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Evidence-based volunteer management: a review of the literature

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This article reviews 81 articles that directly tested the effectiveness of volunteer management practices. Many articles measured volunteers' perceptions of the quality of management practices, not the practices themselves, making their utility to volunteer managers limited. Most articles used self-reported, cross-sectional surveys and subjective outcome measures such as satisfaction and intent to continue volunteering. Despite these limitations, current research supports the effectiveness of 11 best practices: liability insurance, clearly defined roles, job design, recruitment strategies, screening and matching, orientation and training, supervision and communication, recognition, satisfying motivations, reflection and peer support. No support has yet been found for three supposed best practices suggested by the practitioner literature: written policies, record-keeping and individual evaluations. Future studies should use more rigorous methods, including validated measures, external ratings of volunteer effectiveness, field experiments and longitudinal surveys.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Email: [email protected]

Publication date: July 2018

This article was made available online on July 12, 2018 as a Fast Track article with title: "Evidence-based volunteer management: a review of the literature".

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  • Voluntary Sector Review publishes high-quality, peer-reviewed, accessible papers on third sector research, policy and practice. It is an invaluable cutting-edge resource for all those researching or working in the fast-growing voluntary, community and wider third sectors.

    The journal covers the full range of issues relevant to voluntary sector studies, including: definitional and theoretical debates; management and organisational development; financial and human resources; philanthropy; volunteering and employment; regulation and charity law; service delivery; civic engagement; industry and sub-sector dimensions; relations with other sectors; social enterprise; evaluation and impact. Voluntary Sector Review covers voluntary sector studies from a variety of disciplines, including sociology, social policy, politics, psychology, economics, business studies, social anthropology, philosophy and ethics. The journal includes work from the UK and Europe, and beyond, where cross-national comparisons are illuminating. With dedicated expert policy and practice sections, Voluntary Sector Review also provides an essential forum for the exchange of ideas and new thinking.

    Rigorous and stimulating, Voluntary Sector Review is an indispensable tool for everyone who values empirically-grounded, theoretically-informed and policy-relevant reviews of the future direction of the voluntary sector.

    Editors: Nick Acheson (Trinity College, University of Dublin, Ireland), Bernard Harris (University of Strathclyde, UK), Rob Macmillan, (University of Birmingham, UK)

    The journal is published in association with the Voluntary Sector Studies Network (VSSN) and a print copy of the journal is a membership benefit.

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