What motivates volunteers?

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Week 1 – Discussion

What Motivates Volunteers?

The key to successfully recruiting and retaining volunteers lies in an understanding of what motivates people to commit their personal resources, emotional energy, and time to volunteering.

Select one of the models of volunteer management described in Chapter 1 of the Connors (2012) textbook.

· Using this model, compare and contrast the reasons why people volunteer.

· Describe how you would incorporate these motivators to recruit volunteers.

· Discuss techniques that you would use and why you believe they would be successful.

Resources

Required References

Connors, T. D. (2011). 
Wiley nonprofit law, finance and management series: volunteer management handbook: leadership strategies for success (Links to an external site.)
 (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN-13: 9780470604533. 

Chapter 1: Volunteer Models and Management
Chapter 5: Maximizing Volunteer Engagement

Rosenthal, R. J., & Baldwin, G. (2015). 
Volunteer engagement 2.0: Ideas and insights changing the world (Links to an external site.)
. Somerset, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN-13: 9781118931882. Found in the University of the University of Arizona Global Campus ebrary.

Chapter 3: Debunking the Myths of Volunteer Engagement 

Recommended References

Elias, J. K., Paulomi, S., and Seema, M. (2016). Long-term engagement in formal volunteering and well-being: An exploratory Indian study. Behavioral Sciences 6(4), 20. doi:10.3390/bs6040020

Riddle, R. (2016, November 14). 5 deadly sins of recruiting volunteers [Blog post]. Retrieved from 

http://blogs.volunteermatch.org/engagingvolunteers/2016/11/14/5-deadly-sins-of-recruiting-volunteers/ (Links to an external site.)

Studer, S. (2016). Volunteer management: Responding to the uniqueness of volunteers. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 45(4), 688-714. doi:10.1177/0899764015597786

Stukas, A. A., Snyder, M., & Clary, E. G. (2016). Understanding and encouraging volunteerism and community involvement. The Journal of Social Psychology, 156(3), 243-255. doi:10.1080/00224545.2016.1153328

WEBC03 04/18/2015 2:27:30 Page 32

Chapter 3

Debunking the Myths of Volunteer
Engagement

Sarah Jane Rehnborg
CVA, PhD

We’ve all heard it: Volunteers are as revered as “motherhood and apple pie,”
regarded (incorrectly, I might add) as distinctly “American,” and celebrated each
April during National Volunteer Week. Yet, when it comes to organizational
decision-making, managerial hierarchies, and funding priorities, volunteer pro-
grams and community engagement are rarely seen as “top-shelf” issues.

Staff tell us that they . . .

• Would consider engaging volunteers, but can’t trust them to keep
information confidential.

• Want it done right, so they have to do it themselves.

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• Are tired of do-gooders that don’t do much good.

• Can’t trust volunteers to be there when needed.

The list goes on.
Meanwhile executive leadership and boards wonder . . .

• How to fund a leadership position for volunteers. After all, volunteers are
free, and funders can’t be expected to underwrite this position.

• If volunteer contributions are really worth the liability risk.

• If they let volunteers into the organization, will they ever be able to get
them out if they don’t perform to expectations?

• If days of service are worth the time and effort, especially now that these
short-term episodic events have gained so much popularity.

All of which leaves volunteer leaders/managers asking:

• How will I ever get the support I need from this organization to effectively
engage the community?

• Is there a career path for me within this organization?

• How can I make the case for community engagement and staff support
when no one understands what I do?

• How do I develop a range of volunteer opportunities aligned with the needs
of a changing society?

• How can I do my job when the structure of our organization seems to be
stagnant?

• How do I intervene in a world saturated with newly minted professionals
and needs-based thinking?

These aren’t idle questions. Rather, they have vexed the field for as long as
those who manage volunteers have reflected together on more effective strategies
for engagement. These are also the questions that this chapter proposes to
ultimately address by looking closely at the most pernicious assumptions in the
field that keep organizations from greater achievement while clouding the role of
volunteers and those who are responsible for volunteer engagement.

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Revealing the Five Myths of Volunteer Engagement

As typically practiced, volunteer engagement efforts too often involve a self-
reinforcing cycle of poor management, which are then seen as presenting a
“catch-22,” an unsolvable logic problem for which we then blame the volunteer.
The process goes like this:

1. A nonprofit recognizes the need for assistance to achieve its mission.

2. It assesses its financial resources, finds them deficient, and reflexively turns
to volunteers to fill the gap.

3. Leadership assumes that free volunteer labor requires little financial or
strategic investment.

4. The organization engages volunteers who may or may not be qualified.

5. A staff person may or may not oversee the volunteer effort, and
expectations, accountability, and communication remain unclear.

6. When the effort achieves little, volunteers are identified as the problem and
are approached with skepticism, if at all, the next time a need is identified.

Does this sound familiar?
A variety of additional issues can make this skepticism worse. An organization

facing cutbacks eliminates its volunteer manager position while increasing the
expectation for volunteer involvement. Major organizational restructuring
impacts the volunteer program, yet volunteers are never engaged in the process
or informed of the outcome. A longstanding service tradition is discontinued
without attention to the feelings or needs of those who will be affected or the
foresight to create new roles or opportunities for volunteers.

In short, volunteers are frequently overlooked as stakeholders in the process,
programs suffer, and the victim becomes the identified problem.

This cycle of dysfunction is widely accepted even among those who champion
volunteers, leaving the underlying assumptions and perceptions that perpetuate it
unexamined. This begs the question: To what extent are some of these assump-
tions and perceptions accurate? Are the perceptions of the volunteer managers
accurate? Are they actually marginalized and misunderstood, or are their super-
visors overworked? Do executive directors or board members really overlook
community engagement as a component of organizational function or are they
too busy to attend to these “details”? Do board members and executive directors

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actually spurn volunteers, even though trustees are themselves volunteers, or are
they so focused on other responsibilities that their inattention is perceived as
dismissal? Is it true that executive leadership doesn’t regard volunteer manage-
ment as a position that can be sold to a funder or to the board? Do executive
directors believe that this work is “easy” and anyone can do the job (just as anyone
can volunteer), or does the organization’s leadership see the position as one that
requires special training and expertise worthy of professional status within the
organization? Do volunteers actually pose liability and confidentiality risks, or are
these just smokescreens for other issues?

To look more deeply into these issues, the Volunteer Impact Fund project
brought together a group of leaders in the field to try to figure out what executive
directors really think about community engagement.1 A purposeful sample of
more than 35 executive directors of nonprofits participated in three focus groups
held in Austin, Texas, and Denver, Colorado. Invitees were selected using the
criterion of ignorance about the participants’ perceptions about volunteers. In
other words, if no one could readily identify what the executive director (ED)
thought about volunteer engagement, they were added to the invitation list, and
if someone knew that the ED was a “champion” of volunteer engagement, they
were excluded from the sample. Each focus group session was recorded, and the
discussions were transcribed.

Not only was turnout for these focus groups high, the rich discussion yielded
considerable insight into the executive mindset about volunteer engagement.
Wide ranging comments covered all aspects of the volunteerism “waterfront,” so
to speak, from the problematic . . .

“We do more work for volunteers than they do work for us.”

“You tend to focus on what can go wrong.”

“It’s almost easier to not have volunteer-client contact.”

to the more generous . . .

“We get a lot of people who want to volunteer . . . . It’s folly for us not to find a
way to engage those people, because it generates ill will if we can’t utilize that
energy.”

“Today, our goals have to do with social capital building in the communities we
serve . . . . Our thoughts about volunteer programs . . . have to change.”

DEBUNKING THE MYTHS OF VOLUNTEER ENGAGEMENT 35

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to basic management considerations . . .

“Each volunteer has an agenda, and we need to match that with our programs
and mission.”

“I can see that even though I was hesitant to hire a volunteer manager, 20 hours
isn’t enough . . . . I’m starting to see how this fits with branding and
development—how it all goes together.”

In analyzing the data from the focus groups, we found that the same five myths
kept coming up:

• Volunteers are free.

• You can’t “invest” in voluntary efforts.

• Volunteers want only what you want.

• Meeting volunteers halfway is a recipe for trouble.

• “Volunteer work” is best defined as that which staff wants no part of.

Our findings also helped us to hear more clearly the concerns of executive
leadership about volunteer engagement, and find some clear ways to respond to
the problems they encounter on the topic. In examining these myths and some of
their root causes, we hope to provide a few guidelines to assist the leader of
volunteers in targeting and addressing internal resistance to volunteerism.

Debunking the Myths

If you work to involve volunteers, you will undoubtedly run into many of the
same attitudes again and again, and perhaps you’ve even felt these things yourself.
Certainly, the myths that bubbled up in our focus groups aren’t exclusive to
executive directors. As you read the following section, I encourage you to first ask
whether each assertion is familiar to you, and to explore the evidence that is used
to reach the assertion. Then I invite you to consider the research findings and
other materials that I present. There’s ample information that these “truths”
really aren’t self-evident, but rather are easy responses to complex issues worthy of
thoughtful analysis. How would letting go of them serve you, your organization,

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and the community interested in working with you to achieve important
outcomes?

Are Volunteers Worth It?

• Myth 1: Volunteers are free.

• Myth 2: You can’t invest in volunteers.

These myths, which are actually deeply intertwined, speak to perceptions of
the “value” of volunteer engagement.

The language and vocabulary associated with volunteers may be responsible,
at least in part, for some of these assumptions. The term volunteer generally
connotes free choice, socially beneficial behavior, and the absence of market-rate
financial compensation. In a society in which people are frequently judged by
their salaries and their financial success, a service rendered at no charge is often
construed as unskilled, menial, amateur, lacking in value, operating within the
purview of thoughtless do-gooder-ism, or, in a sexist light, as “women’s work.” As
Susan Ellis points out in Chapter 2 of this book: “Men have always volunteered;
they just call themselves coaches, trustees, and firemen!”

Because volunteers are so often regarded as “free,” the notion that they might
require an investment seems paradoxical. As one executive director noted in our
focus group, “Volunteering sounds like it’s free and not worth anything,” thus, “. . .
it’s tough to convince the board to use money for volunteers.” Although it is true that
volunteers operate without receiving market-value compensation for the work
performed, serious organizational initiatives—of any type—require a strategic
vision and an outlay of time, attention, and infrastructure.

Hagar and Brudney found just this in an analysis of 3,000 charities in 2004.2

Based on extensive telephone interviews, the authors concluded that “organiza-
tions that invest in volunteer management capacity are likely to attain high net
benefits.” According to the study, key elements of an investment in volunteer
management capacity would be having a volunteer coordinator, having “regular
supervision and communication” with volunteers, buying “liability coverage or
insurance protection” for volunteers, tracking hours, and having written policies
and job descriptions for volunteers, among other things.

Hagar and Brudney expand their definition of investment to include volun-
teers themselves. This might mean, for example, giving them more responsibility
for a greater array of tasks. As the authors found, “Investment in volunteers leads

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to higher net benefits, which in turn leads charities to make an even greater
investment in their volunteers.” Surprisingly, although this finding was true for
nonprofits of all sizes, smaller organizations had slightly greater benefits when they
invested in volunteering.

So, how, then, does one tackle the argument that it might be cheating to
invest in volunteer, aka “free” labor? This is clearly tied into the complex issue
that every service organization wrestles with—how to translate intangible
services into tangible, quantifiable outcomes. What, for example, are the metrics
that demonstrate the value of counseling services? How does a crowded hospital
justify the costs associated with play space for children in an acute-care facility?
How does an organization build the case for a marketing campaign or spend
money on advertising? How does one argue the “value” of granting a final wish for
a dying child or define the worth of the consistent support provided by a big
brother or big sister? In the context of volunteer engagement, what is the value of
a volunteer’s service and how is this value identified, defined, and enumerated?

The answer, in part, is to acknowledge that most products require an under-
lying process in order to achieve a desired end goal. Yes, steel, plastic, nuts and
bolts, wires, and computer systems go into the manufacturing of a car but so does
human labor, and human labor is as vital an element of the nonprofit equation as
it is in the for-profit sector. Moving closer to home, a great many nonprofits, and
the foundations that fund them, require logic models, the linear planning tool
that traces an organization’s theory of change. Resources, or inputs, are part of the
equation leading to outputs and outcomes. When included as a tangible input in
the organization’s logic model, the outcome of the community’s effort can be
more readily measured and quantified.

Just as solar panels capture the power of the sun’s rays, we need systems that
capture the power of the “free” labor of volunteers. We need to debunk the myth
that volunteers are simply the result of the spontaneous combustion of “helping
energy” and recognize that complex human issues require complex systems to
address them. We need to focus the energy of those who want to make a
difference, we need to prepare them for service, we need to account for their effort
just as we account for the efforts of every other input, and we need to measure the
return on that investment. It is a team sport, and we need staff, experienced
volunteers, and board members who move our organizations to their finish lines.
We invest in and measure what we care about, and we care about what we invest
in and measure. (For more on this topic, see Chapter 20, “Measuring the
Volunteer Program.”)

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What Do Volunteers Want?

• Myth 3: Volunteers want only what you want.

• Myth 4: Meeting volunteers halfway is a recipe for trouble.

In contrast to nearly every other relationship in the nonprofit sector,
volunteers are often viewed as a homogenous group whose needs and motivations
for volunteering are seen either as directly aligned with the organization’s needs,
or otherwise unimportant and distracting. Furthermore, if volunteers are seen as
actually needing anything, they are considered a nuisance. As one focus group
participant noted: “Doing things to support volunteers . . . is that truly necessary? Do
I have to do appreciation lunches? We want volunteers who are focused on the [client]
and bringing them joy at no cost.” Another executive director took this concern a
step further: “Volunteers are the biggest area that I struggle with in my job. They are
time consuming. They contribute to mission drift.”

Yes, the mission of a nonprofit organization, whether a charity or a public
sector agency, is paramount. In practice, however, the needs and motivations of
some stakeholders are deemed more important than others. Effective nonprofit
relationships are characterized in win-win terms; foundations are selected based
on sympathy with certain causes, grants are written to cultivate a positive
response, and board members are solicited with an eye toward time, talent,
and treasure. When our expectations are not met in these relationships, we don’t
dismiss the entire category of stakeholder as deficient. Rather, we work to analyze
the problem and fix it.

In fact, effective exchange relationships are built on devotion to the mission,
shared understanding, clarity of expectations, appropriate boundaries, and
mutual respect. Nowhere is it stated that every applicant for a job must be
hired, nor is it necessary to engage every volunteer that walks through your door.
Carefully crafted job descriptions underpin both salaried and nonsalaried posi-
tions. What needs to be done and by when? What attitude and demeanor fit most
appropriately within this workplace? Is training a pre-requisite for this position, or
is training provided on the job? Do we need lots of people for a short time
(distributing water at a marathon fundraiser), or are we seeking a person with
specific skills (a bilingual translator)? The type of work, its nature, and duration
all become factors in the development of the relationship as well as the latitude
the manager affords the applicant, whether salaried or not. There is no “one size-
fits-all” solution.

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Yes, volunteers do “want something,” but generally it’s consistent with the
needs and desires of the organization. Volunteers want to know their time is being
well used. They want to know they can make a real difference. They may also
want job experience or a new connection to the community. They may want to
hone a new skill or make a donation.

