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Free Content Community event sustainability: why don’t people volunteer?

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Every Saturday, thousands of runners worldwide participate in parkrun ‐ a free five-kilometre run/walk event. Delivery relies on volunteers, and parkrunners are encouraged to volunteer regularly. However, volunteer recruitment is often difficult, and this study aimed to investigate the underpinning reasons for this. Data were collected from 6,749 parkrunners using an online survey, including 860 who had never volunteered. In addition to demographic information and views on incentives, non-volunteers were asked to rate agreement level for 18 statements about not volunteering. Main reasons were preferring to run or walk and not having got round to it. Principal component analysis indicated four underlying factors: inertia, self-interest, lack of knowledge and anxiety. Non-volunteers were younger, slower runners and walkers, less frequent parkrun attendees and had become involved more recently than volunteers. Ease of signing up to volunteer and being unsure of the commitment required were barriers. It is recommended that these two issues are addressed to help volunteer recruitment.

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Keywords: community health; parkrun; volunteer recruitment; volunteering

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of London and Kingston University, UK 2: Independent postdoctoral scholars 3: Sheffield Hallam University, UK 4: parkrun UK, UK

Publication date: July 2020

This article was made available online on May 18, 2020 as a Fast Track article with title: "Community event sustainability: why don’t people volunteer?".

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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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