Magazine article Stanford Social Innovation Review

Getting Volunteers in the Door

Magazine article Stanford Social Innovation Review

Getting Volunteers in the Door

Article excerpt

NONPROFIT MANAGEMENT

Consider two nonprofits: an environmental organization in the heart of a downtown district and a history museum on a city's outskirts in a community with older residents. By virtue of its mission and location, the environmental nonprofit will likely have an easier time recruiting young volunteers.

Although the museum could also try to attract younger people, the demographic of its volunteers may be harder to change than other factors, such as the organization's culture, says Mark Hager, an associate professor of nonprofit studies at Arizona State University "There's an assumption that managers can always create strategies to be able to conquer issues, and I think many problems or issues they face are beyond the ability to manage them," he says.

Hager and Jeffrey Brudney a professor of urban affairs at Cleveland State University, decided to divide factors that could affect volunteer recruitment into two categories. "Nature" factors, which are more difficult to change, included the organization's size and typical age of volunteers; "nurture" factors, which might be more easily changed, included volunteer management practices and organizational culture. To find out which factors had the biggest effects on recruitment, they analyzed volunteerrelated survey data gathered from 1,361 US charities.

On the nature side, younger volunteers were linked to fewer recruitment problems. This came as a surprise, because a previous study using the same survey data suggested that young volunteers were harder to retain. …

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