To ascertain these needs and desires, the skills associated with effective
human resources management apply. Targeted recruitment narrows the field;
interviews illuminate motivation and temperament; and applications and back-
ground checks ascertain skill levels and hidden issues. These processes also
provide the opportunity to set expectations and select the person who is most
appropriate and exclude those who aren’t.

Staff must also be prepared to work with volunteers to assure a win-win
relationship. For example, staff members who have themselves volunteered
somewhere are more likely to identify with the needs of the volunteer and
design appropriate opportunities. Putting volunteer engagement into someone’s
job description further reduces resistance. Rewarding staff for creative teamwork
with volunteers adds incentives, giving this part of the position credibility and
excitement.

To bring the point home, it’s helpful to think about when the “issue of
volunteers” pops up within the organizational lifecycle. A developmental sketch
of the history of most nonprofits finds a group of committed individuals gathered
around a kitchen table sharing their dreams, concerns, and aspirations. These
people—yesterday’s organizational founders, today’s social innovators—channel
their energy and ideas to promote a shared common interest. Seldom are these
early innovators salaried.

In other words, they came together as volunteers. Along the way, a board is
formed, articles of incorporation filed, IRS designation sought, bylaws created,
and funds solicited. As the history of the group evolves, these early volunteers seek
funds to further their objectives and hire staff to hopefully reach new levels of
success.

Generally, it is only after an organization is reasonably well established that a
different and distinctly separate notion of volunteer emerges. Usually this is when
an organization revisits its goals and realizes that its needs exceed its resources.
Maybe volunteers can help! Of course, by this point in the evolution of the
organization, barriers to engagement have already sprung up and the kind of
robust volunteer energy, which helped launch the organization, is now consid-
ered extraneous and viewed as distracting the group from reaching its carefully

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constructed goals. Or, as one of our focus group participants observed, now the
organization “works on making sure that volunteers are giving what the organization
needs, not just doing what they want to do.” Maybe there would be fewer nonprofits
if only we could keep engaging the energy and enthusiasm of those who want to
make a difference in new and creative ways?

What Do Volunteers Do?

• Myth 5: “Volunteer work” is best described as work that staff want no
part of.

“Should we save our volunteers for envelope stuffing and hire someone to work the
front desk? Would this drive away our volunteers?”

Volunteer engagement, like any other critical aspect of organizational life,
requires forethought and alignment with the group’s mission, vision, and goals.
The question is not “What can volunteers do?” but, rather, “What work needs to
be done to achieve organizational success?”.

There are no tasks that a volunteer with the requisite training and credentials
can’t do. Medical and dental clinics can be staffed by pro bono clinicians;
attorneys and CPAs often donate their services; executives write business plans
for startups without charging for it; speakers and trainers offer workshops to
enhance skills; firefighters and first responders serve many of the nation’s
communities without compensation; cooks deliver gourmet meals; and U.S.
postage special-issue stamps are selected by citizen advisory committees.

To not harness the skills and abilities of the community leaves a valuable asset
on the cutting room table. Expanding your vision, it turns out, expands
opportunities. Or, as one executive director in the study noted, “I wish I had
known more about the literal ‘dollar value added’ . . . . I finally got that it
impacts your bottom line and that having a healthy [volunteer] program benefits
the organization.”

Developing a vision for volunteers and broader community engagement
begins with an open mind. To automatically assume that volunteers are somehow
different from the rest of us is a myopic view of the potential of community
engagement. When we add words like pro bono, trustee, intern, student, corporate
group, and friend to the litany of words that describe our volunteers, this opens us
up for skilled service opportunities, short-term as well as long-term experiences,
and space for the generalist who wants to be associated with your cause.

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WEBC03 04/18/2015 2:27:31 Page 42

Expanding our engagement circle also brings new life to the process. Most
assuredly, the staff upon whom these plans rest need to be a part of the process, as
do representatives of the community, clients, and other stakeholders whose
outreach helps us harvest the necessary resources. Likewise, it is important to
take stock of where you are with engagement efforts. Frequently, organizations
have networks that may be invisible or underutilized. You may have friends who
are waiting for the chance to be a part of your mission-critical work.

If you are new to the world of volunteerism and community engagement,
think about employing pilot programs that allow some of these ideas to be tested
and refined. Ask volunteers to help you try out ideas and establish guidelines
before large problems emerge. Explore what other organizations are doing.
Sometimes, the best ideas come from organizations unlike yours; at other times,
you may want to benchmark your success based on the work of leaders in your
organizational domain. And, finally, determine ways to measure success. How will
you know if your efforts are a success? What baseline data should you collect? Are
there new measures to establish, and if so, what are they?

The participants in the focus groups we introduced at the beginning of this
chapter left with a number of observations. One person noted that he was
“surprised that the issues are the same in a small organization as they are in a huge
organization. You’re thinking it’s not going to be quite that complicated.”
Another commented, “If you can see that having a healthy [volunteer] program
benefits the organization, and it’s a sign of a healthy organization, it would be so
much better. It’s one of the 40 million things I wish I had known.”

A point person, a vision, and the resources to spearhead the work of volunteer
engagement are the critical ingredients of success. This isn’t work that staff
want “no part of ”; rather, it’s work that moves your mission one step closer to
reality.

Conclusion

Nonprofit leaders operate in constrained economies with ambitious goals and
even greater dreams. Meaningfully incorporating community into the equation of
organizational success isn’t just a nice idea; it is essential.

In The Birth of the Chaordic Age, Dee Hock’s account of the founding of VISA
International, which he led for 16 years before stepping away from business
leadership, speaks eloquently about the nonmonetary exchange of value and

42 VOLUNTEER ENGAGEMENT 2.0

Rosenthal, R. J. (Ed.). (2015). Volunteer engagement 2. 0 : Ideas and insights changing the world. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.
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WEBC03 04/18/2015 2:27:31 Page 43

essence of community. In going beyond the myths of volunteer engagement, his
words might help to spur us forward:

Without an abundance of nonmaterial values and equal abundance of non-
monetary exchange of material value, no true community ever existed or ever
will. Community is not about profit. It is about benefit (p. 43) . . . . It is a
mistake to confuse money with value. It is a mistake to believe that all value can
be measured. And it is a colossal mistake to attempt to monetize all value
(p. 44) . . . . The essence of community, its very heart and soul, is the non-
monetary exchange of value; things we do and share because we care for others,
and for the good of the place (p. 42) . . . . Life is a gift, bearing a gift, which is the
art of giving. And community is the place where we can give our gifts and receive
the gifts of others. (p. 45)

Thoughtfully, meaningfully, and effectively engaging the community in the
life of nonprofit and public service organizations is the gift of community, a gift
that the volunteer brings to the organization and the organization provides to the
volunteer.

Dr. Sarah Jane Rehnborg is Associate Director of The RGK Center of
Philanthropy and Community Service and a lecturer in the LBJ School
of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin. Sarah is a member
of the Reimagining Service Council and serves as a consultant, speaker, and
trainer for numerous local and national organizations. She served as Presi-
dent of the Association for Volunteer Administration, developed the field’s
performance-based certification system, and served on the founding board
of the Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration. Sarah earned a
PhD from the University of Pittsburgh.

Notes

1. Sarah Jane Rehnborg et al., Strategic Volunteer Engagement: A Guide for Nonprofit and Public
Sector Leaders, RGK Center for Philanthropy & Community Service, the LBJ School of Public
Affairs, the University of Texas at Austin, 2009.

2. Mark A. Hagar and Jeff Brudney, Balancing Act: The Challenges and Benefits of Volunteers
(Washington, DC: The Urban Institute, 2004).

DEBUNKING THE MYTHS OF VOLUNTEER ENGAGEMENT 43

Rosenthal, R. J. (Ed.). (2015). Volunteer engagement 2. 0 : Ideas and insights changing the world. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.
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CHAPTER 1

Volunteer Models and Management
R. Dale Safrit, EdD

North Carolina State University

Ryan Schmiesing, PhD
Ohio Community Service Council

This chapter introduces and defines the concept of volunteer management. His-torical models of volunteer management are described, culminating in an in-
depth description of the only model of contemporary volunteer management based
on empirical data collected from actual volunteer managers, the PEP Model of Volun-
teer Administration: (Personal) Preparation, (Volunteer) Engagement, and (Program)
Perpetuation.

Volunteers and Their Essential Management

The social phenomenon of volunteerism has had enormous positive effects on indi-
viduals, their families and communities, and entire cultures for well over two centu-
ries in the United States and for at least half a century in western Europe and other
areas around the globe (Ellis & Noyes, 1990; Govaart, van Daal, M€unz, & Keesom,
2001; Jedlicka, 1990). Even in times of national economic slowdowns, individuals
continue to readily give their time, energies, and talents to other individuals and
groups (other than family members) with no expectation for financial remuneration
(Gose, 2009). And while informal volunteerism continues to thrive at the individual
and grassroots organizational levels, steady numbers of individuals also continue to
volunteer within formal programs and organizations. The United States Department
of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (2008) concluded that during the 12 months

This chapter is based on an article coauthored by the chapter’s authors with Joseph A. Gliem
and Rosemary R. Gliem of The Ohio State University, published in 2005 in Journal of Volunteer
Administration 23(3). Portions of the original article have been duplicated verbatim with writ-
ten permission of the editor of the International Journal of Volunteer Administration.

3
Connors, T. D. (Ed.). (2011). The volunteer management handbook : Leadership strategies for success. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.
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between September of 2007 and 2008, almost 62 million people volunteered for
formal organizations in the United States; this roughly corresponds to almost 27%
of the population aged 16 and over. Most volunteers were involved with either one
or two organizations—68.9% and 19.8%, respectively.

In today’s complex society and era of rapid social and technological change, it is
essential that formal programs and organizations engaging volunteers do so within a
logical, holistic, systematic process that maximizes a volunteer’s impacts on the
program’s/organization’s clientele being served while minimizing inconveniences
and demands on the volunteer as an individual. While it is important to consider and
respect each volunteer as a unique individual, large numbers of volunteers focusing
on a single clientele or working within a single program require a higher level
of organizational coordination in order for the organization to meet its mission and fulfill
its commitments to the volunteers served. Thus, it is essential that all formal
volunteer-based programs and organizations develop a consistent and logical approach
(or model) to engaging and sustaining (or managing) volunteer involvement. (In actual-
ity, we would argue that even informal volunteer initiatives would also benefit from a
logical and consistent approach to engaging and sustaining volunteers, but that is a dis-
cussion for another time and place.) This chapter explores the concept of volunteer
management, both historically and today, and its essentials components.

Concept of Management

Any discussion of volunteer management must begin with a discussion of the founda-
tion concept of management itself. According to Kreitner (1998), “Management is the
process of working with and through others to achieve organizational objectives in a
changing environment. Central to this process is the effective and efficient use of lim-
ited resources” (p. 5). Kreitner further identifies eight fundamental management func-
tions that also readily apply to volunteer programs and organizations:

1. Planning “is the formulation of future courses of action” (Kreitner, 1998, p. 14).
Paid staff in volunteer organizations must plan for the services and/or programs
offered to clientele. And, of course, they must also plan how to identify, engage,
and sustain the volunteers involved in delivering the services and/or programs.
Serafino (2010, p. 104) concluded that “[p]lanning is a complex activity [in volun-
teer organizations], perhaps made more complex by the involvement of
volunteers.”

2. Decision making involves managers “choosing among alternative courses of
action” (Kreitner, 1998, p. 15). In volunteer-based programs, decisions must be
made regarding which clientele to serve, how to best serve them, and which vol-
unteers to accept into the organization. Yallen (2010) specifically discusses the
need for volunteer administrators to be competent in making ethical decisions.

3. Organizing involves “structural considerations such as the chain of command,
division of labor, and assignment of responsibility” (Kreitner 1998, p. 15).
Managers in volunteer organizations must decide which paid staff member will be
responsible for managing the organization’s volunteers, to whom that individual
will report, and if that will be a full-time responsibility or if the individual will also
have additional professional responsibilities (e.g., fundraising, marketing, etc.)

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Peach and Murrell (1995) discussed a systems approach to organizing in volunteer
organizations and concluded that “replicating current cutting-edge organizing mod-
els will lead to…evolving even more innovative organizational models unique to
the volunteer worker culture” (p. 232).

4. Staffing “consists of recruiting, training, and developing people who can con-
tribute to the organization” (Kreitner, 1998, p. 15). In volunteer organizations,
staffing applies to securing and managing both paid staff and volunteers.
Krywood (2010) provides an excellent discussion on staffing within volunteer
organizations.

5. Communicating involves “managers…communicating to their employees the
technical knowledge, instructions, rules, and information required to get the job
done” (Kreitner, 1998, p. 15). Volunteers are a critical second targeted group for
communications in a volunteer organization. Macduff (1995) discussed the critical
role of communications in volunteer organizations and concluded that
“[v]olunteers and [paid] staff need policies, procedures, and structures that permit
and encourage them to communicate” (p. 210).

6. Motivating involves encouraging “individuals to pursue collective objectives by
satisfying needs and meeting expectations with meaningful work and valued
rewards” (Kreitner, 1998, p. 15). The topic of volunteer motivation has been well
studied and commented on for decades. An entire issue of the International Jour-
nal of Volunteer Administration is dedicated to the topic of volunteer motivation
(e.g., Finkelstein, 2007; Littlepage, Perry, Brudney, & Goff, 2007; Starnes, 2007;
Yoshioka, Brown, & Ashcraft, 2007).

7. Leading involves managers “serving as role models and adapting their manage-
ment style to the demands of the situation” (Kreitner, 1998, p. 15). Managers of
volunteers are very often directly engaged along with volunteers in delivering ser-
vices or programs to clientele, thus serving as role models. Varella (2010) con-
cluded that leaders in organizations engaging volunteers “must fully appreciate
how their own leadership abilities help foster the motivation of volunteers”
(p. 434).

8. Controlling involves “managers [comparing] desired results with actual results
and [taking] necessary corrective action” (Kreitner, 1998, p. 15). The concept of
“control” is sometimes considered a negative concept wherein one individual
attempts to maintain power (or “control”) over another individual or group of
individuals. In reality, controlling is readily practiced in volunteer programs and
could better be considered under the more widely used term of “supervision.”
Volunteer managers sometimes must decide that an individual’s involvement as a
volunteer is no longer in the best interest of the clientele served, the volunteer,
and/or the overall organization and subsequently must take corrective action
(Herman, 2010); this is only one example of control in a volunteer organization.
Practices involving fiscal management (Kerr, 2010) and quality improvement
(Alaimo, 2010) are other examples of controlling in volunteer organizations.

Concepts of Volunteer and Volunteerism

The second foundational concept in volunteer management that must be defined
along with the concept of management itself is, of course, the concept of volunteer

Volunteers and Their Essential Management 5

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(or volunteerism). The literature is replete with myriad individual approaches to and
definitions of both of these social phenomena, some of which are controversial (Brud-
ney, 1999). As early as 1967, Naylor identified volunteers serving as a committee or
board member as administrative volunteers and those that provided direct service to
others as operational volunteers. Park (1983) suggested that “the heart of volunteerism
is the countless individual acts of commitment encompassing an endless variety of…
tasks” (p. 118), while Smith (1989) considered a volunteer as anyone who reaches out
beyond the confines of their paid employment and their normal responsibilities to con-
tribute time and service to a not-for-profit cause in the belief that their activity is benefi-
cial to others as well as satisfying to themselves. Safrit, King, and Burscu (1994) defined
volunteerism operationally as “giving time, energies, or talents to any individual or
group for which [the individual] is not paid” (p. 7).

