Retention and the Volunteer Experience: An Organizational Perspective

2013-06-28T00:00:00Z (GMT) by Lindsay R. Bynum
Volunteer retention affects both volunteers and the organizations they serve. Previous research is almost exclusively from the volunteer’s perspective, while much of what retains them is based on the agencies they work in. Despite a shortage of studies analyzing the effects of organizational context on volunteering, organizations greatly shape the volunteer experience and exploring their perspectives on retention contributes to a more complete picture of the volunteering phenomenon. This study used grounded theory methodology to describe and better understand how nonprofits think and strategize about volunteer retention. Using a semi-structured format, 20 participants were interviewed from nonprofits that use volunteers as their primary work force. I concluded that volunteer retention is less about direct retention strategies and more about how organizations create the volunteer experience. The themes central to creating the volunteer experience are volunteer selection, volunteer management, and relationship building. I propose that organizations go through these three processes when retaining volunteers, and think about retention in terms of these features.

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