunteering.
To test psychological contract theory, Stirling et al (2011) surveyed 152 organisations
in Australia, testing whether a set of six HRM best practices taken from Hager and
Brudney (2004), and a set of relational best practices derived from psychological
contract theory, predicted whether organisations had adequate numbers of volunteers.
None of the HRM best practices had a positive relationship with having enough
volunteers and only one of the relational best practices – having a volunteer newsletter
– had a positive relationship. Further research is needed to test the value of the
psychological contract model.
Special types of volunteering
Most of the articles listed above tested volunteers in non-prot organisations in which
the majority of workers were paid sta. A smaller number of articles tested volunteer
management practices within small volunteer-run organisations, membership
associations and government agencies; other literatures explored episodic volunteering
and corporate volunteering. Table 3 summarises the articles that describe best practices
for these special types of volunteering.
Evidence-based volunteer management
Volunteering in small volunteer-run organisations
Small all-volunteer organisations – such as sports, leisure and hobby groups, self-help
organisations and neighbourhood action groups – probably make up the majority of
non-prots (Smith, 1997). However, there is almost no published literature on the
nature of eective management practices in these groups. One article (Barnes and
Sharpe, 2009) studied an all-volunteer organisation that organised leisure activities
in a public park, thus constituting an interactional organisation under public
supervision. The organisation did not comply with the HRM model at all, but
instead integrated its programmes with volunteers’ values, passions and interests and
adopted an informal structure that allowed for maximum volunteer autonomy. This
approach was particularly successful, as the leisure organisation had many volunteers
and its programmes were popular with park users. More qualitative research on small
volunteer groups would be a much-needed addition to the volunteer management
Volunteering in membership associations
Only a few studies have covered volunteering in membership associations and most
of these looked at volunteers’ demographic characteristics and motivations, not at
management actions (Gazley, 2012; Nesbit and Gazley, 2012; Hager, 2014). However,
one useful study found that many members of professional associations performed
volunteer work that was not formally recognised by their association (Gazley and
Brudney, 2014). As recognised volunteers reported more engagement and satisfaction
than unrecognised ones, the study shows that associations should work harder to
document and recognise their members’ contributions.
Public sector volunteering
While most scholars associate volunteers with the non-prot sector, public sector
volunteers, most of whom work for local government bodies, make up about 25 to
30% of the volunteer labour force in the United States. State and local government
agencies tend to use fewer best management practices than non-prot organisations
(Brudney and Kellough, 2000; Gazley and Brudney, 2005; Choudhury, 2010). The only
study to examine whether HRM best practices correlated with positive outcomes
in the public sector found that most of these practices did positively correlate with
Table 3: Special types of volunteering
Type of volunteering Articles
Volunteering in small
volunteer-run organisations
Barnes and Sharpe, 2009
Volunteering in membership
Gazley, 2012; Nesbit and Gazley, 2012; Gazley and Brudney, 2014;
Hager, 2014
Public sector volunteering Brudney, 1999; Brudney and Kellough, 2000; Brudney and Gazley, 2002;
Gazley and Brudney, 2005; Choudhury, 2010; Dover, 2010; McBride et
al, 2011; Nesbit et al, 2012
Episodic volunteering Hyde et al, 2016
Corporate volunteering Petersen, 2004; Booth et al, 2009; Peloza et al, 2009; Grant, 2012;
Gatignon-Turnau and Mignonac , 2015; Malinen and Harju, 2017
Christopher Einolf
perceived benets of using volunteers. Best practices with a statistically signicant
and positive eect included written policies, liability insurance, orientation, job
descriptions, active recruitment, recognition and evaluation, while formal record-
keeping had no signicant eect (Brudney, 1999).
While one might expect that government employees would come into conict
with volunteers, empirical research has found little evidence of this (Brudney and
Kellough, 2000; Brudney and Gazley, 2002). However, concerns about professionalism
can make paid sta reluctant to delegate substantive tasks to volunteers (Dover, 2010;
Nesbit et al, 2012). A study of stipended and non-stipended volunteers in the federal
Experience Corps found that stipends improved retention and made possible a more
diverse volunteer base (McBride et al, 2011).
Episodic volunteering
Hyde et al (2016) divided episodic volunteers for a sports fundraising event for a
cancer charity into rst-time, more experienced and long-term episodic volunteers.
They found that social/enjoyment and benets motives predicted retention in novices
only, social norms predicted retention in novices and more experienced volunteers,
and commitment predicted retention in more experienced and long-term episodic
volunteers. Satisfaction with the volunteer experience predicted retention in all
three groups.
Corporate volunteering
Much practitioner and popular literature claims that corporate volunteer programmes
have good eects for the community, the volunteers and the corporation, but little
research has tested best practices (Grant, 2012). What studies that exist tested dierent
aspects of corporate volunteering and their conclusions do not form a clear pattern
or suggest a coherent set of best practices. Gatignon-Turnau and Mignonac (2015)
found that the positive eects of corporate volunteering on employees’ aective
commitment to the company were undermined if the volunteers attributed public
relations motives to the company’s operation of the volunteer programme. Peterson
(2004) tested recruitment strategies and found that team projects, matching incentives,
recognition and allowing volunteer work to positively inuence performance
evaluations all encouraged corporate volunteering, while publicising opportunities
and oering release time to volunteer did not encourage volunteering. Peloza et
al (2009) also found no relationship between time o and corporate volunteering
and furthermore found no positive eect of manager support and participation by
co-workers. By contrast, Booth et al (2009) found that oering time o and exible
hours did encourage volunteering, as did providing logistical support and allowing
volunteers to use company facilities and equipment. Malinen and Harju (2017) found
that engagement in the volunteer job and organisational support for volunteering
both correlated with intent to continue volunteering.
Evidence-based volunteer management
The literature on volunteer management to date is limited. This review found only 81
articles that empirically tested volunteer management practices, far fewer than studies
of the characteristics of volunteers. One set of articles tested the relationship of various
attitudes and motivations to satisfaction, hours worked and intent to remain, and
another tested the eect of specic management practices. In terms of methodology,
nearly all the studies used cross-sectional surveys with convenience samples and
self-reported outcome measures such as volunteer satisfaction and intent to remain.