Space in this chapter does not provide for an exhaustive discussion of these
concepts. Rather, we basically adhere to Safrit, King, and Burscu’s (1994) operational
definition of “volunteer” and to Merrill and Safrit’s (2000) conclusions that a “volun-
teer” is anyone who performs “volunteerism” and that any contemporary definition of
volunteerism involves four fundamental tenets:

1. Volunteerism implies active involvement.
2. Volunteerism is (relatively) uncoerced.
3. Volunteerism is not motivated primarily by financial gain.
4. Volunteerism focuses on the common good.

Defining “Volunteer Management”

The ultimate purpose of the discussion in this section is to arrive at a contemporary
definition of the process through which an individual (paid or unpaid) may most ef-
fectively and efficiently coordinate the contributions of individual volunteers seeking
to help a formal organization or agency fulfill its mission. Consequently, and based on
the management and volunteerism literature, we define volunteer management as the
systematic and logical process of working with and through volunteers to achieve and
organization’s objectives in an ever-changing environment. Central to this definition is
the effective and efficient engagement of volunteers as human resources who are
respected and valued for both their individual and collective contributions toward the
organization’s mission and vision. (Of course, this conceptual definition of volunteer
management would involve various fundamental subconstructs or components that
would operationally define the concept in greater detail while synergistically contribu-
ting to the overall concept’s definition.)

The individual who manages volunteers within these parameters is logically
called a “volunteer manager” or “volunteer resource manager.” This individual may
be a paid or unpaid staff member. (However, the former term often is discouraged in
some contemporary associations involving paid managers of volunteers since to the
uninformed, “volunteer manager” could be interpreted as a volunteer managing any
aspect of the organization’s operations or programs.) If that individual is a paid staff
member who also performs administrative duties involving policy development
or implementation regarding the volunteers being managed, or has fiduciary responsi-
bilities regarding the volunteers’ involvement in the organization, then the term

6 Volunteer Models and Management

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“volunteer administrator” could likewise apply. In their exhaustive Internet search of
the literature, Brudney and Heinlein (2010) found nine separate titles used to describe
professionals and practitioners in this field, including volunteer manager and volun-
teer administrator as well as administrator of volunteers, volunteer coordinator, coor-
dinator of volunteers, manager of volunteers, director of volunteers,
volunteer director, and community organizer.

Review of Major Volunteer Resource Management Models

Volunteer management has evolved as societies continue to change, requiring new
strategies to meet the emerging needs of people in communities around the world
through volunteerism. In the United States, from the early days of neighbors helping
neighbors to the current virtual volunteering, volunteerism has played an important
role in helping address the nation’s challenges (Ellis & Noyes, 1990). In addition to the
emergence of national service as a catalyst to increase volunteer engagement, strategic
initiatives to engage baby boomers, college students, families, and virtual volunteering
have all contributed to the growth of volunteerism in the United States. In fact, in 2009,
1.6 million more individuals volunteered than during the previous year (Corporation for
National and Community Service, 2010). While still considered a relatively young pro-
fession, volunteer management nonetheless has played an important role in the evolu-
tion of volunteerism around the world and will continue to be important as more
people volunteer and new strategies are introduced to engage individuals as volunteers.
Historically, managers of volunteers have accepted responsibilities related to the identi-
fication, selection, orientation, training, utilization, recognition, and evaluation of volun-
teers, commonly referred to as ISOTURE (Boyce, 1971).

In her 1967 book, Volunteers Today: Finding, Training and Working with
Them, Harriet Naylor was the first author to publish a text that focused on volun-
teer management. Following Boyce’s seminal work of connecting leadership de-
velopment to volunteer engagement, numerous authors and practitioners have
suggested specific yet varied requisite foundational knowledge and skills for the
effective and efficient administration of volunteer programs (Brudney, 1990; Culp,
Deppe, Castillo, & Wells, 1998; Ellis, 1996; Fisher & Cole, 1993; Kwarteng, Smith,
& Miller, 1988; Navarre, 1989; Penrod, 1991; Safrit, Smith, & Cutler, 1994; Steppu-
tat, 1995; Wilson, 1976). In-depth and thorough reviews of each of these works
have revealed similarities and disparities among the authors’ ideas regarding vol-
unteer management competencies as well as similar findings and/or suggestions
concerning the needed competencies for managers of volunteer programs to be suc-
cessful (Safrit & Schmiesing, 2004, 2005). The remainder of this section provides an
overview of the more popular models that have been used and adopted in the United
States and around the world by volunteer managers.

Naylor (1967)

According to Wilson (1992), “The first book for our field was in 1967 Harriet Naylor:
Volunteers Today: Finding, Training and Working with Them” (p. 45). According to
Naylor (1967) herself, that “book was directed to those in leadership positions in

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organizations which require the unpaid work of citizens in administration and pro-
gram services. Such citizen volunteers may serve in meeting need for subsistence,
health, education, cultural and aesthetic experience, and social acceptance” (p. 8).
While Naylor never actually used the term “volunteer management” or “volunteer re-
source management,” she described the critical components of a plan for the develop-
ment of volunteer leadership in organizations wherein paid and volunteer staff work
hand in hand to fulfill the mission of the overarching organization. Naylor’s approach
to volunteer development included seven critical components:

1. An inventory of jobs
2. An inventory of volunteers
3. A recruitment plan
4. A selection and placement process
5. Induction and supervision
6. A comprehensive and unified training program
7. Provision for volunteer mobility (i.e., volunteers leaving their position and the

organization)

Regarding the two components inventories of jobs and volunteers, Naylor empha-
sized “analyzing the work to be done [by volunteers] and dividing it into person-sized
parts” (1967, p. 174) correlated with the “registration of all active individuals and a con-
tinuing record or prospects and new recruits to be matched against the jobs and vacan-
cies discovered” (p. 175). As far as we can determine, Naylor was the first author to
publish actual written volunteer job descriptions, one for what she termed “administra-
tive volunteers” and a second for “program volunteers” (pp. 82–83). Following her two
initial components was the development of a recruitment plan that used “an individual-
ized approach, concentrated on [finding] particular individuals to fill specific vacancies”
(p. 175). Selection and placement emphasized that “enough time and enough informa-
tion must be available to the advisory staff and to the person appointing for both of
them to consider carefully the qualifications of candidates and their potential for a job
that is vacant” (p. 176). Induction and supervision ensured that a new volunteer was
adequately introduced to the sponsoring organization and that the volunteer and super-
vising staff shared responsibility for the volunteer’s continued success with the given
task. Naylor was again the first author to publish standard volunteer training plan com-
ponents involving the sequencing of volunteer training, actual teaching methods appro-
priate for volunteers, and considerations for approaching volunteers as adult learners.
Finally, “a carefully individualized process for [volunteer] promotion, transfer, and sepa-
ration of volunteers from the job” (p. 178) addressed the mobility of volunteers both
within the organization and among volunteer organizations. Naylor emphasized the im-
portance of formal exit interviews and referrals when a volunteer decided to leave the
organization, for whatever reason.

Boyce (1971)

One of the most highly recognized models of volunteer resource management was
first proposed by Milton Boyce in the early 1970s. Boyce’s work provided a much-
needed framework for the profession and originally was implemented through the

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national Cooperative Extension Service system. The model adopted by Boyce with a
focus on volunteerism as leadership development was originally developed by
Dr. Robert Dolan, professor of adult education at North Carolina State University. Im-
portantly, Boyce stated that “the leadership development process is a systematic ap-
proach whereby individuals are offered the opportunity to increase their ability to
influence the behavior of members of a social group” (1971, p. 3). Although it is a
systematic process, it should be noted that “the leadership development process is
continuous and this model is only a guide, not a prescription” (p. 15).

The model, commonly referred to as the ISOTURE model, introduced the man-
agement concepts of:

1. Identification. The process of finding people who have the competencies and
attitudes essential to fill specific leadership positions

2. Selection. The process of studying the backgrounds of those potential leaders
identified and desired, and motivating them to fill selected positions

3. Orientation. The process of orientating those leaders selected in the role expect-
ations of the leader position

4. Training. The process of stimulating and supporting leaders’ efforts to acquire
knowledge and to develop attitudes and skills that will improve the quality of
their performance in leader positions

5. Utilization. The process of providing the opportunity for leaders to put acquired
knowledge and skills into action in the most appropriate way, and provide them
an opportunity to function

6. Recognition. The process of recognizing and rewarding sound leader performance
7. Evaluation. The process of determining results of leader performance

Like many authors who have come after him, Boyce emphasized evaluation but
pointed out that “evaluation must be used to appraise the behavior of the volunteer
leader since one of the goals of leader training and leader utilization is to provide
growth in the leaders themselves” (1971, p. 15). The focus on the growth and devel-
opment of the volunteer leader was unique at that time, and we could argue that it still
is unique today.

While published nearly 40 years ago, Boyce’s model of volunteer management pro-
vided the foundation for the volunteer management profession. The ISOTURE
approach to volunteer leader development suggested seven subcategories inherent in
volunteer management that remain relevant today and may be found in many, if not all
models, that followed his work. Using Boyce’s conceptual model more than two decades
later, Safrit et al. (1994) developed BLAST: Building Leadership and Skills Together, a
volunteer management curriculum targeted toward 4-H Youth Development professio-
nals. This resource, utilized extensively across the U.S. Cooperative Extension Service,
includes tools, resources, and worksheets for the volunteer manager.

Wilson (1976)

One of the first to emerge with a focus on the salaried volunteer administrator of vol-
unteers, Marlene Wilson proposed the necessary components for paid staff to be suc-
cessful and have an effective program engaging volunteers. Wilson placed heavy

Review of Major Volunteer Resource Management Models 9

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emphasis on the humane aspects of a management model and stressed the impor-
tance of the organizational climate that volunteers would be experiencing. The paid
staff member has significant influence over the climate in an organization, and it is
important that the volunteer resource manager focus on the nine dimensions that de-
fine climate that were originally proposed by Litwin and Stringer (1968). Wilson sug-
gested strategies that might influence climate, including how an administrator might
create an achievement-, affiliation-, or power-oriented climate. It is clear in her work
that to Wilson, popular management and leadership functions applied to the role of
the paid administrator were keys to creating the right culture and climate for volun-
teers, paid staff, and service recipients. In her model, Wilson relied heavily on man-
agement theory and practices from such authors and practitioners as Peter Drucker,
Ken Blanchard, and Paul Hersey.

Wilson applied the theory of motivation to the functional steps of recruiting, inter-
viewing and placing, supervising, and retaining volunteers. She stressed the impor-
tance of recruiting potential volunteers in a manner that highlighted the importance of
their motivational factors. The interview stage provided the first real,
in-depth opportunity for the paid administrator to determine the needs and goals of
the potential volunteer and if they were congruent with those of the organization.
Wilson suggested that it was important to understand if people are achievement,
affiliation, or power oriented as that motivation greatly influenced the administrator’s
decision making and further advanced the notion that not one model fits all volun-
teers. Finally, retaining volunteers was closely tied to the reward and recognition
structure of the organization. Understanding the motivation of individuals and groups
would greatly inform the management functions and how they were applied in the
volunteer setting.

Brudney (1990)

Jeffrey Brudney suggested steps that focused on mobilizing volunteers for public ser-
vice in communities, basing a great deal of his discussion and recommendations on
the results of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Service Corps of Retired
Executives (SCORE Association) study published in 1988. Growth in volunteerism in
public services had been driven by several factors, including calls from public officials
and the fiscal climate at the time of the book’s publication, which was remarkably
similar to today’s environment. Additionally, Brudney identified the increasingly posi-
tive relationships between public administrators and citizens at the local level, result-
ing in increased volunteer rates through public programs. Regardless of the reason, it
was important that volunteer managers in the public sector recognize the importance
of formally managing volunteer programs.

Brudney identified the internal work that must be done to prepare for a successful
volunteer program. Public sector entities must:

1. Identify reasons to have volunteers and the needs within the organization to im-
prove services.

2. Gain employee perspectives and buy-in.
3. Develop a sound organizational structure, including housing the program.
4. Identify a director of volunteer services to provide overall leadership.

10 Volunteer Models and Management

Connors, T. D. (Ed.). (2011). The volunteer management handbook : Leadership strategies for success. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.
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Once this initial preparation work has been completed, the agency is ready to
develop the core components that would lead to successful volunteer engagement.

Brudney outlined the core components that must be developed and imple-
mented, including the position description and recruiting, screening, placing
volunteers, educating, evaluating, and recognizing volunteers. An additional and im-
portant component advocated by Brudney was the training of employees in volun-
teer management and supervision that was highlighted by Walter (1987), who
indicated that there was little in the background of the public employee that would
support their success in volunteer management. Education and training provided to
employees was a significant strategy to help overcome resistance that was likely to
emerge.

A major part of Brudney’s work was also devoted to the concept of the costs
and benefits of having a volunteer program. Brudney advocated the importance
of understanding these two concepts along with the potential pitfalls that may be
encountered by the public agency. The displacement of paid employees, espe-
cially during an economic crisis, was (and still is) a critical issue for public agen-
cies (really all agencies) to fully understand. To evaluate the cost effectiveness of
a volunteer program, Brudney outlined a six-step process and applied it to the
SCORE program as an example.

A concept that Brudney incorporated into his work was how volunteers can im-
prove service quality and impact. To that end, Brudney emphasized the service per-
formance of volunteers and how important it was that they were trained and
educated, in an effort to avoid poor performance that may lead to lack of impact. Vol-
unteers could contribute significantly to an organization’s performance and outreach
in communities, especially in those situations where public agencies did not have, nor
ever had, funds to hire paid staff.

Penrod (1991)

Kathryn Penrod developed the L-O-O-P model of volunteer management with a focus
on the concepts of locating, orientating, operating, and perpetuating volunteers and
volunteerism. Built on these four concepts, Penrod suggested that they are not inde-
pendent of each other but rather blend together with each being integral to the overall
success of the total model. The locating concept addresses the steps of volunteer re-
cruitment and selection and the important considerations that these steps
involved. The location step of the model focuses on matching the organization’s
needs with the individual volunteer’s skills and interests. Additionally, through the se-
lection process, it is important to determine the potential volunteer’s needs and match
those with organizational needs.

The orientation step of the L-O-O-P model focused on strategies to educate the
new volunteer, including formal and informal processes. Potential or new volunteers
have many ways to collect information about an organization, including newspapers,
printed brochures, electronic media, talking with others, and questions asked during
their initial inquiry about volunteering with the organization. The formal process of
orientation is more structured and includes the explanation of the organization’s rules,
policies, by-laws, and standard operating procedures. While the organization
may controlled the formal orientation, they do not control the informal processes

Review of Major Volunteer Resource Management Models 11

Connors, T. D. (Ed.). (2011). The volunteer management handbook : Leadership strategies for success. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.
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and must recognize that individuals do not always interpret information received as it
is intended by the organization.

