Effective Volunteer Engagement for Sustainability and Growth


  • Pete York




volunteer management, volunteer engagement, volunteerism, nonprofit effectiveness, nonprofit capacity building, nonprofit capacity, organizational effectiveness


Nonprofit organizations throughout the United States engage and manage millions of volunteers each year, yet there is little research and/or sets of evidence-based practices for managing them well. This article summarizes two of the most comprehensive survey research studies conducted to date and draws capacity-building implications for the nonprofit sector. Both of the cited studies found that nonprofit organizations struggle to engage and manage volunteers effectively. However, for those few that do it well, there are “net benefits” with respect to cost savings, increased public support, and increased quality of and capacity to deliver services. Additionally, nonprofits that manage and engage volunteers well are more cost efficient, as well as significantly better led, better managed, and more adaptable to exigent changes. Capacity-building organizations, consultants, and other nonprofit intermediaries can improve volunteer management by better assessing and directly addressing nonprofit needs through targeted consulting and training. Additionally, there is a need to bridge the divide between two groups of intermediaries: those focused on volunteerism and those focused on nonprofit capacity building more broadly. This article provides discussion questions and exercises for nonprofit capacity builders and intermediaries to consider and use. 





Proceedings of the Alliance for Nonprofit Management 2015 National Conference