Longitudinal studies and eld experiments are superior methods but rarely used.
For researchers
The study of eective management practices is relatively new and there is much to
do to improve its quality. The rst task is to broaden the scope of the models used.
Most research uses the HRM model and much of this research has supported the
validity of many aspects of this model. Beyond the nding in Hager and Brudney’s
(2004) survey that the amount of communication correlated negatively with having
enough volunteers, researchers have done little to determine whether HRM practices
can have negative eects.
Other models besides HRM show promise. Psychological contract theory
provides specic and plausible predictions about the negative eects of too much
HRM, predicting that volunteers who seek caring and supportive interactions with
management would be alienated by the bureaucratic professionalism of HRM. Social
environment theories are also a promising area for future research, as the limited
current research has shown that social identication, peer support and social norms can
have a powerful eect on volunteer behaviour. Future research should continue to test
these social models and should test ways to best encourage social identication, peer
support and the promotion of social norms that encourage volunteer commitment.
Many methodological changes could make the research on volunteer management
more eective. First, scholars could use existing, validated measures instead of inventing
new ones. This may have been dicult in the past because the literature on volunteer
management is scattered across journals and disciplines, meaning that it was easy
to miss previous work and previous measures. However, there is now no reason to
have so many measures of volunteer satisfaction, including two separate Volunteer
Satisfaction Indexes (Galindo-Kuhn and Guzley, 2002; Vecina et al, 2009). At least
most scholars use common measures of organisational commitment (Nelson et al,
1995; Costa et al, 2006; Vecina et al, 2012, 2013) and volunteer engagement (Huynh
et al, 2012; Vecina et al, 2012; Van Schie et al, 2015). Measures of other constructs can
be validated and replicated in order to better organise the eld of volunteer research.
Further problems in the eld of volunteer management research involve the use
of the following:
non-representative samples;
cross-sectional data;
self-reported surveys/subjective measures of volunteers’ attitudes and opinions;
vague measures of management best practices.
Christopher Einolf
The rst problem is that most studies use non-representative convenience samples
of subsets of non-prot organisations, such as volunteer rugby clubs (Cuskelly et al,
2006) and American hospitals (Rogers et al, 2016). Only a few survey non-prots
using nationally representative samples (Hager and Brudney, 2004, 2015; Stirling et
al, 2011; Studer, 2015). When studies only survey volunteers from a small sector of
the non-prot universe, it is impossible to generalise to the broader population of
volunteers, making any ndings dubious.
Second, the nearly ubiquitous use of cross-sectional datasets makes drawing
inferences about causality dicult. Some studies try to get around this problem by
using structural equation modelling, but these studies only use measures of volunteer
attitudes and opinions. None involve studies of organisational actions. Only a few
studies have sought to follow a group of volunteers over time (Davis et al, 2003; Tang et
al, 2010; Beirne and Lambin, 2013), which would help to advance our understanding
of the relationships between training, supervision, job design and other agency actions
and the level of volunteering intensity. More investment in longitudinal methods
would help to overcome the limitations of cross-sectional surveys. Field experiments
would also be an eective way to test the value of management practices but only
one study to date has used this method (Fisher and Ackerman, 1998).
A third problem lies in the use of self-reported surveys. These are likely to be accurate
when asking volunteers about subjective opinions and feelings such as volunteer
engagement, organisational commitment, general satisfaction and satisfaction with
specic management actions. They are less reliable with outcome measures. Actual
retention measured in a longitudinal survey would be much more reliable than
reported intent to remain; actual volunteer hours recorded by a supervisor would
be more accurate than volunteer hours recalled and reported by the volunteer; and
quality of work evaluated by a supervisor would be more accurate than volunteers’
own estimates of the quality of their work. Future studies should collect data from
both volunteers and the agencies for which they work in order to triangulate data
collection and get more accurate data.
A fourth problem involves the lack of specicity in measuring management
best practices. Many studies use measures of volunteer satisfaction with various
management behaviours, such as communication, supervision and recognition, but
do not ask what specic management behaviours might bring about volunteer
satisfaction. A few studies have looked at specic actions, such as the studies of specic
recruitment practices (Fisher and Ackerman, 1998; Østerlund, 2013) and recognition
practices (Cnaan and Cascio, 1998) mentioned above. Future studies should test the
eectiveness of specic actions rather than asking volunteers to make general ratings
of their satisfaction with a category of management behaviour.
In summary, scholars have much work to do to make the eld of volunteer
management research more scientically rigorous and more useful to practitioners.
Needed improvements include the use of multiple models, consistent and validated
measures, representative samples, longitudinal study designs, avoiding self-reported
measures, and testing specic management behaviours. In addition to improved
research, we need simply more research, replicating existing ndings on dierent
samples using dierent methods and measures.
Evidence-based volunteer management
For managers
Despite these problems identied with the quality of the extant research, some
preliminary conclusions for volunteer managers seem justied. The 11 best practices
described in this article have all received moderate to substantial empirical support
and seem worth acting on.
Some of the specic suggestions regarding job descriptions, recruitment and
other components of the HRM model are useful. Psychological contract research
demonstrates the value of tempering the HRM model with caring and supportive
interactions and reducing the amount of bureaucracy visible to volunteers. Particularly
promising are the ndings regarding peer support. Volunteer managers can encourage
peer support by providing volunteers with the space and time for social interaction,
and can encourage social attachment to the organisation and the promotion of social
norms by emphasising their organisation’s mission, values and achievements.
One piece of good news for volunteer managers is that the dierent models
featured in this review – HRM, motive fullment, psychological contracts and social
environment – are not mutually exclusive. Volunteer managers can put HRM practices
in place but keep the bureaucratic infrastructure at a minimum from the perspective
of the volunteers, and can focus on caring, supportive interactions with volunteers
instead of the enforcement of policies and rules. Volunteer managers can use the
research on motive fullment in their eorts to recruit, train, supervise, evaluate and
recognise volunteers. Encouraging peer support among volunteers and encouraging
social attachment and social norms can occur independently of HRM practices. Of
course, volunteer managers only have a limited amount of time to do all of these
things, so researchers can help them to prioritise through research that claries which
of these models and practices is most eective and important.