Penrod introduced the term “operating” when referring to volunteer engagement,
the impact that volunteers have in communities, and the impact of volunteering on a
volunteer’s individual growth. Penrod indicated that it is important that volunteers
know that their service is meaningful and that they have an impact. The educational
process began during the orientation phase but continued throughout a volunteer’s
tenure with the organization. Penrod believed that the learning processes in which
the volunteers are engaged (e.g., new ideas, meeting new people, learning new meth-
ods, etc.) are forms of payment for their service. Also included in this component were
the accomplishments of the volunteers and the opportunity for them to be engaged in
service that is meaningful to the organization, service recipients, and themselves. It is
important that the leader of volunteers recognize the accomplishments of volunteers
since they may not also acknowledge this fact or recognize the importance of high-
lighting the accomplishments.

Perpetuating the involvement of volunteers is a concept with which Penrod con-
cluded the L-O-O-P model; it consists of the evaluation of the volunteer experience
and recognition for a volunteer’s efforts. Evaluation is an important but difficult task,
but it must be completed, focus on the tasks completed by the volunteer, and be con-
structive in terms of the feedback provided. Penrod, like many others, suggested that
recognition be consistent with the desires of the individual volunteers and be varied to
meet the needs of many. Most important, perhaps, is that the L-O-O-P model suggests
that recognition of volunteer efforts should be done throughout a project, and not
simply at the conclusion of the project or program year.

Fisher and Cole (1993)

James Fisher and Kathleen Cole recognized the importance of professional develop-
ment of the volunteer manager since so many were coming into the profession with
little previous experience or education directly related to their position’s responsibili-
ties. The authors identified and raised the importance of the leadership functions of a
volunteer manager; a leader must set direction, encourage others to buy into the di-
rection, and inspire others to become engaged and support the direction/vision.
Fisher and Cole incorporated the work of Bennis (1987), who identified key aspects
of leadership, including: the leader as a visionary, sharing the vision, fulfilling the
vision, and the leader as an advocate. Additionally, Fisher and Cole identified
managerial functions important to the volunteer manager and the importance for
nonprofit and volunteer organizations to adopt sound management functions.

Fisher and Cole suggested that both personnel management and program man-
agement functions were important to the role of the volunteer manager. Personnel
management focuses on the identification of volunteer roles and preparing the organi-
zation to engage volunteers. Functionally, the manager must work with other units
and departments in the organization to identify tasks for potential volunteers and
then work with other paid staff supporting the service of volunteers once they are
engaged. Additionally, volunteer managers play a key role in relationships within the
organization and the community. Program management functions include the on-
going staffing operations and budgeting and fiscal issues that are important to the

12 Volunteer Models and Management

Connors, T. D. (Ed.). (2011). The volunteer management handbook : Leadership strategies for success. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.
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success of volunteer programs. Overall, the volunteer manager has broad responsibili-
ties for the climate in the organization to ensure that others were prepared from lead-
ership and management perspectives to engage volunteers.

Training and development are critical to the success of the volunteer program in
the Fisher and Cole model. Volunteers come to organizations with varying levels of
experience and knowledge; thus, it is imperative for the organization to prepare the
volunteers to serve in specific roles. Volunteers must learn about the organization,
their specific volunteer position, changes and transitions that are likely to take place,
and different opportunities for increased responsibility. Supervising volunteers, as
others have indicated, is not a one-size-fits-all model. Volunteers have different needs,
desires, interests, and motives, and each needs to be considered when designing a
supervision strategy within an organization. Volunteer managers need to know if their
organization is centralized or decentralized; this helps determine if one or more paid
staff would supervise volunteers or if the structure requires volunteers to supervise
volunteers. Regardless of who is supervising volunteers, the training, education, and
support for those individuals is important and essentially a requirement for it to be
successful.

Demonstrating the value of volunteer programs is the final component of the
model proposed by Fisher and Cole. The focus is on evaluation and understanding
that it may be on the process, the results, or the overall impact of volunteer engage-
ment. The authors described the essential components of an effective evaluation, in-
cluding the need to identify the goals of the evaluation, who/what to evaluate, data
collection strategies, qualitative versus quantitative data analysis and ultimately com-
municating the results.

Fisher and Cole (1993) stated that “a discussion of the professionalization of vol-
unteer administration often focuses on two major parts: the feasibility of professional-
ization and the advisability of professionalization” (p. 165). They recognized that the
field of volunteer management is broad and the benefits/costs of professionalization
are difficult to ascertain. A strong knowledge base, standards for entry into the profes-
sion, standards for practice, a distinctive subculture, and awareness in which the pub-
lic is apprised of activities are important for the professionalization of volunteer
management. Volunteer managers should develop their own personal philosophy of
volunteer involvement. In addition, their perspectives and philosophies are also im-
portant catalysts and influences within their organizations as they evolve and deploy
the organizational volunteerism philosophy best suited to fulfilling an organization’s
strategic vision and mission.

Stepputat (1995)

Arlene Stepputat identified ten overarching categories that are necessary for success-
ful volunteer resource management:

1. Recruitment
2. Application, interview, and screening
3. Orientation and training
4. Placement
5. Supervision and evaluation

Review of Major Volunteer Resource Management Models 13

Connors, T. D. (Ed.). (2011). The volunteer management handbook : Leadership strategies for success. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.
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6. Recognition
7. Retention
8. Record keeping
9. Evaluation

10. Advocacy and education

Like other authors, Stepputat believed that the role of volunteer manager is unlike any
other professional position in an organization and is not clearly understood by many,
even those in the nonprofit sector.

Educating and preparing professional volunteer managers is an important compo-
nent of the Stepputat model, recognizing the need to engage with other paid staff and
support their work with volunteers. Additionally, policy development and implemen-
tation are key components to the volunteer manager’s roles and responsibilities,
emphasizing that volunteers are an additional human resource and that the interaction
between all other departments/units of the organization will increase the likelihood of
success.

A primary role of the volunteer manager, according to Stepputat, is that of advo-
cating for volunteers and volunteerism within the organization and the community.
This advocacy is more than simply communicating the importance of volunteerism;
rather it also includes taking specific steps to make sure that volunteers are engaged
in special programs, training, or recognition events. Additionally, advocacy strategies
should extend to understanding state and federal legislation that may affect volunteer
engagement and organizational policy development that has implications on volun-
teer engagement.

Ellis (1996)

Susan Ellis placed a significant emphasis on the executive leaders of an organization
and their involvement as necessary for successful volunteer programs, beyond engag-
ing just when something went wrong. Recognizing that the nonsalaried
personnel department of an agency is the volunteer program, Ellis argued that it de-
served as much attention as the salaried personnel department. Before engaging vol-
unteers, Ellis suggested that organizations must develop a statement of philosophy,
goals and objectives, policies, management structure, organizational chart, and what
they want to communicate about the organization. Having each of these components
in place prior to engaging volunteers results in an organization that is prepared for
volunteers, thus significantly increasing the likelihood of success.

Ellis suggested that organizational leaders must allocate adequate resources, since
volunteer engagement is not free. Consideration must be given to space and facilities,
furniture and equipment, telephone, supplies, travel, postage, insurance, recognition,
evaluation, and training/orientation. Another significant expense is the personnel as-
signed to direct the volunteer program, regardless of the percentage of time that the
individual focuses on volunteer management. In addition to many of the expenses just
identified, there also are expenses associated with the professional development of
paid staff and engagement of advisory and support committees.

Building on the planning and staffing functions that Ellis identified, organiza-
tions must prepare for and manage volunteer and employee relationships.

14 Volunteer Models and Management

Connors, T. D. (Ed.). (2011). The volunteer management handbook : Leadership strategies for success. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.
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Organizational leaders must plan for those employees who refuse to accept volun-
teers, perceived threats from paid staff, tension between volunteers and staff, and
volunteer resistance. Many, if not all, of these challenges can be overcome with
proper planning and education of current paid staff prior to engaging volunteers.
Strategies are offered, including incorporating language that emphasizes working
with volunteers in paid staff position descriptions, training for paid and volunteer
staff, and a clear delineation of roles and responsibilities. Organizational leaders
must be cognizant of legal issues associated with issues of confidentiality, employer/
employee relationships, liability and injuries, car insurance, board member indemni-
fication, and conflict and dispute resolution. Program leaders must determine not
only what to assess but also how to carry this assessment in an ongoing manner.
Likewise, organizations should be cautious not to try to compare the accomplish-
ments of volunteers to paid staff since this may cause more challenges; however, it
is important to evaluate the service of individual volunteers and the performance of
paid staff directly involved in the volunteer program or who are supervising volun-
teers. Finally, Ellis provided justification for why it is important to calculate the true
costs of the volunteer program, including the donated time of volunteers, and
supplied work sheets to calculate these into organizational budgets.

Culp, Deppe, Castillo, and Wells (1998)

The generate, educate, mobilize, and sustain (GEMS) model of volunteer administra-
tion built on the models already described as well as the Volunteer Management
Cycle proposed by Lawson and Lawson (1987) and the Volunteer Professional Model
for Human Services Agencies and Counselors developed by Lenihan and Jackson
(1984). Lawson and Lawson focused their work on the religious community and in-
cluded many of the same components as previously described. Lenihan and Jackson
focused their work on community agencies and professional counselors with their
model “designed specifically for those who are encouraged by their employer or com-
pany to serve in volunteer roles with human service agencies” (p. 37).

The GEMS model consists of four distinct concepts of generating, educating,
mobilizing, and sustaining volunteer efforts. Generating includes six phases: conduct-
ing a needs assessment, writing position descriptions, and identifying, recruiting,
screening, and selecting volunteers. Educating includes the four components of orien-
tating, protecting, resourcing, and teaching. It is worth noting that the “protecting”
terminology is unique and includes how an organization addresses risk management
broadly, including conflict resolution and appropriate behaviors. The resourcing
phase continues the more recent acknowledgment that volunteer management is not
free and that there are real and direct costs associated with engaging volunteers.

The mobilizing phase of the GEMS model of volunteer administration includes
engaging, motivating, and supervising volunteers. Ken Culp and his coauthors built
on and incorporated motivation theory highlighted by Wilson (1976). Finally, the
model concludes with the sustaining component that included evaluation, re-
cognition, retention, redirection, and disengagement. Following a more contemporary
acknowledgment of the similarities between paid and volunteer staff, the GEMS
model recognizes that organizations sometimes have to be orientated again if they
are implementing a new volunteer position or receiving a less than desirable

Review of Major Volunteer Resource Management Models 15

Connors, T. D. (Ed.). (2011). The volunteer management handbook : Leadership strategies for success. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.
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evaluation. Additionally, the model recognizes the need to disengage volunteers,
either through their own decision or the decision of the organizational leaders. An
important component of the GEMS model is that volunteers may enter the model at
whatever phase is necessary or that the volunteer resource manager can determine
that individuals need to reenter a component at a given time; in other words, the
model is not linear.

Comparing the Models: Similarities and Differences

Exhibit 1.1 depicts the volunteer management models discussed in this chapter.
In-depth and thorough reviews of each of the previously identified works revealed
respective both similarities and disparities among the authors’ ideas regarding volun-
teer management competencies, as well as similar findings and/or suggestions
concerning the needed competencies for managers of volunteer programs to be suc-
cessful (Safrit & Schmiesing, 2004, 2005). Many, if not all, volunteer management
models have built on the early work of Boyce (1971) and include in some format the
seven components of leadership development that he adopted from the field of adult
learning and applied to volunteer management.

It could be argued that, to a degree, all of the models discussed are basically the
same, with the only differences being the words used to describe a specific compo-
nent or that some components are embedded within others and thus not easily identi-
fiable. The authors discussed recognize that volunteer management approaches have
to expand beyond a focus on the individual volunteer to address organizational sys-
tems as well. Developing a volunteer management model based on best practices,
Wilson (1976) focused on the critical practical roles of salaried managers or volun-
teers, including motivating volunteers; establishing a positive organizational climate
for volunteer involvement; planning and evaluating volunteer programs; developing
volunteer job descriptions; recruiting, interviewing, and placing volunteers; and effec-
tive communications. Another pragmatic approach was proposed by MacKenzie and
Moore (1993), who identified fundamental management principles and practices for-
matted into worksheets to assist the day-to-day manager of volunteers. Ellis (1996)
identified components of volunteer management by proposing professional,
administrative approaches to volunteer management. Navarre (1989) approached vol-
unteer management from a staff management focus in grassroots volunteer organiza-
tions. Navarre’s focus included the importance of having written job descriptions;
recruiting, interviewing, orienting, and training new volunteers; and volunteer super-
vision, evaluation, and motivation. Approaching volunteer management in a very sim-
ilar manner, Stepputat (1995) identified ten overarching categories that were
necessary for successful volunteer management, including recruitment; screening; ori-
entation and training; placement; supervision and evaluation; recognition; retention;
record keeping; evaluation; and advocacy and education. Finally, Brudney (1990)
identified practical components for public agencies to implement in order to mobilize
volunteers for public service in communities.

From a purely conceptual approach, several authors developed volunteer man-
agement models within the context of the United States Cooperative Extension
System. Kwarteng et al. (1988) identified eight conceptual components to volunteer
administration: planning volunteer programs; clarifying volunteer tasks; and the

16 Volunteer Models and Management

Connors, T. D. (Ed.). (2011). The volunteer management handbook : Leadership strategies for success. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.
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17
Connors, T. D. (Ed.). (2011). The volunteer management handbook : Leadership strategies for success. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.
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recruitment, orientation, training, support/maintenance, recognition, and evaluation
of actual volunteers. Penrod’s (1991) L-O-O-P model suggested these conceptual
components of volunteer management: locating and orientating volunteers, oper-
ating volunteer programs, and perpetuating volunteer involvement. Most recently,
Culp et al.’s (1998) GEMS model built on and reorganized the earlier works of
Penrod and of Kwarteng et al. by organizing components of volunteer administra-
tion into four overarching categories: generating, educating, mobilizing, and sus-
taining volunteers.

Empirically Based Model of Volunteer Resource Management: PEP Model of
Volunteer Administration

Prior to 2004, little to no empirical research existed that quantitatively investigated and
identified the core competencies needed for managers of volunteers to effectively ad-
minister volunteer-based programs and the individuals who serve therein. Safrit and
Schmiesing (2004) conducted research to identify the competencies needed based on
historical literature and contemporary practices of volunteer administrators, resulting
in the PEP model (Safrit, Schmiesing, Gliem, & Gliem, 2005). The purpose of their
exploratory study was to identify components of volunteer management based on
both published literature and contemporary best practices. The researchers devel-
oped a qualitative methodology utilizing both deductive content analysis and induc-
tive thematic development (Thomas, 2003). According to Miles and Huberman (1994),
“Qualitative researchers usually work with small [authors’ italics] samples of people,
nested in their context and studied in-depth” (p. 27). Kuzel (1992) and Morse (1989)
suggested that qualitative samples tend to be purposive (i.e., seeking out specific indi-
viduals or types of individuals due to their direct connection or expertise with the fo-
cus of the research) rather than random as in broader, quantitative research.
Consequently, the researchers utilized practitioner and action research concepts sug-
gested by Jarvis (1999) as well as documented histories of national consulting, pro-
gram management, and professional leadership in volunteer administration to identify
eight current volunteer managers (“practitioners”) and 11 current national/interna-
tional consultants (“experts”) to participate in the study. Seven individuals from each
group agreed to participate.

