Retention of Volunteers in the Context of Motivation Theory

6355 words 26 pages
Volunteer Retention in the Context of Motivation Theory
Margaret Naylor, RN, MRCNA, AMPA, M Ed, M Internet Comm, B A, B Nurs.
St John Ambulance Australia [ACT]
May 2012

This paper examines the literature addressing the underlying factors in long term commitment of volunteers to community service organisations. It places the reasons given by volunteers for both joining and staying, into the context of motivation theory. It is motivation theory that provides a foundation for understanding what attracts volunteers to community service, what factors encourage them to stay long term and what causes them to leave. The paper concludes that when those factors are interpreted from the perspective of motivation theory, managers of
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She found that “it is increasingly rare for a volunteer to commit to many hours in a long term, ongoing position [p12]”. Graff says this is partly due to changed lifestyles; for example most families now have two wage earners, geographic and employment mobility have increased, and there is a multitude of organised leisure activities to take up the free time previous generations may have given to volunteering. If she is correct, community service organisations that depend on volunteers will not be able to continue to operate as they have in the past, they will have to adapt in order to cater for short term and intermittent as well as ongoing volunteers, to encompass those who are willing to give their time only in short bursts as well as those who give regular hours week after week. Esmond [2001] agrees, adding that even the Baby Boomers, who are the best source of long term commitment, are not prepared to be tied to set hours on a regular basis, and that “To effectively respond to the Baby Boomer generation, now and in the future, organisations will need to re-develop their strategies so as to meet the needs of the short-term, time-limited volunteer” [p30].
Who Volunteers?
The literature consistently reports statistics that show there are differences in the volunteering pattern according to age groupings, for all community service areas other than children’s activities. The Corporation for National and Community


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