In conclusion, the volunteer management literature has made a promising start but
its scarcity, narrow scope and weak methodology make it less useful to volunteer
managers than it should be. This does not have to remain the case, however, and the
current state of the literature provides a good foundation for future research. The
past few decades have seen extensive research into the motivations, characteristics,
demographic traits, social networks and resources of volunteers. If academics apply
equal intensity to the study of eective volunteer management, it will be possible
to construct a solid body of knowledge that managers can use to eectively recruit,
train, supervise and retain volunteers.
Alfes, K, Shantz, A, Bailey, C, 2016, Enhancing volunteer engagement to achieve
desirable outcomes: What can non-prot employers do?, Voluntas 27, 2, 595–617
Allen, JA, Mueller, SL, 2013, The revolving door: A closer look at major factors
in volunteers’ intention to quit, Journal of Community Psychology 41, 2, 139–55,
Barnes, ML, Sharpe, EK, 2009, Looking beyond traditional volunteer management:
A case study of an alternative approach to volunteer engagement in parks and
recreation, Voluntas 20, 2, 169–87
Christopher Einolf
Beirne, C, Lambin, X, 2013, Understanding the determinants of volunteer retention
through capture-recapture analysis: Answering social science questions using a
wildlife ecology tookit, Conservation Letters 6, 6, 391–401
Boezeman, EJ, Ellemers, N, 2007, Volunteering for charity: Pride, respect, and the
commitment of volunteers, Journal of Applied Psychology 92, 771–87
Boezeman, EJ, Ellemers, N, 2014a, Volunteer leadership: The role of pride and respect
in organizational identication and leadership satisfaction, Leadership 10, 2, 160–73
Boezeman, EJ, Ellemers, N, 2014b, Volunteer recruitment, in K.Y.T. Yu and D.M. Cable
(eds) The Oxford Handbook of Recruitment, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 73–87
Booth, JE, Park, KW, Glomb, TM, 2009, Employer-supported volunteering benets:
Gift exchange among employers, employees, and volunteer organizations, Human
Resource Management 48, 2, 227–49
Brudney, JL, 1999, The eective use of volunteers: Best practices for the public sector,
Law and Contemporary Problems 62, 4, 219–55
Brudney, JL, 2012, Preparing the organization for volunteers, in T.D. Connors (ed)
The volunteer management handbook: Leadership strategies for success, Hoboken, NJ:
Wiley, 55–80
Brudney, JL, Gazley, B, 2002, Testing the conventional wisdom regarding volunteer
programs: A longitudinal analysis of the Service Corps of Retired Executives and
the U.S. Small Business Administration, Nonprot and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 31,
4, 525–48
Brudney, JL, Kellough, JE, 2000, Volunteers in state government: Involvement,
management, and benets, Nonprot and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 29, 111–30
Brudney, JL, Meijs, LCPM, 2009, It ain’t natural: Toward a new (natural) resource
conceptualization for volunteer management, Nonprot and Voluntary Sector Quarterly
38, 4, 564–81
Brudney, JL, Meijs, LCPM, 2014, Models of volunteer management: Professional
volunteer program management in social work, Human Service Organizations:
Management, Leadership and Governance 38, 297–309
Caldwell, SD, Farmer, SM, Fedor, DB, 2008, The inuence of age on volunteer
contributions in a nonprot organization,Journal of Organizational Behavior29, 3,
Choudhury, E, 2010, Attracting and managing volunteers in local government, Journal
of Management Development 29, 6, 592–603
Clary, EG, Snyder, M, Ridge, RD, Copeland, J, Stukas, AA, Haugen, J, Miene, P, 1998,
Understanding and assessing the motivations of volunteers: A functional approach,
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 74, 6, 1516–30
Clary, EG, Snyder, M, Ridge, RD, Miene, PK, Haugen, JA, 1994, Matching messages
to motives in persuasion: A functional approach to promoting volunteerism, Journal
of Applied Social Psychology 24, 13, 1129–46
Cnaan, RA, Cascio, TA, 1998, Performance and commitment: Issues in management
of volunteers in human service organizations, Journal of Social Service Research 24,
3, 1–37
Costa, CA, Chalip, L, Green, BC, 2006, Reconsidering the role of training in event
volunteers’ satisfaction, Sport Management Review 9, 165–82
Craig-Lees, M, Harris, J, Lau, W, 2008, The role of dispositional, organizational, and
situational variables in volunteering, Journal of Nonprot and Public Sector Marketing
19, 2, 1–24
Evidence-based volunteer management
Cuskelly, G, Taylor, T, Hoye, R, Darcy, S, 2006, Volunteer management practices and
volunteer retention: A human resource management approach, Sport Management
Review 9, 141–63
Davis, MH, Hall, JA, Meyer, M, 2003, The rst year: Inuences on the satisfaction,
involvement, and persistence of new community volunteers, Personality and Social
Psychology Bulletin 29, 248–60
Dover, GJ, 2010, Public sector volunteering: Committed sta, multiple logics, and
contradictory strategies, Review of Public Personnel Administration 30, 2, 235–56
Dwiggins-Beeler, R, Spitzberg, B, Roesch, S, 2011, Vectors of volunteerism: Correlates
of volunteer retention, recruitment, and job satisfaction, Journal of Psychological Issues
in Organizational Culture 2, 3, 22–43
Dwyer, PC, Bono, JE, Snyder, M, Nov, O, Berson, Y, 2013, Sources of volunteer
motivation: Transformational leadership and personal motives inuence volunteer
outcomes, Nonprot Management and Leadership24, 2, 181–205
Erasmus, B, Morey, PJ, 2016, Faith-based volunteer motivation: Exploring the
applicability of the Volunteer Functions Inventory to the motivations and satisfaction
levels in an Australian faith-based organization, Voluntas 27, 3, 1343–60
Farmer, SM, Fedor, DB, 1999, Volunteer participation and withdrawal: A psychological
contract perspective on the role of expectations and organizational support, Nonprot