The researchers asked the seven practitioners to reflect on their day-to-day suc-
cessful practices in managing volunteers and, based on their reflections and real-life
contemporary experiences, to identify effective components of contemporary volun-
teer management. Similarly, the researchers asked these experts to read two or three
entire documents of published literature on volunteer management, to reflect on their
readings, and (based on their reflections and the literature read) also to identify effec-
tive components. The researchers developed a theme identification work sheet to fa-
cilitate participants’ reflections in identifying components of volunteer management
and submitting them to the researchers in short words and phrases.

The researchers analyzed the data initially by using constant comparative analysis
(Glaser & Strauss, 1967). They read and reviewed the volunteer management
components identified by both the practitioners and experts and collapsed the initial
data into recurring themes using a modified storyboarding technique (Tesch, 1990).

18 Volunteer Models and Management

Connors, T. D. (Ed.). (2011). The volunteer management handbook : Leadership strategies for success. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.
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The researchers employed triangulation (Cohen & Mannion, 1985) with two separate
groups of volunteer administrators and one group of Ohio State University faculty fa-
miliar with volunteerism and qualitative research, in order to strengthen the integrity
of the collapsed themes identified, resulting in valid volunteer management compo-
nents and subcomponents. Based on the data from consultants and practitioners,
three categories and nine constructs were identified and included that comprised the
conceptual PEP model:

Category I: Personal Preparation
1. Personal and Professional Development
2. Serving as an Internal Consultant
3. Program Planning

Category II: Volunteer Engagement
4. Recruitment
5. Selection
6. Orientation and Training
7. Coaching and Supervision

Category III: Program Perpetuation
8. Recognition
9. Program Evaluation, Impact, and Accountability

Subsequently, the researchers used the PEP conceptual model to ask members of
the Association of Volunteer Administration about their perceptions of the importance
of each potential competency suggested in the PEP conceptual model (Safrit et al.,
2005). The population for the subsequent study was the 2,057 individual members of
the Association for Volunteer Administration (AVA) as of July 1, 2004, and included
1,889 AVA members from the United States, 98 from Canada, and 70 from other countr-
ies. The researchers used a quantitative methodology approach of a mailed question-
naire consisting of 140 individual volunteer management competencies based on the
prior qualitative study. A pilot test provided Cronbach’s alpha reliabilities for individual
constructs that ranged from .73 to .93. Since all values were greater than .70, the
researchers determined the questionnaire to be reliable (Stevens, 1992).

The authors achieved a final response rate of 25% (Wiseman, 2003) and followed
up with 150 randomly selected nonrespondents (Linder & Wingenbach, 2002; Miller &
Smith, 1983); they found no significant differences between respondents and nonres-
pondents. To determine if the data were appropriate for factor analysis using the princi-
pal component analysis technique, a correlation matrix of volunteer management
competencies was reviewed for intercorrelations greater than j0.30j, and two statistics
were computed. Based on the correlation matrix and the statistics calculated, the
researchers concluded that the data were appropriate for component analysis.

Two criteria were used initially to determine the number of components to be
extracted. First, only components with eigenvalues greater than 1.0 were considered
for the analysis. Second, a scree plot of the component eigenvalues was used to iden-
tify breaks or discontinuity in determining the number of major components. After
initial extraction, a third criterion for the determination of the number of components
to extract was whether they possessed meaningful interpretation (simple structure
and conceptual sense). The extraction procedure resulted in the identification of

Empirically Based Model of Volunteer Resource Management: PEP Model of Volunteer Administration 19

Connors, T. D. (Ed.). (2011). The volunteer management handbook : Leadership strategies for success. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.
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seven components underlying the conceptual constructs of volunteer management
competencies. The components were rotated using a varimax rotation method with
Kaiser normalization to aid in interpretation. A maximum likelihood factor extraction
procedure was also used to observe the stability of the components identified in the
principal component analysis. This second technique resulted in the delineation of
identical factors with similar loadings as the principal component analysis, reflecting
stability in the results.

The component loadings in the rotated component matrix were examined to un-
derstand and interpret the nature of the seven components. To assist in the interpreta-
tion and reduce subjectivity and the likelihood of non-significant items loading on the
components, only items with component loadings of j0.40j and higher were consid-
ered for naming the seven components (Stevens, 1992). The researchers utilized a
qualitative triangulation methodology (Cohen & Mannion, 1985) with themselves and
three nationally recognized experts in volunteer management and administration to
name the components identified.

The end result was an empirically based model for volunteer management, the
first of its kind (as far as the authors can ascertain). Still referred to as PEP, the revised
model includes seven components of contemporary volunteer management and ad-
ministration, with each component reflecting respective requisite professional compe-
tencies (see Exhibit 1.2). Together, the seven components accounted for 39.2% of the
total variance among the empirical data collected.

The seven components identified in PEP emphasize practically all of the volunteer
management competencies identified during the previous 35 years by authors and pro-
fessional leaders in the field. The four components of volunteer recruitment and selec-
tion, volunteer orientation and training, volunteer program maintenance, and volunteer
recognition address the large majority of volunteer management concepts that have
been identified traditionally for volunteer organizations and programs holistically
(Boyce, 1971; Brudney, 1990; Culp et al., 1998; Ellis, 1996; Fisher & Cole, 1993;
Navarre, 1989; Penrod, 1991; Stepputat, 1995; Wilson, 1976).

Comparing PEP to Historical Models

As shown in Exhibit 1.3, previous models of volunteer management have not
adequately addressed the personal and professional growth of the individual volun-
teer manager (with the possible exception of Fisher and Cole, 1993, and Brudney,
1990, to some degree). This analysis is supported by the Points of Light Foundation
(Allen, 1995):

[A]s we have discussed before [regarding volunteer management], volunteer coor-
dinators were, in a way, a missing element. This is not to say that volunteer coor-
dinators are not important—indeed, in an earlier piece we argued that the
research leads to a more important role of internal consultant and change agent
for volunteer coordinators. Rather, it underscores that it is not the mere presence
or absence of a staff position with that title that makes the difference. It is the way
the person in the position thinks, what he or she does and what the system is pre-
pared to allow him or her to do—those are the critical differences between the
“more effective” and “less effective” organizations. (p. 17)

20 Volunteer Models and Management

Connors, T. D. (Ed.). (2011). The volunteer management handbook : Leadership strategies for success. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.
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21
Connors, T. D. (Ed.). (2011). The volunteer management handbook : Leadership strategies for success. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.
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li
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m

(2
0
0
5
).

22
Connors, T. D. (Ed.). (2011). The volunteer management handbook : Leadership strategies for success. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.
Created from ashford-ebooks on 2022-04-12 22:58:09.

C
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si
n
g
,
G
li
e
m
,
an

d
G
li
e
m

(2
0
0
5
).

23
Connors, T. D. (Ed.). (2011). The volunteer management handbook : Leadership strategies for success. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.
Created from ashford-ebooks on 2022-04-12 22:58:09.

C
o
p
yr

ig
h
t
©

2
0
1
1
.
Jo

h
n
W

ile
y

&
S

o
n
s,

I
n
co

rp
o
ra

te
d
.
A

ll
ri
g
h
ts

r
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se

rv
e
d
.

Two other differences that are worth additional discussion relate to program
maintenance and resource development. Perhaps an argument of semantics, pro-
gram maintenance was not previously included in the historical models. In the
PEP model, program maintenance takes a holistic view of the functions related to
supervision, performance evaluation, utilization, and overall engagement of the
individual volunteer. The competency of resource development is certainly not
new to the profession; however, the level of skill and experience needed to be
successful likely has increased dramatically in recent years, which is why it has
been identified in the research. Resource development goes beyond budgeting
and determining the cost effectiveness of a volunteer program to include the
overall development and implementation of a comprehensive and contemporary
plan to secure resources for the program. The notion of resource development as
a significant component of a volunteer manager’s position description may be
unsettling for some; however, without a comprehensive plan, the ability to sup-
port the program and the volunteers adequately is likely diminished significantly.
A final component that has some differences from historical models is that of
program advocacy that has become a very significant component of the volunteer
manager’s position. Taking the components of evaluation and sustaining that pre-
vious authors identified in their models, the PEP model suggests that one must
operationalize those activities so that the volunteer program may grow and be
sustainable in local communities.

While there are notable differences between the PEP model and the historical
models and concepts previously discussed, there are also similarities. Like most, if not
all, models before PEP, the components originally identified by Boyce (1971) are in-
cluded in this model as well. This notion further validates the importance of those
competencies and how they are applicable even in today’s complex and often fast-
paced environment of engaging volunteers through many different modalities
(i.e., short term, long term, episodic, virtual, etc.).

Comparing PEP to Contemporary Models

The Council for Certification of Volunteer Administration (CCVA) is responsible for
awarding the credential Certified in Volunteer Administration (CVA) and promoting
six core values in volunteer resource management. The CCVA (2008) outlines five
core competencies:

1. Ethics. Acting in the accordance with professional principles
2. Organizational management. Designing and implementing policies, processes,

and structures to align volunteer involvement with organizational mission and
vision

3. Human resource management. Successfully engaging, training, and supporting
volunteers systematically and intentionally

4. Accountability. Collecting relevant data and meaningfully monitoring, evaluating,
and reporting

5. Leadership and advocacy. Advancing and advocating individual, organizational,
and community goals and volunteer involvement, internally and community-
wide

24 Volunteer Models and Management

Connors, T. D. (Ed.). (2011). The volunteer management handbook : Leadership strategies for success. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.
Created from ashford-ebooks on 2022-04-12 22:58:09.

C
o
p
yr

ig
h
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©

2
0
1
1
.
Jo

h
n
W

ile
y

&
S

o
n
s,

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co

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.
A

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ts

r
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se

rv
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d
.

To support the credentialing process and to provide a comprehensive resource,
the CCVA uses the book Volunteer Administration: Professional Practice (Seel,
2010). The chapters in the book align well with the PEP model of volunteer resource
management and focus on:

& Terminology
& Ethics and ethical decision making
& Strategic management
& Operational management
& Staffing and development
& Sustainability
& Meeting management
& Financial management
& Data management
& Evaluation and outcome measurement
& Risk management
& Quality improvement
& Leadership
& Organizational involvement
& Advocacy
& Collaboration and alliances
& Historical perspectives of volunteer management

Exhibit 1.4 includes the competencies identified by CCVA as it compares to PEP
and the historical models discussed previously.

Conclusion: Volunteer Resource Management Today and in the Future

Exhibit 1.4 depicts all models of volunteer management that have been discussed in
this chapter and compares the PEP model to the CCVA core competencies. There are
significant similarities between the two with minor differences noted. Ethics, account-
ability, and leadership and advocacy from the CCVA core competencies align with the
PEP competencies of serving as an internal consultant, personal and professional de-
velopment, and program evaluation, impact, and accountability. The CCVA core com-
petency of organizational management aligns with PEP program planning. Human
resource management, from the CCVA model, aligns with the recruitment, selection,
orientation, recognition, training, and coaching and supervision competencies from
the PEP model. Differences between the two competency models lie primarily in se-
mantics as both models include the contemporary competencies for an individual to
be successful as a volunteer manager.

Research in the field of volunteer resource management continues to expand,
specifically related to the required competencies, identification of effective compo-
nents, and/or level of competence with selected volunteer resource management
competencies. Barnes and Sharpe (2009), through a case study, investigated alterna-
tives to traditional volunteer resource management models that would promote life-
style integration, organizational informality and flexibility, and volunteer-agency

Conclusion: Volunteer Resource Management Today and in the Future 25

Connors, T. D. (Ed.). (2011). The volunteer management handbook : Leadership strategies for success. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.
Created from ashford-ebooks on 2022-04-12 22:58:09.

C
o
p
yr

ig
h
t
©

2
0
1
1
.
Jo

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IB
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4

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26
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collaboration. Hager and Brudney (2004) investigated the adoption of nine practices
for volunteer management by charities and congregations. Boyd (2004) conducted a
Delphi study to identify those competency areas that would require managers of vol-
unteers to be proficient in the future. Harshfield (1995) investigated the perceived im-
portance of selected volunteer management components in western U.S. schools,
while King and Safrit (1998) did likewise for Ohio 4-H Youth Development agents.
These research examples demonstrate the significant interest in the field of volunteer
management and the need to continue to conduct research to determine best and ef-
fective practices that will allow the profession to continue to evolve.

As previously discussed, the literature identified competencies that are certainly
consistent across all contexts; however, as volunteerism continues to evolve, it is im-
perative that the competencies be considered in the right context. It must be recog-
nized that competencies alone do not define the profession or prepare the individual
who will be working in the profession. New professionals, and arguably seasoned
professionals as well, need to have a chance to practice what is taught in the formal
setting, through internships, practicums, and other similar arrangements. Additionally,
as new competencies are identified and the field of volunteer management continues
to evolve, it is imperative that degree and certificate programs adapt and include in
their curriculum the new competencies for the profession to remain relevant and the
individuals prepared to enter the workforce.

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30 Volunteer Models and Management

Connors, T. D. (Ed.). (2011). The volunteer management handbook : Leadership strategies for success. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.
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CHAPTER 5

Maximizing Volunteer Engagement
Sarah Jane Rehnborg, CAVS, PhD

Meg Moore, MBA
University of Texas at Austin

One of the most distinctive features of the nonprofit sector is its voluntary nature.Nonprofits do not coerce people to work within the sector nor do they possess
the right to mandate the use of their services (Frumkin, 2002). For nonprofit organiza-
tions, “free choice is the coin of the realm. Donors give because they choose to do so.
Volunteers work of their own volition” (p. 3).

As an unpaid workforce available to further the goals and to help meet an array
of needs in resource-constrained organizations, volunteers represent one of the criti-
cal competitive advantages of the nonprofit sector. And while public-sector (and, to a
much lesser degree, even private-sector) organizations also utilize volunteers, un-
paid workers proliferate in the nonprofit sector, where an estimated 80% of organiza-
tions report the use of volunteers in service capacities (Hager, 2004).

Despite the idiosyncrasies of volunteer involvement, remarkably few organiza-
tions possess the knowledge to maximize this advantage. Equally few nonprofit de-
cision makers understand the basic constructs of volunteer engagement. Likewise,
many in top leadership positions do not know what they might expect from an
engaged volunteer workforce, nor are they aware of the critical importance of an
infrastructure designed to facilitate and support community engagement.

With intentional planning and vision setting, effective volunteer management can
maximize volunteer participation; manage diverse volunteer interests and resources;
facilitate productive relations among staff, volunteers, and clients; protect organiza-
tions against volunteer-related liabilities; and ensure voluntary labor connects with
organizations’ strategic goals. To reach this goal, organizations must begin by ac-
knowledging the diversity of roles and motivations in their volunteer workforce.

Today’s volunteers offer nearly unlimited potential to the agency that is willing to
move beyond traditional conceptions of volunteer roles. Several efforts have been
made to segment the volunteer population. One is the distinction between policy and
service volunteers discussed by Jeffrey Brudney in Chapter 3. In this context, policy
volunteers serve as strategic advisors to a nonprofit, while service volunteers are

103
Connors, T. D. (Ed.). (2011). The volunteer management handbook : Leadership strategies for success. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.
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ile
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&
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co

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.
A

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ri
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ts

r
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se

rv
e
d
.

engaged in the tactical work of the organization. Such segmentation provides a helpful
start in refining a definition of volunteers as a group, but still lacks sufficient granularity.

