The existing body of research on volunteer retention relies on face-to-face practices; however, many nonprofit organizations increasingly rely on online communication to connect with
volunteers. The research reported in this paper explores the role a virtual community for national service members played in supporting volunteer motivation through the lens of Deci and Ryan’s (1985, 2002) Self Determination Theory. A qualitative analysis found that when members had the opportunity to communicate asynchronously online, they discussed their motivation for serving, provided emotional support to one another, and collaborated on projects.
Key Words: volunteer retention, virtual community, qualitative analysis, AmeriCorps, national service
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The Campaign to Create Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument: A Case Study
In 2014 a previously little-known, but archaeologically rich, area outside of the neon city of Las Vegas, Nevada was designated by Congress as the Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument (TUSK). This case study will show how well-coordinated voluntary action was largely responsible for the creation of this national monument. There are three primary objectives for this research project; first, to provide a sequential overview of how a group of women (and later a larger group of community members) went from a loosely connected group to a functioning nonprofit, formally recognized by the IRS and the greater community. Second, to highlight how cause-oriented activism can be latent within a group of people but, when activated, can result in long-lasting change and third, to briefly highlight how this national monument was created largely because of the incredible commitment and work of local activists and voluntary action.
Key Words: volunteers, environmental issues, voluntary action national monuments
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Evaluating Volunteer Competencies to Achieve Organizational Goals
Dustin Homan, Kirk L. Bloir, Ph.D., Hannah K. Epley, Ph.D.
Volunteers with competence in specific areas of knowledge, skills, and abilities are better able to thrive in their roles, and aid the organization in achieving its desired outcomes and impacts. Organizations with volunteers should engage stakeholders to establish volunteer competencies, and periodically review and revise them. A descriptive, cross-sectional study using a mixed-methods design was commenced to explore and compare perceptions from three stakeholder groups about six volunteer competency and personality trait categories. The categories had not been reviewed in nearly 10 years. Additionally, the study gathered data from an important stakeholder group who had not been consulted when the competencies and personality traits were initially crafted – clients. Over 10,000 responses were received through an online survey. Respondents generally agreed the six volunteer competency and personality trait categories were still important for volunteers to possess. However, new themes emerged from qualitative comments about other knowledge and skill areas in which volunteers should be trained, such as how to positively engage youth with mental health disorders and physical disabilities. Results from this study will assist the organization with prioritizing its future volunteer orientations and trainings, along with making changes to its recruitment and evaluation processes. Volunteer resource managers should consider replicating a process similar to the one outlined in the study to create new, or evaluate current, volunteer competencies.
Key Words: volunteer management, competency, training, performance
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