Management and Leadership 9, 4, 349–67
Farmer, SM, Fedor, DB, 2001, Changing the focus on volunteering: An investigation of
volunteers’ multiple contributions to a charitable organization, Journal of Management
27, 2, 191–211
Finkelstein, M, 2008, Volunteer satisfaction and volunteer action: A functional
approach, Social Behavior and Personality 36, 1, 9–18
Finkelstein, MA, Penner, LA, Brannick, MT, 2005, Motive, role identity, and prosocial
personality as predictors of volunteer activity, Social Behavior and Personality: An
International Journal 33, 4, 403–18
Fisher, RJ, Ackerman, D, 1998, The eects of recognition and group need on
volunteerism: A social norm perspective, Journal of Consumer Research 25, 3, 262–75
Galindo-Kuhn, R, Guzley, RM, 2002, The Volunteer Satisfaction Index: Construct
denition, measurement, development and validation, Journal of Social Service Research
28, 1, 45–68
Garner, JT, Garner, LT, 2011, Volunteering an opinion: Organizational voice and
volunteer retention in nonprot organizations, Nonprot and Voluntary Sector
Quarterly 40, 5, 813–28
Gatignon-Turnau, A, Mignonac, K, 2015, Mis(using) employee volunteering for public
relations: Implications for corporate volunteers’ organizational commitment, Journal
of Business Research 68, 1, 7–18
Gazley, B, 2012, Predicting a volunteer’s future intentions in professional associations:
A test of the Penner model, Nonprot and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 42, 6, 1245–67
Gazley, B, Brudney, JL, 2005, Volunteer involvement in local government after 9/11:
The continuing question of capacity, Public Administration Review 65, 2, 131–42
Gazley, B, Brudney, JL, 2014, The extent and nature of informal volunteering in
professional associations, Voluntary Sector Review 5, 3, 313–29
Grant, AM, 2012, Giving time, time after time: Work design and sustained employee
participation in corporate volunteering, Academy of Management Review 37, 4,
Christopher Einolf
Grube, JA, Piliavin, JA, 2000, Role identity, organizational experiences, and volunteer
performance, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 26, 9, 1108–19
Hager, MA, 2014, Engagement motivations in professional associations, Nonprot and
Voluntary Sector Quarterly 43, 2(suppl), 39S–60S
Hager, MA, Brudney, JL, 2004, Volunteer management practices and retention of volunteers,
Washington, DC: Urban Institute
Hager, MA, Brudney, JL, 2015, In search of strategy: Universalistic, contingent, and
congurational adoption of volunteer management practices, Nonprot Management
and Leadership 25, 3, 235–54
Haivas, S, Hofmans, J, Pepermans, R, 2013, Volunteer engagement and intention to
quit from a self-determination theory perspective, Journal of Applied Social Psychology
43, 1879–80
Hellman, CH, House, D, 2006, Volunteers serving victims of sexual assault, The Journal
of Social Psychology 146, 1, 117–23
Hidalgo, MC, Moreno, P, 2009, Organizational socialization of volunteers: The eect
on their intention to remain, Journal of Community Psychology 37, 5, 594–601
Hill, M, Stevens, D, 2011, Volunteers who manage other volunteers and the
professionalization of volunteer management: Implications for practice, Voluntary
Sector Review 2, 1, 107–14
Hobson, CJ, Heler, K, 2007, The importance of initial assignment quality and sta
treatment of new volunteers: A eld test of the Hobson-Heler model of nonprot
agency ‘volunteer-friendliness’, International Journal of Volunteer Administration 14,
6, 47–56
Hustinx, L, Handy, F, 2009, Where do I belong? Volunteer attachment in a complex
organization, Administration in Social Work 33, 202–20
Huynh, JY, Metzer, J, Wineeld, A, 2012, Engaged or connected? A perspective of the
motivational pathway of the job demands-resources model in volunteers working
for nonprot organizations, Voluntas 23, 870–98
Hyde, MK, Dunn, J, Bax, C, Chambers, SK, 2016, Episodic volunteering and retention:
An integrated theoretical approach, Nonprot and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 45, 1,
Jamison, IB, 2003, Turnover and retention among volunteers in human service agencies,
Review of Public Personnel Administration 23, 2, 114–32
Karl, KA, Peluchette, JV, Hall, LM, 2008, Give them something to smile about: A
marketing strategy for recruiting and retaining volunteers, Journal of Nonprot and
Public Sector Marketing 20, 1, 71–96
Kim, M, Chelladurai, P, Trail, GT, 2007, A model of volunteer retention in youth
sport, Journal of Sport Management 21, 2, 151–71
Kulik, L, 2007, Explaining responses to volunteering: An ecological model, Nonprot
and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 36, 2, 239–55
Locke, M, Ellis, A, Smith, JD, 2004, Hold on to what you’ve got: The volunteer
retention literature, Voluntary Action 5, 3, 81–99
Malinen, S, Harju, L, 2017, Volunteer engagement: Exploring the distinction between
job and organizational engagement, Voluntas 28, 69–89
Maslanka, H, 1996, Burnout, social support, and AIDS volunteers, AIDS Care 8 , 2 ,
Evidence-based volunteer management
McBride, AM, Gonzales, E, Morrow-Howell, N, McCrary, S, 2011, Stipends
in volunteer civic service: Inclusion, retention, and volunteer benets, Public
Administration Review 71, 870–8
Millette, V, Gagné, M, 2008, Designing volunteers’ tasks to maximize motivation,
satisfaction and performance: The impact of job characteristics on volunteer
engagement, Motivation and Emotion32, 1, 11–22
Musick, M, Wilson, J, 2008, Volunteers: A social prole, Bloomington, IN: Indiana
University Press
Nelson, WH, Pratt, CC, Carpenter, CE, Walter, KL, 1995, Factors aecting volunteer
long-term care ombudsman organizational commitment and burnout, Nonprot
and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 24, 3, 213–33
Nencini, A, Romaioli, D, Meneghini, AM, 2016, Volunteer motivation and
organizational climate: Factors that promote satisfaction and sustained volunteerism
in NPOs, Voluntas 27, 618–39