In Chapter 11, Nancy Macduff discusses “episodic” volunteers in contrast to con-
tinuous service volunteers and emphasizes that episodic volunteers do not evaporate
at the end of their service: Many provide specialized skills on an annual basis. The
master of ceremonies for the annual gala, for example, might play that role for
decades as his or her only interaction with an organization. The episodic nature of
the work does not lessen the value of the involvement or the volunteer’s commit-
ment to the organization’s mission. Alternatively, an episodic volunteer may offer
many hours of service in a short time frame, such as a student’s internship over
spring break. While these services are time-limited, they still provide valuable re-
sources to nonprofits and should be recognized for the valued investment they are.

These distinctions begin to segment volunteers into categories of similar ser-
vices. To manage volunteers effectively, nonprofit leaders need to examine the pat-
terns found in these groups of volunteers at a more detailed level. What types of
volunteers are most successful with different tasks? How should the work of various
volunteers be recognized to reflect their contributions to the organization? What
draws these populations of volunteers to their work? How can a nonprofit sustain
long-term engagement with a diverse array of volunteers?

To define these groups further, the Volunteer Champions Initiative formulated
The Volunteer Involvement FrameworkTM (see Exhibit 5.1). The Framework takes a
broader view of volunteer engagement, considering both the needs of the organiza-
tion and trends in present-day volunteerism. This perspective correlates the work
that needs to be done in an organization with the management strategies needed
to support that work and combines it with the volunteers’ particular interests, mo-
tives, levels of commitment, and time availability. The Framework provides a start-
ing point for examining the organization’s current levels of involvement and creates
a blueprint for planning for more extensive community input.

Understanding Volunteer Motivations and Trends

Volunteerism is multifaceted. Not only do people serve for a multitude of reasons,
today’s volunteers serve in a variety of ways and with various expectations for the
return on their investment of energy and time. Additionally, not all people who serve
without expectation of remuneration gravitate to the term “volunteer.” Students may
talk about internships or community service requirements. Teachers may seek
service-learning opportunities in area nonprofits. Men tend to describe their service
by the functions they perform (coach, trustee), while women have historically been
more connected to the term “volunteer.” Theological interpretations of service vary.
Some religiously motivated volunteers feel called to serve, while others say they are
compelled to live out their faith, and still others seek to promote social justice through
service. Professional associations may talk about public interest work or pro bono
opportunities. The very act of expanding the vocabulary associated with volunteer
work opens up new ideas for envisioning service.

Research on volunteerism provides interesting insights. Volunteering in 2009
was at a 30-year high, with a large annual increase over 2008. The bulk of this

104 Maximizing Volunteer Engagement

Connors, T. D. (Ed.). (2011). The volunteer management handbook : Leadership strategies for success. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.
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&
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EX
H
IB
IT
5.
1

T
h
e
V
o
lu
n
te
e
r
In
v
o
lv
e
m
e
n
t
F
ra
m
e
w
o
rk
:
O
v
e
rv
ie
w

o
f
T
y
p
e
s
o
f
V
o
lu
n
te
e
rs

C
O
N
N
E
C
T
IO

N
T
O

S
E
R
V
IC
E
!

A
ffi
li
at
io
n
F
o
cu

s
S
k
il
l
F
o
cu

s

TIMEFORSERVICE!

Sh
o
rt
T
e
rm

E
p
is
o
d
ic

E
x
a
m
p
le
s
o
f
S
e
rv
ic
e

C
o
rp
o
ra
te

d
ay
s
o
f
se
rv
ic
e
w
it
h
w
o
rk

te
am

s
W
e
e
k
e
n
d
h
o
u
se
-b
u
il
d
b
y
a
lo
ca
l
se
rv
ic
e
cl
u
b

P
ar
k
cl
e
an

-u
p
e
v
e
n
t
o
r
tr
ai
lm

ai
n
te
n
an

ce
W
o
rk

cr
e
w

fo
r
an

n
u
al
e
v
e
n
t

T
ra
it
s
o
f
V
o
lu
n
te
e
rs

St
ro
n
g
se
n
se

o
f
co

n
n
e
ct
io
n
to

th
e
ca
u
se
,
w
o
rk

g
ro
u
p
,c
lu
b
,o

r
o
rg
an

iz
at
io
n
.

G
e
n
e
ra
ll
y
e
x
p
e
ct
s
a
w
e
ll
-o
rg
an

iz
e
d
e
v
e
n
t

(m
at
e
ri
al
s
an

d
in
st
ru
ct
io
n
s
im

m
e
d
ia
te
ly

av
ai
la
b
le
to

p
e
rf
o
rm

ta
sk
,e
tc
.)
.

M
ay

b
e
u
si
n
g
se
rv
ic
e
o
p
p
o
rt
u
n
it
y
to

in
v
e
st
ig
at
e
a

p
ar
ti
cu

la
r
o
rg
an

iz
at
io
n
.

M
ay

b
e
p
ar
t
o
f
a
se
rv
ic
e
g
ro
u
p
o
r
m
e
e
ti
n
g
se
rv
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e

re
q
u
ir
e
m
e
n
ts
o
f
a
sc
h
o
o
l,
w
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rk
p
la
ce
,
o
r
cl
u
b
.

M
ay

h
av
e
u
n
re
al
is
ti
c/
n
ai
v
e
e
x
p
e
ct
at
io
n
s
ab

o
u
t
th
e

ab
il
it
y
to

im
p
ac
t
cl
ie
n
ts
o
r
lo
n
g
-t
e
rm

w
o
rk

o
f

th
e
o
rg
an

iz
at
io
n
.

M
ay

p
re
fe
r
to

id
e
n
ti
fy

w
it
h
th
e
ir
se
rv
ic
e
cl
u
b
o
r

co
m
p
an

y
ra
th
e
r
th
an

th
e
n
o
n
p
ro
fi
t
b
e
in
g

se
rv
e
d
.

E
x
a
m
p
le
s
o
f
S
e
rv
ic
e

A
o
n
e
-t
im

e
au

d
it
o
f
an

o
rg
an

iz
at
io
n
’s
fi
n
an

ce
s

b
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a
p
ro
fe
ss
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n
al
ac
co

u
n
ta
n
t

A
sp
o
rt
s
cl
u
b
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a
ch

in
g
a
y
o
u
th

g
ro
u
p
a

p
a
rt
ic
u
la
r
sk
il
l
a
n
d
h
o
st
in
g
y
o
u
th

fo
r
an

e
v
e
n
t

A
p
e
rs
o
n
o
p
e
n
in
g
h
is
/h
e
r
h
o
m
e
fo
r
a
fu
n
d
ra
is
e
r

A
st
u
d
e
n
t
co

m
p
le
ti
n
g
a
d
e
g
re
e
re
q
u
ir
e
m
e
n
t.

T
ra
it
s
o
f
V
o
lu
n
te
e
r

Se
e
k
s
a
se
rv
ic
e
o
p
p
o
rt
u
n
it
y
ta
il
o
re
d
sp
e
ci
fi
ca
ll
y
to

e
n
g
ag
e
th
e
v
o
lu
n
te
e
r’
s
u
n
iq
u
e
sk
il
l,
ta
le
n
t,
o
r

re
so
u
rc
e
s.

M
a
y
b
e
a
n
y
a
g
e
,
a
lt
h
o
u
g
h
sl
ig
h
tl
y
m
o
re

li
k
e
ly

to
b
e
ad

u
lt
s
w
it
h
h
ig
h
e
r
le
v
e
ls

o
f
sk
il
ls
/

e
d
u
ca
ti
o
n
.

L
ik
e
ly

e
x
p
e
ct
s
m
u
tu
a
li
ty
,
i.
e
.,
a
p
e
e
r-
to
-p
e
e
r

re
la
ti
o
n
sh
ip

w
it
h
in

th
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o
rg
a
n
iz
a
ti
o
n

(a
cc
o
u
n
ta
n
t
to

tr
e
a
su
re
r;
e
v
e
n
t
h
o
st

to
E
D
;

e
tc
.)

M
ay

se
e
k
to

n
e
g
o
ti
at
e
ti
m
in
g
o
f
se
rv
ic
e
.

A
p
p
re
ci
at
e
s
re
co

g
n
it
io
n
th
at
is
ta
il
o
re
d
to

th
e

u
n
iq
u
e
d
e
m
an

d
s
o
f
th
e
p
o
si
ti
o
n
.

M
ay

p
re
fe
r
to

th
in
k
o
f
se
lf
n
o
t
as

a
“v
o
lu
n
te
e
r”
b
u
t

an
in
te
rn
,p

ro
b
o
n
o
co

n
su
lt
an

t,
e
tc
.

(c
o
n
ti
n
u
ed

)

105
Connors, T. D. (Ed.). (2011). The volunteer management handbook : Leadership strategies for success. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.
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0
1
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.
Jo

h
n
W

ile
y

&
S

o
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s,

I
n
co

rp
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te
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.
A

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.

EX
H
IB
IT
5.
1

(C
o
n
ti
n
u
ed

)

C
O
N
N
E
C
T
IO

N
T
O

S
E
R
V
IC
E
!

A
ffi
li
at
io
n
F
o
cu

s
S
k
il
l
F
o
cu

s
TIMEFORSERVICE!

Lo
n
g
T
e
rm

O
n
g
o
in
g

E
x
a
m
p
le
s
o
f
S
e
rv
ic
e

Y
o
u
th

m
e
n
to
r

T
ro
o
p
le
ad

e
r

Su
n
d
ay

Sc
h
o
o
lt
e
ac
h
e
r

E
n
v
ir
o
n
m
e
n
ta
l
su
st
ai
n
ab

il
it
y
ad

v
o
ca
te

H
o
sp
ic
e
v
is
it
o
r

P
ar
k
h
o
st
o
r
d
o
ce
n
t

T
h
ri
ft
st
o
re

m
an

ag
e
r

A
u
x
il
ia
ry

m
e
m
b
e
r
o
r
tr
u
st
e
e

T
ra
it
s
o
f
V
o
lu
n
te
e
rs

C
o
m
m
it
te
d
to

th
e
g
ro
u
p
o
r
o
rg
an

iz
at
io
n
an

d
th
e

ca
u
se

o
r
m
is
si
o
n
it
re
p
re
se
n
ts
.

O
ft
e
n
w
il
li
n
g
to

p
e
rf
o
rm

an
y
ty
p
e
o
f
w
o
rk

fo
r
th
e

ca
u
se
,f
ro
m

st
u
ffi
n
g
e
n
v
e
lo
p
e
s
to

h
ig
h
ly

so
p
h
is
ti
ca
te
d
se
rv
ic
e
d
e
li
v
e
ry
.

M
ay

n
e
e
d
sp
e
ci
al
iz
e
d
tr
ai
n
in
g
to

p
re
p
ar
e
fo
r
th
e

se
rv
ic
e
o
p
p
o
rt
u
n
it
y
(e
.g
.,
li
te
ra
cy

tu
to
ri
n
g
,e
tc
.)

M
ay

fe
e
l
a
sp
e
ci
al
af
fi
n
it
y
to

th
e
o
rg
an

iz
at
io
n

b
e
ca
u
se

o
f
p
as
t
b
e
n
e
fi
t,
fa
m
il
y
co

n
n
e
ct
io
n
,o

r
o
th
e
r
p
e
rs
o
n
al
al
le
g
ia
n
ce
.

M
ay

b
e
an

y
ag
e
,a
lt
h
o
u
g
h
ag
e
m
ay

se
g
m
e
n
t
ty
p
e

o
f
ca
u
se

m
o
st
li
k
e
ly
ch

am
p
io
n
e
d
.

M
ay

b
e
id
e
o
lo
g
ic
al
ly
m
o
ti
v
at
e
d
(r
e
li
g
io
u
s,

p
o
li
ti
ca
l,
e
n
v
ir
o
n
m
e
n
ta
l,
e
tc
.)
to

ch
am

p
io
n
a

ca
u
se

o
r
is
su
e
.

A
p
p
re
ci
at
e
s
re
g
u
la
r
re
co

g
n
it
io
n
,b

o
th

fo
rm

al
an

d
in
fo
rm

al
.

O
ft
e
n
u
se
s
p
e
rs
o
n
al
p
ro
n
o
u
n
s
to

ta
lk

ab
o
u
t

o
rg
an

iz
at
io
n
(m

e
,w

e
,u

s,
o
u
r)

In
ad

d
it
io
n
to

st
ro
n
g
m
o
ti
v
at
io
n
s
fo
r
se
rv
ic
e
,m

ay
w
e
ll
b
e
k
e
y
d
o
n
o
r

E
x
a
m
p
le
s
o
f
S
e
rv
ic
e

P
ro

b
o
n
o
le
g
al
co

u
n
se
l

N
o
-c
o
st
m
e
d
ic
al
se
rv
ic
e
b
y
a
p
h
y
si
ci
an

,
E
M
T
,

n
u
rs
e
,c
o
u
n
se
lo
r,
e
tc
.

V
o
lu
n
te
e
r
fi
re

fi
g
h
ti
n
g

Lo
an

e
d
e
x
e
cu

ti
v
e

B
o
ar
d
m
e
m
b
e
r

T
ra
it
s
o
f
V
o
lu
n
te
e
rs

S
im

il
a
r
to

th
e
q
u
a
d
ra
n
t
to

th
e
le
ft
in

co
m
m
it
m
e
n
t.

G
e
n
e
ra
ll
y
p
re
fe
rs

to
co

n
tr
ib
u
te

th
ro
u
g
h
sk
il
ls

an
d
tr
ai
n
in
g
th
e
y
b
ri
n
g
to

th
e
ca
u
se

o
r

o
rg
an

iz
at
io
n
.

M
a
y
e
le
ct

to
co

n
tr
ib
u
te

ta
le
n
ts

th
ro
u
g
h

sp
e
ci
al
iz
e
d
se
rv
ic
e
o
r
m
a
y
co

n
tr
ib
u
te

th
e
ir

ti
m
e
th
ro
u
g
h
p
o
li
cy

a
n
d
le
a
d
e
rs
h
ip

ro
le
s

su
ch

as
b
o
ar
d
g
o
v
e
rn
a
n
ce
,
v
is
io
n
in
g
,
e
tc
.

O
ft
e
n
e
x
p
e
ct
s
v
o
lu
n
te
e
r
m
a
n
a
g
e
m
e
n
t
th
a
t

re
fl
e
ct
s
th
e
cu

lt
u
ra
l
n
o
rm

s
o
f
th
e
g
iv
e
n

sp
e
ci
al
ty

o
r
sk
il
l.

O
ft
e
n
co

m
b
in
e
s
th
e
ir
ta
le
n
t
w
it
h
d
e
d
ic
at
io
n
to

th
e

ca
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.

106
Connors, T. D. (Ed.). (2011). The volunteer management handbook : Leadership strategies for success. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.
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(c
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)

107
Connors, T. D. (Ed.). (2011). The volunteer management handbook : Leadership strategies for success. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.
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(C
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108
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increase was in women between 45 and 54 years of age who are married and
employed. Together with other volunteers, they constitute a workforce numbering
more than 63 million. Volunteering increases with higher employment rates, and is
lower in areas with higher poverty rates.

