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Volunteer motivation and retention

What was the purpose of the Roundtable?

This was Volunteering Victoria’s fifth Research Roundtable. The purpose of the Roundtable was for participants to explore volunteer motivation and its implications for retention.

Who attended?

A mix of 24 researchers and practitioners from across Victoria attended the roundtable, including participants from volunteer resource centres, volunteer-involving organisations and universities. The roundtable was facilitated by Sue Noble (Volunteering Victoria) and hosted by La Trobe University.

What was discussed?

Presentations by Art Stukas, Pam Kappelides and Leonie Lockstone-Binney Associate Professor Art Stukas (La Trobe University)

Presentation on Motivations to Volunteer: Implications for Recruitment and Retention. Using a functional approach to volunteering (Clary, Snyder et al.1 998), Art discussed volunteering motivations from the perspective that volunteers are purposeful, planful and goal oriented.

The research broke down volunteer motivations into the following key areas:

Understanding volunteer motivations leads to higher volunteer satisfaction. To best predict outcomes from volunteering, one must know about both the person and environment.

Academic Pam Kappelides (La Trobe University)

Pam used Psychological Contract (PC) to understand a volunteer’s intention to continue volunteering in a VIO. PC is created in the mind of an employee (in this case a volunteer) based on their perceptions of what promises, mutual beliefs and informal obligations have been agreed on, beyond those of any formal contract of employment with the individuals organisation (Rousseau, 1995 p 9). Interviews were conducted with 40 episodic and traditional volunteers with different demographic profiles.

Key highlights of the research were:

Associate Professor Leonie Lockstone-Binney (William Angliss Institute)

Volunteering is associated with higher levels of wellbeing. Poor health can be a barrier to volunteering. Research examined volunteer stress from the organisational perspective. Collected data during a 40 minute interactive workshop at the 2013 National Volunteering Conference, Adelaide (71% of conference attendees were Volunteer Managers)

Cause of stress include:

Recommendations: organisations implement support mechanisms: provide clear position descriptions, provide stress management, offer job flexibility, training for staff, spend time with volunteers.

A mentoring model can help new volunteers understand their role/duties as well as orientate them in the workplace.

Overall: volunteer management was acknowledged as being an under resourced management function in volunteer-involving organisations.

For more information about this research please contact: leonieL@angliss.edu.au [1]

Practitioner and Academic Panel Discussion

There was general discussion between panellists and participants about a range of issues including:

How do we convince organisations about the importance of volunteers? Influence senior management? What data do we need?

Daniel Leighton from Inclusion Melbourne has benchmarked volunteer costs using postgraduate commerce students. Case Loads are important for good volunteer management. Daniel raised the question of what are the criteria or workload (number of volunteers) for a Volunteer Manager