Nesbit, R, Brudney, JL, Christensen, R, 2012, Exploring the limits of volunteerism in public
service delivery: Substituting volunteer labor for paid labor, New York, NY: Baruch College
Nesbit, R, Gazley, B, 2012, Patterns of volunteer activity in professional associations
and societies, Voluntas 23, 558–83
Newton, C, Becker, K, Bell, S, 2014, Learning and development opportunities as a
tool for the retention of volunteers: A motivational perspective, Human Resource
Management Journal 24, 514–30
Østerlund, K, 2013, Managing voluntary sport organizations to facilitate volunteer
recruitment, European Sport Management Quarterly 13, 2, 143–65
Peloza, J, Hudson, S, Hassay, DN, 2009, The marketing of employee volunteerism,
Journal of Business Ethics 87, 371–87
Peterson, DK, 2004, Recruitment strategies for encouraging participation in corporate
volunteer programs, Journal of Business Ethics 49, 371–87
Presti, AL, 2013, The interactive eects of job resources and motivations to volunteer
among a sample of Italian volunteers, Voluntas 24, 4, 969–87
Randle, MJ, Dolnicar, S, 2009, Not just any volunteers: Segmenting the market to
attract the high contributors, Journal of Nonprot and Public Sector Marketing 21, 3,
Rogelberg, SG, Allen, JA, Conway, JM, Goh, A, Currie, L, McFarland, B, 2010,
Employee experiences with volunteers: Assessment, description, antecedents, and
outcomes, Nonprot Management and Leadership 20, 4, 423–44
Rogers, SE, Jiang, K, Rogers, CM, Intindola, M, 2016, Strategic human resources
management of volunteers and the link to hospital patient satisfaction, Nonprot
and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 45, 2, 409–24
Safrit, RD, Schmiesing, R, 2012, Volunteer models and management, in T.D. Connors
(ed) The volunteer management handbook: Leadership strategies for success, Hoboken,
New Jersey: Wiley, 3–30
Smith, DH, 1997, The rest of the nonprot sector: Grassroots associations as the dark
matter ignored in prevailing ‘at earth’ maps of the sector, Nonprot and Voluntary
Sector Quarterly 26, 2, 114–31
Stirling, C, Kilpatrick, S, Orpin, P, 2011, A psychological contract perspective to
the link between non-prot organizations’ management practices and volunteer
sustainability, Human Resource Development International 14, 3, 321–36
Christopher Einolf
Studer, S, 2015, Volunteer management: Responding to the uniqueness of volunteers,
Nonprot and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, online rst,
Studer, S, von Schnurbein, G, 2013, Organizational factors aecting volunteers: A
literature review on volunteer coordination, Voluntas 24, 403–40
Stukas, AA, Worth, KA, Clary, EG, Snyder, M, 2009, The matching of motivations
to aordances in the volunteer environment: An index for assessing the impact of
multiple matches on volunteer outcomes, Nonprot and Voluntary Sector Quarterly
38, 1, 5–28
Tang, F, Morrow-Howell, N, Choi, E, 2010, Why do older adult volunteers stop
volunteering?, Ageing and Society 30, 859–78
Tang, F, Morrow-Howell, N, Hong, 2009, Institutional facilitation in sustained
volunteering among older adult volunteers, Social Work Research 33, 3, 172–82
Van Schie, S, Guntert, ST, Oostlander, J, Wehner, T, 2015, How the organizational
context impacts volunteers: A dierentiated perspective on self-determined
motivation, Voluntas 26, 1570–90
Vecina, ML, Chacón, F, 2005, Positive emotions in volunteerism, Spanish Journal of
Psychology 8, 1, 30–5
Vecina, ML, Chacón, F, Marzana, D, Marta, E, 2013, Volunteer engagement and
organizational commitment in nonprot organizations: What makes volunteers
remain within organizations and feel happy?, Journal of Community Psychology 41,
3, 291–302
Vecina, ML, Chacón, F, Sueiro, M, 2009, Satisfacción en el voluntariado: estructura
interna y relación con la permanencia en las organizaciones, Psicothema 21, 1, 112–17
Vecina, ML, Chacón, F, Sueiro, M, Barrón, A, 2012, Volunteer engagement: Does
engagement predict the degree of satisfaction among new volunteers and the
commitment of those who have been active longer?, Applied Psychology 61, 1, 130–48
Waters, RD, Bortree, D, 2007, Measuring the volunteer–nonprot organization
relationship: An application of public relations theory, The International Journal of
Volunteer Administration 24, 6, 57–67
Wisner, PS, Stringfellow, A, Youngdahl, WE, Parker, L, 2005, The service volunteer-
loyalty chain: An exploratory study of charitable not-for-prot service organizations,
Journal of Operations Management 23, 143–61
... If there is a mismatch between the volunteer's expectations and their experiences, the psychological contract is broken, which could affect their willingness to remain in the organisation (Hoye and Kappelides, 2021). Organisational factors such as opportunities for collaboration and team building, the management's openness and transparency, feedback, learning possibilities and opportunities for empowerment have also been shown to increase volunteers' willingness to remain engaged with an organisation (Einolf, 2018;Hudson, 2021). Still, more in-depth knowledge about the factors that can ensure retention and long-term commitment among volunteers is needed Bidee et al, 2017). ...
... Through the interviews in our study, it was also clear that the staff were perceived as supportive and the volunteers felt included in the working community alongside the permanent staff, and that this contributed to a sense of belonging. This is in accordance with earlier research showing that recognition from leaders and possibilities for relationship building are important in improving volunteer engagement and retention in nonprofit organisations (Wollebaek et al, 2015;Einolf, 2018;Hudson, 2021). Also, Bidee et al (2017) found that team inclusion was positive for motivation by facilitating the feeling of being more related to the others and thereby fulfilling the basic psychological need of relatedness. ...
