Problems Recruiting Volunteers:
Nature versus Nurture
Arizona State University
Cleveland State University
U.S. Volunteer Management
Capacity Study, 2003
• Sample of 2,993 Form 990 filers.
• Telephone interview with representatives
from 1,753 organizations.
• Focus on 1,361 who work with volunteers.
• Interviews average 20 minutes; questions on
broad variety of organizational characteristics.
• Weight adjustments by size and whether we
could reach them in a pre-call.
• 24% report big problems
recruiting enough volunteers.
• 18% report big problems
recruiting volunteers with the
right skills or expertise.
• 25% report big problems
recruiting volunteers during the
What is the source of recruitment
• Nature: Innate to the organization or its
: Beyond the control of managers
• Nurture: The result of organizational culture
or strategic decisions.
: Within the control of managers
• Size of the organization
• Prevailing age of its volunteers
• Staff-focus: ratio of staff to
• Intensiveness of volunteer use
• Number of types of duties
available to volunteers
• Degree of adoption of volunteer
• Organization’s cultural
orientation toward support of
• Use of recruitment strategies
• Written policies, job descriptions
• Training for paid staff re
• Liability coverage
• Recognition activities
• Regular data collection
• Training for volunteers
• Screening and matching
• Supervision and communication
• Time manager spends on VRM
• Lack funds for supporting
• Indifference or resistance to
volunteers on the part of paid staff
or board members
• Lack of paid staff time to properly
train and supervise volunteers
• Number of methods for recruiting
At groups Papers/flyers
Radio Referral orgs
Internet Special events
TV Word of mouth
• Use of volunteers to recruit other
Nature portion of final model
Age: Percent volunteers under 24 - ***
Role of volunteers in organization
Ratio: staff to volunteers ns
Volunteer intensiveness - ***
Number of volunteer duties ns
Nurture portion of final model
Volunteer management capacity
Written policies ns
Training for paid staff - ***
Liability coverage + *
Recognition activities ns
Regular data collection ns
Training for volunteers ns
Screening and matching ns
Supervision and communication ns
Time VRM spends on volunteer management ns
Lack funds for supporting volunteers + ***
Indifference from staff + **
Lack time for staff to train and supervise volunteers + ***
Number of recruitment methods + ***
Volunteers used to recruit ns
• Nonprofits of all sizes experience recruitment
successes and problems.
• Reliance on young volunteers brings fewer
challenges in recruitment.
• As overall volunteer intensiveness increases,
recruitment problems decrease.
• For recruitment, volunteer management
capacity must focus on the professional side.
• A supportive organizational culture is
essential. Volunteers will not go where they
believe they will not be valued.
• Scattershot recruitment does not solve
recruitment problems. Focus and develop a
few key recruitment approaches.