Some researchers find even higher levels of engagement. For example, accord-
ing to Independent Sector (2001), when all volunteer involvement is accounted for—
not only in charitable organizations but also in religious groups, schools, communi-
ties, and informal neighborhood groups—the total unpaid labor contribution climbs
even higher. Estimates of the value of volunteer labor suggest the United States bene-
fits from the equivalent of $239 billion of unpaid staff time or the equivalent of a full-
time workforce of 7.2 million employees (Wing, Pollak, & Blackwood, 2008). (For
specific information about volunteering in your community, Volunteering in America
offers excellent state- and city-level data at its interactive Web site: www.Volunteer-
ingInAmerica.gov).

Volunteers continue to be more well educated, more likely to have families, and
more socially connected than the population as a whole. They also have distinct inter-
ests and needs. For example:

& Episodic volunteer opportunities. Those with limited time but an interest in doing
service on a temporary basis are being drawn to events such as daylong house-
builds with Habitat for Humanity, community park trail maintenance days, or spe-
cial vacations featuring “voluntourism” away from home.

& Service linked to the private sector. Corporations and business groups, working to
bolster their community involvement, do so by participating in programs to
“adopt a” school or stretch of highway, complete a “day of service,” create tech-
nological brain trusts for nonprofits in need, or encourage employees to join self-
guided “hands-on” service opportunities, often facilitated by a local volunteer
center or United Way.

& Youth and student service. Students competing to build their resumes and
enhance their college applications are motivated to help their communities, fre-
quently spending long hours in unpaid internships, engaging in service-learning
or participating in service clubs and youth groups.

& Opportunities for those who have left the labor force. The most educated group of
retirees in history—as well as the growing number of adults having children later
in life, who may have left the workforce temporarily but seek to apply their
knowledge in giving back—are increasingly available to devote their skills, time,
and resources to volunteering.

& Virtual volunteer work. While we generally think of volunteering done in person
and on-site, today’s technologically inclined volunteers also find ways to contrib-
ute service via the Internet. These virtual volunteers, like persons appearing at the
office, may be willing to perform a one-time service (e.g., revise an organization’s
Web site) or to sign on for an extended time commitment, such as serving as an
online mentor.

From all these trends emerges a picture of a national community of volunteers
poised to provide talent, labor, and opportunity to any organizational leader savvy
enough to capture this workforce and capitalize on that which drives their service.

Understanding Volunteer Motivations and Trends 109

Connors, T. D. (Ed.). (2011). The volunteer management handbook : Leadership strategies for success. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.
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Understanding the changing face of volunteers in America as well as the top motiva-
tions for volunteering provides an essential foundation for applying the Volunteer In-
volvement Framework strategically to maximize volunteer contributions.

The Volunteer Involvement Framework

The Volunteer Involvement Framework captures contemporary themes in volunteer
engagement and organizes this information for prioritizing and decision-making pur-
poses. The tool—developed with assistance from nonprofit leaders—enables execu-
tive-level decision makers to identify their current volunteer-engagement practices,
examine additional service possibilities, and identify appropriate staffing and other
management considerations. The Framework guides agency leaders as they set orga-
nizational direction, providing a useful visual schematic that helps organize strategic
thinking about volunteer engagement. In short, the Framework examines the full
range of options available for creating a volunteer-engagement system tailored to
meet the unique needs of nonprofit organizations.

The Framework is a simple two-by-two matrix. The horizontal “connection” col-
umns distinguish between the two predominant orientations of volunteers currently in
the marketplace. The first of these is the “affiliation-oriented” volunteer. This person
gravitates to a service opportunity in order to associate him- or herself—with the
cause or the mission or purpose of the organization, or with the group or network
of friends engaged in the service. For these volunteers, the orientation to the type
of nonprofit, or the friends or colleagues with whom they will serve, is of greater sig-
nificance than the type of work being done. By contrast, the “skill-oriented” volunteer,
represented in the rightmost column, is a person who is more likely to express an
interest in or a connection with the type of work performed as a volunteer. This person
views the skills that he or she brings to service as paramount and wants to offer this
specialized expertise to the organization.

The vertical “time” dimension of the matrix captures the person’s availability for
service. The top row represents a short-term service commitment. “Short term” may
indicate a short stint of service (volunteering that occurs over a determined number of
hours in one day or weekend), or it may suggest a specific, time-limited focus, where
the volunteer signs on for a specific project that is limited in nature (although the proj-
ect may occur on an annual or some other recurring basis). This volunteer is fre-
quently called an episodic volunteer. The bottom row of the framework represents
the person who agrees to serve on a regular, ongoing basis, potentially making a
long-term service commitment.

In the sample Framework in Exhibit 5.1, each quadrant contains examples of
voluntary service that typify that area of volunteer experience, followed by a syn-
opsis of the more common traits and motivations for service. Despite the bounda-
ries to be discussed, it is worth noting that the Framework’s four quadrants are not
mutually exclusive and that the distinctions between them are fluid, flexible, and
permeable. A volunteer may elect to serve in all four ways over a lifetime. Like-
wise, an agency or organization will want to examine opportunities for service
that fall within each quadrant, thereby providing a maximum level of flexibility
when recruiting volunteers.

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In the remainder of this chapter, the Framework serves as a basis for conceptual-
izing a sustainable volunteer engagement program in four stages:

1. Understanding volunteer motivations and trends. Looking at the research on
who volunteers are and what drives them

2. Creating a vision for volunteer engagement. Thinking broadly about the four
quadrants and how to plan for them

3. Maximizing your investment in volunteers. Management/personnel strategies
and a process for moving from vision to reality

4. Minimizing challenges and embracing opportunities. Advice and resources that
address executive directors’ top concerns about volunteer engagement

This chapter and its references contain resources to assist with further develop-
ment of a specific community-engagement program, including online tools and
assessments. Additionally, Exhibit 5.4 (at the end of the chapter), which contains a
worksheet for notes on an organization’s particular use of and/or plans for volunteers,
allows for customization of The Volunteer Involvement Framework to meet an organi-
zation’s needs.

Developing a Vision for Volunteer Engagement

Identifying who volunteers is only one step of a larger process—a process that, in fact,
does not begin with recruiting volunteers. Instead, the process begins with an internal
assessment and analysis of your organization. Giving forethought to how and where
volunteers fit within your organization’s larger mission, and how a vision for volunteer
engagement fits with other strategic goals, creates a solid foundation for success. What
follows is a template for planning or for reassessing your volunteer-engagement
strategy.1

Step 1: Begin with an Open Mind

An important precursor to vision setting is an examination of biases. Nonprofit
leaders sometimes get stuck in modes of thinking that limit the possibilities of
volunteers within their organizations. A key ground rule for guiding your analysis
is to remember that there are no tasks volunteers cannot do. A person with the
requisite skills, abilities, licenses, training, and time can perform any job. Medical
personnel volunteer their time at clinics performing all the duties ascribed by their
training; attorneys perform pro bono work on a regular basis; trained community
members serve as firefighters, auxiliary police, and poll workers without pay;
some nonprofits are run by full-time, nonsalaried executive directors. The list is
endless. While it is certainly true that few people have this level of extended

1 For a more detailed accounting of executive leadership in volunteerism, see S. J. Ellis, From the
Top Down: The Executive Role in Volunteer Program Success (Philadelphia, PA: Energize, Inc.,
1996), which served as a key source in the development of this chapter.

Developing a Vision for Volunteer Engagement 111

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time to contribute, the fact is that a person may do any job, and perform equally
to those with a salary, on a volunteer basis—provided an organization’s leader-
ship is open to such limitless possibilities.

Likewise, people from all walks of life volunteer. Overlooking any segment of
the community unnecessarily closes a door to possible volunteers. Keep in mind
that some of the nation’s most active volunteers include senior citizens, not to men-
tion the contributions of people with disabilities, people with limited incomes, par-
ents of young children, and even children themselves—any of whom may be willing
to serve in a variety of capacities, from hands-on frontline assistance to policy devel-
opment and board service. When it comes to working with young volunteers, child
labor laws do not preclude young people from volunteering (Ellis, Weisbord, &
Noyes, 2003), so nonprofits frequently engage even elementary students in age-ap-
propriate endeavors on behalf of organizations. Research tells us that young people,
particularly those who volunteer with members of their family, become lifelong vol-
unteers (Musick & Wilson, 2008; Rehnborg, Fallon, & Hinerfeld, 2002). Thus, engag-
ing families and youth can help provide a vital community resource for years to
come.

Step 2: Include Staff and Board in the Process

Comprehensive community-engagement initiatives benefit greatly from the input
and active planning of key stakeholders and staff. One of the best ways to prevent
resistance to volunteers is to include staff and board members in the planning pro-
cess from the beginning. Including staff in the planning process enables employ-
ees to explore the nuances of service and helps to prepare them to expand their
reach through volunteers. And board members, themselves volunteers, may fail to
see the connection between their type of governance or policy volunteering and
the more direct-service opportunities offered to other volunteers. The planning
process acts an exercise in staff/board development, leading these key stakehold-
ers to begin thinking strategically about volunteers, to articulate a shared language
around community engagement, and to explore how volunteers fit within the orga-
nization’s core values and mission. Thus, engagement becomes not just about the
community outside of the organization but also an exercise in building internal
community.

Step 3: Take Stock

Because volunteer engagement does not exist in a vacuum, plans for community in-
volvement should be integrated within the existing strategic plan for your organiza-
tion’s future direction. The most important question to ask when contemplating a
community-engagement initiative is: What is the work that must be done to achieve
the mission and goals of our organization? Asking this question ensures that volunteer
opportunities fit within the overall objectives of the organization and the plan for mov-
ing forward. Additionally, the question benefits volunteers, who surely care whether
their time and talents make a difference. Volunteers thrive when they can see that the
work they perform is central to the organization: work that impacts the organization’s
bottom line—its mission.

112 Maximizing Volunteer Engagement

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Step 4: Move from Vision to Logistical Reality

Practice wisdom tells us that there are four keys to making a plan or system
operational:

1. A vision that guides the plan
2. Clear targets for progress (i.e., goals and objectives for action)
3. A qualified person responsible for overseeing the plan
4. The allocation of financial resources to support the plan

The vision for the plan emerged through your planning process. In examining
opportunities for community engagement, the planning committee identified ideas
that fit the needs and concerns of the organization. Look back at that stage of de-
velopment and see if any underlying themes or ideas emerged that guided your
decision making. Capturing those concerns succinctly and framing them into a
guiding vision or philosophy is important. This guiding vision should be devel-
oped into a strategy or mission statement for community engagement, or some
other brief document that is circulated and made widely available. This document
will provide direction and serve as a touchstone when important decisions need to
be made.

From that statement of vision, a set of clear goals to achieve should flow naturally.
By creating measurable statements of intent, including short-term objectives and long-
term anticipated outcomes, the planning committee will define the nature of the work
to be accomplished. This exercise of refining priorities and goals will present an op-
portunity for staff and board to weigh in with a reality check: Where will the resources
come from to support these objectives? Who will shepherd the civic-engagement ini-
tiative through its various stages?

Selecting a point person to drive the volunteer-engagement effort is critical,
ensuring it becomes someone’s responsibility to move your plan to action. This person
will need to be someone who enjoys full support and assistance as this new venture
takes shape. Additionally, the person must be given the time to undertake the work.
Effective community engagement programs—even small efforts—take time. To be ef-
fective in this role, your point person either must be engaged to take on this effort or
must be relieved of other duties so that he or she can invest the time necessary to
achieve the important end results.

Finally, your action plan should include a budget, inclusive of not only the dollars
but other costs to your organization of working with volunteers. These may include
staff time, facilities, supplies, and equipment required to facilitate involvement. Weigh
how your nonprofit will accommodate the fact that increased numbers of volunteers
equates to increased numbers of people in your organization—people who take up
space, often need to use computers, may want to drink coffee, and will want to park
their cars. Such creature comforts alone will not attract volunteers to your nonprofit,
but the absence of them can assuredly lead to poor volunteer retention. Also select
appropriate lines of communication, set up databases, and determine appropriate
screening procedures. Touching on these types of logistics with the planning team
before embarking on a new volunteer recruitment initiative can save numerous head-
aches down the road.

Developing a Vision for Volunteer Engagement 113

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Step 5: Benchmark Others’ Successes with Volunteers

Where model program for volunteers exist, it is worth exploring opportunities for rep-
lication in systems, approaches, training, and more. Consider looking for examples of
volunteer engagement from similar nonprofits, particularly those that have achieved
successes with volunteers. Such benchmarking could set up opportunities for collabo-
ration while also preventing the organization from reinventing the wheel if an existing
template fits the agency’s needs.

Additionally, staff will seek a template for volunteer engagement. It may be neces-
sary to dedicate some professional development and training time to this topic, or staff
simply may look to the executive team to model effective volunteer involvement.
Leadership should model commitment to the plan. Staff will perceive not only what
working with volunteers may require of them (investments of time, certain behavioral
modifications, etc.) but also the potential payoffs for taking work with volunteers
seriously.

Step 6: Decide How You Will Measure Success

Setting up metrics to evaluate the success of community-engagement efforts can
prove complex, but several tools exist to provide support. These metrics can help an
organization determine whether the anticipated outcomes of the volunteer-engage-
ment initiative were met and provide the data that will make the case for continued
support for your efforts to board members, funders, and other stakeholders.

& Quantitative measures

Databases can be programmed to track not only the number of volunteers and
their hours spent in service but also whether their service correlates with other
important outcomes. (For example: Are they raising the public profile of the
organization? Are they donating, attending events, or becoming members in ad-
dition to giving their time? Has the agency been able to serve more clients or
provide more effective or comprehensive service because of volunteers? Has
volunteers’ service secured matching cash contributions from their employers
contingent on hours of service? Have they referred others to the nonprofit?
Have they increased their service over time or begun serving in new capacities,
perhaps making the shift from episodic volunteers to ongoing volunteers, or
adding new skills within the time they give? Have they opened doors with fun-
ders or other potential donors?) Such metrics can become part of the agency
dashboard, referred to regularly in staff meetings, board discussions, and an-
nual reports.

& Financial measures

Another quantitative approach is to determine the organization’s return on invest-
ment by placing a value on volunteers’ time. Several methods for this exist (e.g.,
comparing the work to its average wage in the marketplace, accounting for the
opportunity cost of volunteers’ time, etc.). Resources for conducting volunteer
valuation can be found online at The RGK Center’s research center www.rgkcen-
ter.org/research/past, including an article, “Placing a Value on Volunteer Time”
(2005), that outlines several tools available to nonprofit leaders.

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& Qualitative measures

Scheduling exit interviews or after-action reports with volunteers who have com-
pleted a significant project or service commitment provides precious information.
Meet with staff supervisors or board members engaged in the action to process
the outcomes, and think about surveying your volunteers periodically or holding
casual focus groups to garner their input. Report volunteer involvement successes
and highlight accomplishments in the organizational newsletter, reports to fun-
ders, Web site content, and elsewhere, and clip press reports about the agency,
watching for the presence of volunteers. Community involvement often helps to
garner positive attention in the community and provides positive public relations
for your nonprofit.