... In our study, although volunteering at the cafe was confined to preparing meals, the volunteers could choose which role to take in the kitchen. Job characteristics such as skill variety, task identity and task significance have been found to be associated with volunteers' autonomous motivation and intention to continue volunteering (Millette and Gagné, 2008;Einolf, 2018). Several of the informants had demanding daytime jobs and therefore found it rewarding to complete small and predefined work tasks, working within shorter timeframes and having less responsibility. ...
Full-text available
Across Europe, welfare systems are being challenged by demographic changes and increasing socioeconomic differences. Voluntary work has been suggested as part of the solution, but the retention of volunteers within non-profit organisations is increasingly problematic. For the study on which this article is based, we conducted semi-structured interviews with 15 volunteers at a cafe with a socially oriented profile, aimed at marginalised people in Oslo, Norway. The aim was to gain in-depth knowledge of long-term volunteers' experiences at the organisation to better understand retention. Four main themes were identified through the analysis: fulfilment, the mastering of tasks, influence and belonging. These themes can be interpreted as being associated with the satisfaction of the basic psychological needs of competence, autonomy and relatedness, postulated by self-determination theory. The study therefore provides insights into what factors are important in creating an autonomy-supportive work context to encourage volunteers' longlasting commitment. Key words volunteer retention • sustained motivation • basic psychological needs • autonomy support To cite this article: Arka, T., Ellingsen-Dalskau, L. and Ihlebaek, C (2022) Long-term commitment to voluntary social work-the role of an autonomy-supportive work environment, Voluntary Sector Review, XX(XX): 1-15,
... Overall, there is not a lot in research on volunteer leadership to help leaders manage the performance of volunteers when they need to improve compliance with prescribed procedure and improve the work outcomes of volunteers, without sacrificing retention (Einolf, 2018;Englert & Helmig, 2018). ...
... It shows that the trade-off between performance and retention (cf. Einolf, 2018;Kappelides et al., 2019) is but one possible configuration of the relationship between these two outcomes. It shows that rather than compete with one another, performance and retention can also reinforce one another. ...
Leaders of volunteers face challenges that are unique to the bond between volunteers and their organization. One of the most difficult challenges is the trade‐off between performance and retention. We use a qualitative study of maestros of amateur choirs to explain how leaders can overcome this trade‐off and improve volunteer performance while ensuring retention. We show that leaders can do so by enacting a virtuous cycle of self‐development where they enforce performance to make their organization an effective context for the self‐development of volunteers, thereby ensuring retention.
... The field of volunteer management contains empirically-based research on volunteer-totask assignments, as seen in literature reviews (Einolf, 2018;Studer & von Schnurbein, 2013). ...
Full-text available
Deploying the skills and experiences of nonprofit employees and volunteers is challenging due to resource constraints on nonprofit organizations and the salient characteristics of volunteer labor. This research introduces an integer linear program to make volunteer and employee task assignments for a planned nonprofit program that captures the impact of task assignments on volunteer retention in future periods. Assignments are made to balance the need for urgency of current tasks, organizational task preferences, volunteer trainings, and volunteer preferences (which impact retention). The deterministic optimization model is evaluated using a computational design of experiments with a food bank use case and a simulation model that incorporates uncertainty in volunteer preferences and retention. The developed model, which captures the impact of task assignment on expected volunteer retention, is compared to a simpler benchmark that ignores task assignment's impact on volunteer retention and instead makes assignments maximizing the organization's preferences. The proposed approach is found to be beneficial to nonprofits, even when an NPO has uncertainty in their estimates for volunteer preferences and volunteer retention threshold values.
... "Best" volunteer management practices may be used to reduce volunteer turnover, hence increasing volunteer retention (Cho et al., 2020;Skoglund, 2006). Best practices include processes by which an organization recruits, trains, supports, and retains its' volunteers (Einolf, 2018). Managing volunteers presents a significant challenge to organizations with issues like developing meaningful roles for volunteers who have limited time, recruiting enough volunteers, and finding individuals with the right skills for the organization (Moore & Rehnborg, 2013). ...
Research indicates healthy family relationships can reduce recidivism. More effort has been placed towards providing family life programming in prisons to promote healthy individual and relational functioning, yet only a handful of studies have evaluated and provided insight on relationship education (RE) for incarcerated adults. This study contributes to this emerging effort and examines changes following participation in a RE program, using a sample of 461 incarcerated men and women. Findings indicate significant improvements in anxiety and depressive symptoms and conflict resolution skills. Additional tests of moderation of change by gender, relationship status, and child age revealed a greater change in individual functioning for those in a relationship compared to those who were not. Indications are that RE programs hold promise for contributing to better individual well-being and healthy relationships during incarceration and the potential for reducing recidivism incidence after re-entry.
... There are many factors that determine whether someone volunteers and continues to do so. Generally, these include a combination of individual and contextual influencers such as cultural values and beliefs, being asked to volunteer by someone in your social group, having the time, capability, and ability to volunteer, perception of volunteering, experience with volunteering, age, and living in a context where volunteering is socially acceptable (Dekker and Halman 2003, Einolf 2018, Hallet, et al. 2020a, Haski-Leventhal et al. 2019, Musick and Wilson 2008. Satisfaction with the one-off activity, and being asked to volunteer again are also strongly associated with increased willingness to participate in another volunteering event and possibly even move from intermittent to more sustained, ongoing volunteering (Bang, Won and Kim 2009, Bryen and Madden, 2006, Cnaan, Heist and Storti 2017, Hallmann and Harms 2012, Hyde, Dunn, Scuffham, and Chamber 2014, Maas, Meijs and Brudney 2021, Neufeind, Güntert and Wehner 2013, Smith and Lockstone 2009). ...
