If you Google it, there are 10 times the number of articles on “volunteer recruitment” than “volunteer retention.” With the number of volunteers declining nationally, understanding the dynamics and rates of volunteer retention for different groups of volunteers is crucial.
In this Research to Practice, reviewer Laurie Mook presents the findings of several studies that investigate predictors of volunteer retention, with a special focus on a recent study that explores how volunteers’ feeling of “community service self-efficacy” (CSSE) affects their continued volunteer engagement. This study—based on results of a volunteer program assessment survey of volunteers in three U.S. nonprofit organizations—was influenced by research on students in service-learning courses. In terms of practice, a volunteer’s feeling of CSSE can be assessed in the recruitment process, and increases or decreases in CSSE measured periodically. As Mook explains, this information can be useful for developing and refining volunteer management practices that contribute to volunteer retention.