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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.

While volunteers play a critical role in many organizations, it can be difficult to integrate them seamlessly into day-to-day operations. One particular challenge involves a lack of clarity about the role of volunteers relative to the work of paid staff, which can lead to…
January 2024
In the summer of 2023, Arizona State University and the Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration hosted more than 100 volunteer administrators in 21 virtual focus groups. The topic was attitudes and experience in making organizations more inviting to a greater…
October 2023
The research reviewed by Laurie Mook in this issue of Research to Practice explores factors that support the engageability of volunteers. As distinct from satisfaction, volunteer engageability is the ability of an organization to provide conditions that maximize the involvement…
July 2023
On a scale of 1 to 10, would you recommend your organization to a friend? Would your volunteers? Incorporating this question into your volunteer survey – along with an open-ended question asking for suggestions on how your organization could improve or enhance the volunteer…
April 2023
Schools, corporations and volunteer centers all send individuals and groups to perform volunteer service. In doing so, they have control over who is included and excluded in these activities. Encouraging volunteer-sending organizations to pay more attention to underrepresented…
January 2023
The research highlighted in this Research to Practice explores age and episodic volunteers. Are individuals in different age groups motivated to volunteer for episodic events for different reasons? Do they experience their volunteering differently? Do they assess their…
October 2022
In this Research to Practice, Laurie Mook looks at a new way of viewing the role of volunteer programs, that of a ‘third place.’ While our lives are often looked at as being divided between home (‘first place’) and work (‘second place’), urban sociology now proposes a ‘third…
July 2022
Job design is typically a top-down process where organizations construct job descriptions that set expectations against which workers’ performances are measured and managed. Job crafting, on the other hand, is a bottom-up process where workers set the specifics of achieving a…
April 2022
Social media was an imperfect tool before the pandemic. So we might not be too surprised to learn that civic organizations report mixed success as they worked through the pandemic and tried to find new ways to engage volunteers through social media. In this Research to Practice…
January 2022
In this issue's Research to Practice, reviewer Laurie Mook looks at a very interesting study of online volunteer mentors. Researchers compared the quality of volunteering between four different online mentor groups who participated on the same platform in the same activities:…
October 2021
In 2003, while working at The Urban Institute, Mark A. Hager spearheaded a national study of volunteer administration called the Volunteer Management Capacity (VMC) study. In 2019, he returned to the field to collect new information and update the study. In this Research to…
July 2021
What if we addressed societal issues as a shared, co-productive responsibility of all members of society? What role would volunteers play? How would nonprofit and volunteer management look different? These are some of the questions addressed in a study of volunteerism in…
April 2021
Meaningful volunteering is one way for employees with high work demands to recover from stressful work situations. Employees who volunteer show higher levels of positive organizational citizenship behaviors than employees who don’t volunteer. At the same time, many nonprofit…
January 2021
In this issue of Research to Practice, Laurie Mook reviews a study that explores the question, ‘Why do volunteers choose the particular organization they do to volunteer for?’ The researchers in the study use a marketing perspective, where the volunteer’s choice of organization…
October 2020
Thirty-five years ago, Susan J. Ellis published an article in the Journal of Voluntary Action (now Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly) entitled “Research on volunteerism: What needs to be done.” Ellis mused – in 1985 – that the only subject at that time that seemed to…
July 2020
Now more than ever, technology is playing an all-encompassing role in keeping nonprofits and volunteer programs going. While volunteer-matching apps and social media platforms have been around for a while, social distancing takes us to a whole other level in terms of technology…
April 2020
In this Research to Practice, Laurie Mook reviews two articles that bring together issues related to measuring the impact of volunteering, and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs are a set of 17 goals that address social, economic, and…
January 2020
Adults 65 and older are an increasing demographic, with many retired from work and reinvesting some of their time into volunteering. A new challenge for volunteer administrators is managing these older adults and, eventually, managing their decisions to withdraw or retire…
October 2019
High school students do not often think of nonprofits as an option for career-building. Although they may have been exposed to nonprofits through volunteering or community service requirements, they are generally guided by career counselors and their parents to have career…
July 2019
With more and more volunteer recruitment done online, it is important to take a step back and look at who has or doesn’t have the opportunity to volunteer as a result of not having household Internet access. Has digital access changed the demographics of who is being asked to…
April 2019