Full-text available
In this article, we are concerned with the recruitment potential of one-off episodic events for attracting and retaining volunteers. Our specific focus is on the neglected pool of non-returning volunteers. These are one-off event participants who are unwilling to volunteer again in future. Many studies generally document an overwhelming willingness of people to repeat volunteering after participating in a one-off event, either due to reasons of social desirability or because they had a good volunteering experience. The positive participant reaction at most one-off events leads to the assumption that such events are useful arenas in which to generate a pool of potential repeat volunteers. Yet, scant attention is given to those people at the events who have no inclination for further volunteering. This article addresses that gap. It is part of a special issue on episodic volunteering from an international perspective and uses data from nineteen countries across the world. Our statistical analyses, which compares returning and non-returning volunteers, finds that on average, 7.42% of episodic event participants do not want to volunteer again in future. The results reveal that younger, less educated, novices who participate on their own are more likely to report unwillingness to repeat volunteering. Non-repeat volunteers unexpectedly had higher levels of altruistic motivation, and as expected, a less satisfactory one-off volunteer experience. The article concludes with implications and recommendations for organizers of events employing episodic volunteers.
In this article, we introduce the concept of “engageability,” which refers to the ability of volunteer-employing nonprofit organizations to engage, motivate, and manage volunteers to maximize their potential and sustain the volunteering human resource. Engageability conceptually complements the two well-established concepts of volunteerability and recruitability. By offering this conceptual framework, we enable volunteer-employing organizations to assess the degree to which they are engaging volunteers and to make improvements in this regard. Engageability questions how organizations that have already recruited volunteers make themselves volunteer-friendly and engage volunteers effectively. Based on the literature, we offer a comprehensive framework that considers a large set of organizational practices from germane to engageability, framing them into four fundamental clusters: (a) value-based (ideological), (b) managerial, (c) physical, and (d) supportive connections. We introduce the conceptual model and provide explanation for each cluster and each with-cluster organizational practices and discuss the potential contribution of this conceptual model.
There has been an unprecedented global increase in digital volunteering since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, in many countries, including Central and Eastern Europe, online volunteering is under-researched and large-scale tools, such as volunteering crowdsourcing platforms, are only beginning to emerge in response to crises. This article presents practical lessons for engaging and retaining online volunteers, drawn from an evaluation of the only Polish crowdsourcing platform dedicated to e-volunteering:
While research on organizational aspects designed to enhance volunteer attitudes has grown over time, we still lack knowledge on the mechanisms that explain these relationships and are specific to the volunteering context. In the present study, we draw on social identity theory to explore how two organizational characteristics relating to a nonprofit organization’s (NPO) nature (volunteers’ organizational vision acceptance) and nurture (volunteers’ perception of organizational support) interact to promote volunteers’ engagement and retention. Findings from a survey of 1,355 volunteers in a German environmental NPO show that the relationship between perceived organizational support and both volunteer outcomes is mediated by organizational identification and moderated by volunteers’ acceptance of organizational vision. We contribute to research on the professionalization of volunteer management by highlighting the importance of volunteers’ acceptance of their NPO’s vision for their engagement and intention to leave.
Intergenerational volunteering in early childhood education and care (ECEC) occurs when older adults invest their time in unpaid work that supports young children who are not their kin. One important outcome of this type of volunteer activity is a sense of intergenerational solidarity, defined as form of social cohesion that transcends age group boundaries. A young/old divide is a persistent, pervasive issue in the global community, so the chapter offers a self- assessment that early childhood professionals can use to address common misconceptions about older adults. Next, six dimensions of intergenerational volunteering are presented. This is followed by a discussion of reciprocal benefits for young children and older adults; expanding support networks, promoting mental health, building resilience, and modeling prosocial behavior. Research suggests that older adults’ decisions to volunteer initially, sustain the commitment, or abandon a particular volunteer role are complex. The findings from these studies are used as a framework for productive intergenerational volunteering and key points are illustrated by vignettes of older adults who volunteer with young children. Evidence-based guidelines for early childhood educators and caregivers that will help to initiate, sustain, and improve intergenerational volunteer activities as well as maximize the benefits for all stakeholders conclude the chapter. © 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.
Volunteer satisfaction is a significant concern, as volunteers have lower barriers to exit than employees and tend to leave nonprofits when dissatisfied. While volunteer management predominantly focuses on the implementation of management practices, this study alters that perspective. Through job crafting, one form of proactive behavior in organizational contexts, we study volunteers as active participants in their volunteer experience. We posit that volunteer job crafting is an important, yet overlooked, factor in volunteer outcomes such as satisfaction and organizational identification. We test and (partially) confirm our hypotheses using a sample of 678 volunteers in one youth-serving nonprofit organization in the Midwest region of the USA. This study extends job crafting research further into the non-work domain by adding a multifaceted conceptualization of job crafting in the context of volunteer work. We distinguish between behavioral and cognitive crafting and provide empirical support on how those crafting forms relate to volunteer satisfaction and organizational identification.
Full-text available
This article uses strategic human resource management theory to consider the ways in which volunteers can potentially enhance hospital patient satisfaction. Results of a structural equation modeling analysis of multi-source data on 107 U.S. hospitals show positive associations between hospital strategy, volunteer management practices, volunteer workforce attributes, and patient satisfaction. Although no causality can be assumed, the results shed light on the volunteer–patient satisfaction relationship and have important implications for hospital leaders, volunteer administrators, and future research.
Full-text available
Engagement is a positive psychological state that is linked with a range of beneficial individual and organizational outcomes. However, the factors associated with volunteer engagement have rarely been examined. Data from 1064 volunteers of a wildlife charity in the United Kingdom revealed that both task- and emotion-oriented organizational support were positively related to volunteer engagement, and volunteer engagement was positively related to volunteer happiness and perceived social worth and negatively related to intent to leave the voluntary organization. Consistent with theory, engagement acted as a mediator between these factors. The implications for future research and the relevance of the findings for voluntary organizations are discussed.
