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Engage Library

Research to Practice

Research to Practice seeks to identify, review and interpret academic and other research important to the volunteer engagement field. Because the various reports and studies are discussed in terms of their major relevance to practitioners, each of the articles is also listed in the Engage Library by subject covered.

Much has been written about the differences between paid staff and volunteers and the need to develop a management style for volunteers that takes into account their unique characteristics. But to date much volunteer practice has lagged behind the research, with many…
October 2016
Volunteer recognition is one of the few aspects of volunteer involvement about which we actually have quite a bit of reliable information. Mostly this is because volunteer recognition is simple to evaluate since recognition is, after all, in the eye of the receiver: “Does the…
July 2016
Today’s workplaces may have as many as five generations of workers, each raised in different times with different influences affecting their work styles. The same is true of volunteer programs. Organizations are now experiencing many different generations of volunteers…
April 2016
  /*-->*/ There are many research studies on volunteerism from the perspective of volunteers. Among other things, researchers have asked volunteers why they do or do not volunteer, and why they remain in their roles or leave. However, research from the perspective of paid…
January 2016
Volunteer stress is an important topic. While there are a good number of studies looking at this in terms of implications for the volunteer’s health and well-being, this quarter’s Research to Practice reviews exploratory research that analyzes the issue from an organizational…
October 2015
In this Research to Practice, Laurie Mook reviews a study examining factors that influence volunteer satisfaction and volunteer contributions, defined as a combination of the number of programs involved in and the number of hours served. Specifically, the study looked at…
July 2015
In this quarter’s Research to Practice, Laurie Mook reviews a study by Mark A. Hager and Jeffrey L. Brudney testing whether or not the “adoption of ‘best practices’ (such as interviewing volunteers, matching them to assignments, supervising volunteer activities, and recognizing…
April 2015
This quarter’s Research to Practice reviews an article that presents a way to measure the social returns on investment in volunteer recruiting, training, and management. Called Social Return on Investment, or SROI, it is a type of cost-benefit analysis that compares the present…
January 2015
Understanding the health benefits of volunteering for older adults can provide multiple opportunities for increasing the impact of nonprofit organizations, and the quality of life generally in our communities. From a volunteer management perspective, this has implications for…
October 2014
Organizations use many different approaches to attract and retain volunteers. For instance, one attempt at a macro level is required high school service, which aims in part to inspire large numbers of students to continue with volunteering into their adult lives by having them…
July 2014
This quarter’s Research to Practice contributes to the theme of Volunteer Centers. Reviewer Laurie Mook looks at a study of the direct and secondary impacts of the HandsOn Network and its affiliated member organizations: Measuring the Impact of HandsOn Network: An Evaluation of…
April 2014
The debate continues over whether or not students in service-learning placements should be considered volunteers, and this type of unpaid labor often falls under the purview of a volunteer resource manager. Indeed, engaging service-learners is one strategy that can be used to…
January 2014
In the last quarter century, nonprofits have increasingly been held accountable for the resources that have been entrusted to them. For some organizations, accountability mechanisms have been imposed left, right, and center, as funders and donors seek to monitor the use of the…
October 2013
In 2009, Jeffrey L. Brudney and Lucas C.P.M. Meijs proposed a new way of thinking about volunteer resources: as a natural resource which must be managed sustainably or it will be exhausted. In their article, "It Ain’t Natural: Toward a New (Natural) Resource Conceptualization…
July 2013
There has been quite a bit of research on volunteer satisfaction, but not so much on volunteer manager satisfaction. How satisfied are volunteer managers with their jobs?  Do their working conditions differ from those of managers of paid staff? What are the implications for…
April 2013
We hear over and over again how volunteers are indispensable to many organizations. While we have previously covered articles on different methods used to estimate a value for volunteer contributions, a new study out of New Zealand looks at how volunteer value is communicated,…
January 2013
This issue’s Research to Practice provides great food for thought on organizational factors affecting volunteer management. For example, how do the goals of the organization, area of activity, or degree of bureaucracy impact the role that a volunteer management program can take…
October 2012
In this issue, author Laurie Mook looks at an interesting case study of the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House as an example of how to measure the direct impact of volunteer service on the organization, clients and volunteers themselves. The research – conducted by Debbie Haski-…
July 2012
In this Research to Practice, author Laurie Mook reviews the use of social computing technologies by volunteer coordinators at nonprofit organizations. Mook looks at research on use and non-use of technology, based on interviews with 23 volunteer coordinators from three…
April 2012
Volunteer “voice” in nonprofit organizations has not been the topic of a lot of study. What happens, for instance, when volunteers encounter situations they find dissatisfying? This issue’s Research to Practice looks at this subject through “Volunteering an Opinion:…
January 2012