Managing the Volunteer Investment

Just as thoughtful, careful planning is necessary for any level of volunteer involve-
ment, so, too, are resources to do the job, including funds and staff time. Numerous
studies have found that—“free” labor, notwithstanding—the old adage you get what
you pay for applies to volunteer programs (Adalpe et al., 2006; Grantmaker Forum on
Community and National Service, 2003; Hager, 2004; Rehnborg et al., 2002). The bot-
tom line is this: The more energy and resources nonprofits expend in community-
engagement initiatives, the greater their return on the investment.

The level and extent of a volunteer-engagement initiative determines the staff-
ing complement. Utilizing The Volunteer Involvement Framework grid shown in
Exhibit 5.2, we examine the traits of each quadrant and the resultant management
recommendations. Keep in mind that volunteer-engagement initiatives that span the
grid will require greater levels of management resources.

A Question of Management and Staffing

Making the decision to hire a new person on either a full- or part-time basis is
always complex and requires careful analysis. Because volunteers generally work
for no pay, many nonprofits initially assume that the leadership of the program
can also be secured without a paycheck. In her excellent treatment of the subject
of when to pay for help and when to engage volunteers for a task, Ellis (1996)
notes that, while volunteers’ qualifications can be equal to or beyond that of staff
in every way, providing a paycheck serves four critical functions: “Offering a
salary gives the agency a predetermined number of work hours per week, the
right to dictate the employee’s work schedule, a certain amount of control over
the nature and priorities of the work to be done, and continuity” (p. 12). Thus,
handling a significant workforce of volunteers (and especially if those volunteers
serve over a long period of time and perform highly skilled work) likely requires
the sort of availability and commitment that an organization usually finds in a paid
staff member.

Once the commitment has been made to hire for the position, some executive
directors look to fill a volunteer manager opening from within the ranks of existing
volunteers. The underlying assumption—that someone committed to serving your
nonprofit would welcome the opportunity to come on board in exchange for a

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paycheck—sometimes misunderstands the challenges inherent in moving from being
a volunteer to managing other volunteers. Having a clear job description and laying
out the necessary skills and aptitudes of the job is essential. An excellent resource on
volunteer management, which includes sample job descriptions for the position, can
be found on Idealist.org in its Volunteer Management Resource Center section. See
www.idealist.org/info/VolunteerMgmt

Position justification is a concern frequently raised by executive directors. Histori-
cally, most nonprofit organizations emerged from the work of a committed group of
volunteers who championed a cause. As the work grew, the founding board sought
funds to hire a leader for the organization, a person with the time and the expertise
needed to take the group to its next level of functioning: the executive director. The
same rationale applies to the position of volunteer manager. Investing time and re-
sources in a talented volunteer manager will yield valuable returns.

Minimizing Challenges, Embracing Opportunities

Few volunteer leaders will openly cast aspersions on the dedication of volunteers or the
virtues of community involvement, yet benign acceptance can also mask serious reserva-
tions, if not outright hostility, toward volunteers. This section of the chapter addresses
some of the more common issues in volunteer engagement, presenting some of the chal-
lenges and opportunities inherent in community-engagement activities.

The opportunities, challenges, and liability considerations for service projects
within each of the quadrants are captured in the Framework shown in Exhibit 5.3.
Although the concerns vary by the dimensions of the quadrant, a few considerations
are universal.

Liability

In today’s litigious society, nonprofit organizations need to be careful, thoughtful, and
thorough in any project they undertake, ensuring proper consideration of risk manage-
ment and liability. Although a thorough risk-assessment analysis is beyond the scope of
this chapter, nonprofits would be well advised to exercise for volunteers the same cau-
tion advocated for client care and general staff protection for positions of equal respon-
sibility. A well-managed program should include up-to-date records and well-
documented personnel files, noting all trainings attended and reference checks con-
ducted, as well as the results of these reference checks. In addition, a comprehensive
community-engagement program should include a policies and procedures document
that outlines regulations pertaining to volunteer/client contact within and outside of the
work setting; expectations for uses of personal vehicles and levels of personal insur-
ance required if client transportation is anticipated; procedures on how to handle inju-
ries received during the course of service; and any other guidelines that would be
instituted for staff serving in similar positions. A comprehensive orientation to volunteer
work provides an opportunity to share this information with volunteers.

Insurance is available for volunteers operating within the regulations of a formal
organization. The low cost of this coverage suggests the relative safety of such under-
takings; nonetheless, an exploration of available options is important. For an example

116 Maximizing Volunteer Engagement

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117
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118
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of such coverage, see www.cimaworld.com/htdocs/volunteers.cfm. Intermediary
organizations for nonprofits and large nation organizations with numerous affiliates fre-
quently offer support and information about liability and risk management as it pertains
to volunteer involvement. Another particularly useful resource for nonprofit organiza-
tions is the Nonprofit Risk Management Center, based in Leesburg, VA, which offers a
host of references and useful articles (nonprofitrisk.org/library/articles/insur-
ance052004.shtml).

While precautions and risk assessment are wise, overestimating the risk associ-
ated with volunteers can create undue burdens. It is generally unnecessary to do crim-
inal background checks—or even reference checks—for most volunteers
participating in one-time group events or in positions unrelated to contact with vulner-
able clients. Allow the complexity of the assigned task to dictate risk-management
measures, and drop any that add unnecessary bureaucracy and obstacles to service.
As always, however, check with legal counsel or insurance provider to determine the
right line of action for the organization.

Record Keeping

Effective nonprofit management includes accounting for and supporting the agency’s
volunteers. Each volunteer’s involvement serving the organization should be a matter
of record. Set up the organization’s database and paperwork so that records of volun-
teer involvement not only capture the information to protect against liability but also
to provide needed data to evaluate the success of the program. (For support in devel-
oping record-keeping systems, see Ellis & Noyes, 2003.)

Data recorded about volunteers’ service will depend not only on the requirements
of the organization but also those of the volunteer and the agency’s stakeholders. For
example, a student fulfilling an educational requirement (service-learning or course re-
quirement) or volunteering to meet licensure requirements for a particular profession
will require certain documentation of involvement in the organization. Additionally, in-
surance carriers may require particular data-keeping practices to cover a volunteer in the
event of injury. Funders may accept volunteer service as part of a match requirement and
sometimes have their own reporting requirements on volunteer involvement.

Dismissal

While it is true that occasionally volunteers do not work out, such problems are
fortunately rare. A well-managed program is the best prevention from contentious
volunteer relationships. When volunteers have well-developed position
descriptions; have been capably screened, oriented, and trained for the position
they will fulfill; and are given adequate staff support and recognition, programs
generally run smoothly. However, it is true that, once in a while, a volunteer
may need to be dismissed. (Yes, volunteers can be fired!)

As with staff, this situation is never pleasant, in spite of its periodic necessity. Some
excellent online resources provide detailed information about the process of dismissing
volunteers (McCurley, 1993; Rehnborg, 1995). They are available online at:

www.serviceleader.org/new/managers/2005/07/000270.php
www.casanet.org/program-management/volunteer-manage/fire.htm

Minimizing Challenges, Embracing Opportunities 119

Connors, T. D. (Ed.). (2011). The volunteer management handbook : Leadership strategies for success. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.
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Problem volunteers should not be tolerated, nor should the specter of this prob-
lem deter leaders from involving volunteers. Many situations where volunteers stray
from expected protocol are motivated more by ignorance than intent. In the process
of gathering the information that appears in this chapter, an executive director told of
a situation where her nonprofit organization accidentally “inherited” the problem vol-
unteer of a sister agency. When the aberrant behaviors commenced at the new
agency, the executive director brought the volunteer in to discuss the situation. The
genuinely shocked volunteer had mistakenly assumed that her behavior was what
was expected, and she was mortified to learn that she had been such a cause for con-
cern. The woman grew to become one of the new agency’s most critical supporters
and strongest workers—not its greatest nemesis. Yes, volunteers can be dismissed,
but volunteers also deserve the courtesy of attention and redirection before drastic
measures are taken.

Volunteer/Staff Ratios

There are no specific rules that determine a standard volunteer/staff ratio or that trigger
when a volunteer manager needs to go from a half-time to a full-time position. Like-
wise, volunteer hours are not a good proxy to develop equations translating part-time
volunteer positions to full-time-equivalent standards for supervision formulas. Working
with eight volunteers each giving five hours of service weekly (40 hours of total service
per week) is significantly more time intensive from a supervision standpoint than
working with a single individual providing an equal amount of time.

We do know however, that more intensive volunteer expectations require greater
staff support and closer supervision. For example, the Court Appointed Special Advo-
cate program standards specify 1 supervisor to 30 volunteers (National CASA Associa-
tion, 2006). For supervision purposes, the San Francisco Recreation and Park
Department Volunteer Policy Guide (n.d.) recommends one gardener to 15 volun-
teers. Neither number however, indicates the staffing complement of the volunteer
office that recruits and prepares these people for service. Each organization must
examine its own goals, activities, and workload in volunteer engagement and decide
accordingly about volunteer management staffing. Benchmarking with other pro-
grams in similar areas of service may provide insight about appropriate staffing levels
and expectations.

Volunteer/Staff Relations

Almost any new or changed undertaking naturally is met with resistance. Dramatically
ramping up a community engagement program may cause staff to raise concerns
about already overwhelming workloads, job security, the qualifications of the volun-
teers, the timing of the decision, or roles that community members may assume. Fol-
lowing the steps outlined in this chapter will address many of these issues. The next
pointers may also help.

& Form a committee of staff and other stakeholders to assist with planning and im-
plementation of the community engagement initiative. A willingness to listen
carefully to the demands of existing personnel will go a long way in developing

120 Maximizing Volunteer Engagement

Connors, T. D. (Ed.). (2011). The volunteer management handbook : Leadership strategies for success. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.
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their receptivity to the new venture. Consider if all of their concerns are founded,
but certainly those that are need to be addressed during the planning process.

& Help staff members consider the service they have performed, and relate their
experiences as volunteers to their work as staff who will now interact with volun-
teers. No one wants their time wasted, nor are we eager to be treated poorly.
Personalizing the volunteer experience helps staff to regard the new workforce
positively.

& Orient staff to expectations. Not only should staff members be expected to work
within the guidelines of appropriate expectations, but they also should be
rewarded for doing so. When recognizing volunteers, thank the staff who sup-
ported them too. Connect merit raises and other bonuses to this expectation, as
with other job requirements.

& Inform staff about the expectations and reality of the volunteer workforce. The
vast majority of people offering to serve are eager to help—they are not there to
take jobs or to assume 40-hour-a-week responsibilities. Provide staff members
with an update on who is volunteering as well as how they can become valued
members of your organization’s team.

For additional resources on this topic, check out www.energizeinc.com/art/subj/
emp.html.

Conclusion

Organizations benefit from expanding their conceptualization of volunteering to
examine the complex interplay between the needs and goals of the organization or
cause being served and the concerns and expectations of the people potentially deliv-
ering service. Organized on the dual axes of time and connection to service, The Vol-
unteer Involvement Framework highlights the complexity as well as the richness of
volunteers as a resource.

Using the Framework, one can envision relations with a diverse array of
potential volunteers: people who share the same broad goal—to make a
difference—but see it from a number of distinct individual perspectives. As dem-
onstrated here, making a difference can occur when one serves a cause one be-
lieves in, offers a valued skill, and/or acts as part of a network that holds some
personal significance.

Responding to volunteers’ specialized perspectives not only leads to more mean-
ingful experiences for the volunteer but also creates opportunities for you, as a non-
profit leader. Capitalizing on volunteer resources, even those generated through
short-term contacts such as “days of caring” events, can later lead to a cadre of com-
munity supporters: people who know about the organization, value its services, and
may support the mission in an ongoing way. Even brief encounters can build mailing
lists, tell a story, recruit more volunteers, and meet new contacts in key organizations
for collaboration. However, none of this will occur without consciously segmenting
volunteer contacts, planning for effective volunteer engagement, providing resources
to ensure positive volunteer involvement, and targeting volunteer audiences to build
support for the organization.

Conclusion 121

Connors, T. D. (Ed.). (2011). The volunteer management handbook : Leadership strategies for success. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.
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Consider the options the Framework presents when planning for volunteer
engagement, noting not only the opportunities for volunteer support but also the
various management expectations associated with service in each of the four
quadrants. Also, capture sufficient information about community participants to
understand all of the ways in which they might be available and willing to sup-
port the organization.

No framework, regardless of how thoroughly conceptualized, is a substitute for
getting to know the unique needs and concerns of your particular individual volun-
teers. A highly skilled, powerful business executive may want nothing more than to
plant flowers that beautify an urban area or volunteer with his dog, visiting seniors in
a nursing home. Likewise, an arborist may relish the opportunity to create a database
for your organization and use a skill set only marginally connected to her workplace.
The wants and needs of volunteers vary over time. Respecting the time and service
interest of volunteers turns community members into partners jointly committed to an
organization’s success.

Worksheet: Assessing Current Patterns of Volunteer Engagement

Utilize the grid in Exhibit 5.4 first to capture the ways in which volunteers are currently
engaged (remember to include the board of directors). Next, fill in the grid with ideas
for how volunteers might engage in the organization’s future work.

EXHIBIT 5.4 The Volunteer Involvement Framework Worksheet

CONNECTION TO SERVICE !
Affiliation Focus Skill Focus

T
IM

E
F
O
R
SE

R
V
IC
E
!

Short Term

Ongoing

122 Maximizing Volunteer Engagement

Connors, T. D. (Ed.). (2011). The volunteer management handbook : Leadership strategies for success. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.
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Also, assess the effectiveness of your current situation. Where are volunteers most
helpful? How are they managed and supported? How effectively does staff work with
volunteers?

References

Aldape, N., Barker, C., Beekley, T., Berger, T., Bies, A., Brown, A.F., et al. (2006). An
analysis of the nonprofit and volunteer capacity-building industries in Central
Texas. Austin, TX: RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service and the
George Bush School of Government and Public Service.

Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2007, September). Volunteers by how they became
involved with main organization for which volunteer activities were performed
and selected characteristics. Retrieved from www.bls.gov/news.release/volun.
t06.htm

Ellis, S. J. (1996). From the top down: The executive role in volunteer program success.
Philadelphia, PA: Energize, Inc.

Ellis, S. J., & Noyes, K. H. (2003). Proof positive: Developing significant volunteer
recordkeeping systems (rev. ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Energize, Inc.

Ellis, S. J., Weisbord, A., & Noyes, K. H. (2003). Children as volunteers: Preparing for
community service (rev. ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Energize, Inc.

Frumkin, P. (2002). On being nonprofit: A conceptual and policy primer. Cambridge,
MA: Harvard University Press.

Graff, L. (2003). Better safe …: Risk management in volunteer programs & community
service. Dundas, Ontario: Linda Graff and Associates.

Hager, M. A. (2004). Volunteer management capacity in America’s charities and
congregations: A briefing report. Washington, DC: Urban Institute. Retrieved from
www.urban.org/url.cfm?ID-410963.

Independent Sector. (2001). Giving and volunteering in the United States 2001.
Washington, DC: Urban Institute. Retrieved from www.cpanda.org/pdfs/gv/
GV01Report.pdf

McCurley, S. (1993, January/February). How to fire a volunteer and live to tell about it.
Retrieved from www.casanet.org/program-management/volunteer-manage/fire.
htm

Musick, M. A., & Wilson, J. (2008). Volunteers: A social profile. Bloomington, IN:
Indiana University Press.

National CASA Association. (2006, May). National CASA Association standards and
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