A 2003 study titled “Survey on the Capacity of the Volunteer Infrastructure of Local Nonprofit Organization” asked a simple question: do nonprofit organizations have policies and procedures in place to maximize the experience and contributions of their volunteers? The study coined the term “volunteer management capacity” as a measurement of an organization’s capacity to effectively recruit and retain volunteers. Now, Dr. Mark Hager, Arizona State University, and Dr. Jeffery Brudney, University of North Carolina Wilmington, are using this operative concept to continue research under their 2017 National Service and Civic Engagement Research grant from AmeriCorps.
The research team comprised of members from both schools are returning to the original nonprofit sample from the 2003 study to see how volunteer management capacity has evolved in these organizations over time. This sample will be supplemented with organizations that were founded after the original study to gain a current picture of the state of volunteer management capacity in nonprofit organizations across the United States. A web survey will provide the core data.
The focus will be on the organizational characteristics and practices associated with effective and productive volunteer management. The findings based on this analysis will be a resource to practitioners and policymakers who are reorganizing work to create economic opportunity in disadvantaged communities. It will also contribute to the broader conversation about redesigning civic infrastructure to reinvigorate American democracy.