Retaining engaged volunteers is crucial to many non-profit organizations. However, research on volunteer engagement is limited, and the distinction between job and organizational engagement in volunteers remains to be investigated. In this paper, we examine both organizational- and job-level engagement, and specifically, whether perceived organizational support would enhance volunteer engagement and associated attitudes. We surveyed 221 volunteers, and asked them about their perceptions of organizational support; their engagement with their volunteer job and the organization they volunteer for; satisfaction; commitment; and turnover intentions. Both organizational and job engagements had significant relationships with the attitudinal variables. However, we found that organizational rather than job engagement mediated the relationship between organizational support and volunteer satisfaction and commitment. While organizational engagement correlated with turnover intentions, neither job nor organizational engagement mediated the relationship between support and the intent to leave. Our findings advance the research on volunteer engagement, and highlight the importance of organizational engagement for this important, but too often overlooked, workforce.
Volunteers frequently serve public and nonprofit organizations, among them libraries, parks and recreation departments, social service groups, and religious organizations. Research on volunteers and volunteerism traditionally focuses on antecedents to volunteering and outcomes for volunteers. In this study, we attempt to build on the existing literature by examining the volunteer experience from the paid employee' s vantage point. Using a sample of employees who work alongside volunteers in animal care organizations (N 270), we examine how employees described the volunteers with whom they interact. Although these assessments were generally positive, there was considerable variability. This appears to be explained, in part, by each organization' s volunteer resources management practices. Results also indicate that employees who reported less satisfactory experiences with volunteers also reported being more stressed, overworked, and less committed to the organization, and having a greater intention to quit. Importantly, these results held up even after controlling for general job satisfaction. Implications of these findings for theory and practice are discussed.
Increasingly studies on volunteer motivation are exploring the process stages of volunteerism with particular attention to recruitment and retention. Volunteer experience and its dynamic association to satisfaction, however, remain underexamined, particularly in faith-based contexts. This study uses a functional approach to explore the applicability of the Volunteer Functions Inventory (Clary et al. in J Personal Soc Psychol, 74(6):1516–1530, 1998) to a sample of volunteers in an Australian faith-based organization. Factor analysis was supportive of a four-factor solution with the elimination of the Protective function and the emergence of a new function, Enrichment. The validity of a new structure, the Faith-Based Volunteer Motivation Scale, is tested against levels of volunteer satisfaction for this sample. Results concur with Clary et al.’s correlation between high-level motive fulfilment and degrees of satisfaction. © 2016 International Society for Third-Sector Research and The Johns Hopkins University
Who tends to volunteer and why? What causes attract certain types of volunteers? What motivates people to volunteer? How can volunteers be persuaded to continue their service? Making use of a broad range of survey information to offer a detailed portrait of the volunteer in America, Volunteers provides an important resource for everyone who works with volunteers or is interested in their role in contemporary society. Mark A. Musick and John Wilson address issues of volunteer motivation by focusing on individuals' subjective states, their available resources, and the influence of gender and race. In a section on social context, they reveal how volunteer work is influenced by family relationships and obligations through the impact of schools, churches, and communities. They consider cross-national differences in volunteering and historical trends, and close with consideration of the research on the organization of volunteer work and the consequences of volunteering for the volunteer.
Volunteer management (VM) has been strongly influenced by classical human resource management (HRM). There is a growing body of volunteer literature, however, that argues that volunteers differ from paid staff and that VM should therefore respond to the uniqueness of volunteers. In this study, we apply principal component analysis to reveal a few overarching principles of management responses to the uniqueness of volunteers. Furthermore, we use sequential regression analysis to examine the capacity of these principles to complement classical HRM in relation to the desired VM outcome. Our findings suggest that principles such as balance of interest, strategic commitment toward volunteers, role clarity, team spirit, and respect complement classical HRM effectively by focusing on volunteers as a unique stakeholder group. In addition, job characteristics and the resources available for VM significantly contribute to the effectiveness of VM.
The aim of the present study was to examine how the organizational context of a non-profit organization (NPO) influences the motivation and work behaviors of volunteers. We hypothesized that the organizational context—opera-tionalized by the motivational potential of the tasks, autonomy supportiveness of the supervisor, and value congruence between volunteer and NPO—can benefit or thwart self-determined motivation, which in turn predicts work engagement and organizational citizenship behaviors (OCB). In particular, the innovative aim of the study was to differentiate between general and organization-focused self-determined motivation (general and organization-focused SDM). Structural Equation Modeling revealed a distinction based on data from 2,222 volunteers: general SDM was related to the motivational potential of the task, whereas value congruence accounted for organization-focused SDM. Autonomy supportiveness of the supervisor similarly influenced both foci. Furthermore, general SDM enhanced work engagement, whereas OCB was solely linked to organization-focused SDM. Résumé Ce travail de recherche améliore notre compréhension des fondations e ´mergentes d'entreprise et privées en Inde, en adoptant le point de vue de leurs fondateurs : la nouvelle génération de dirigeants d'entreprise indiens très fortunés. Basé sur plus de quarante-cinq entretiens et s'inspirant de la littérature existante, il explore l'environnement de ces personnes, leur position unique d' « hyperagents » , ainsi que le contexte indien qui modèle leurs fondations. Nos résultats suggèrent que ces philanthropes préfèrent les modèles de fondations opérationnels ainsi que les secteurs « sûrs » en termes politiques et sociaux; ils transfèrent les tendances d'entreprise, poursuivent l'objectif d'un changement social en prenant un rôle de guide ou de catalyseur, et ont une préférence pour le contrôle au détriment de la S. van Schie (&) Á S. T. Güntert Á J. Oostlander Á T. Wehner
Volunteers in sport are indispensable, but there is a dearth of systematic research in volunteer retention. The focus of this study was to investigate three different volunteer-retention models incorporating person-task fit (P-T fit), person-organization fit (P-O fit), managerial treatment (MT), empowerment, and intention to continue volunteering. Using structural equation modeling, data from 515 volunteers in the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) were compared across a fully mediated model, a partially mediated model, and a direct-effects model. The results of the fully mediated model, in which empowerment mediated the relationship between P-T fit, P-O fit, MT, and intention to continue volunteering, fit well and better than the other two models. P-T fit, P-O fit, and MT jointly explained 46.8% of variance in empowerment, and empowerment explained 13.5% of variance in intention to continue. Volunteer organizations need to focus on empowering their volunteers through the fit of the volunteer to the task, organization, and appropriate managerial treatment.