Purpose: The ability to attract and retain volunteers is crucial for not-for-profit organizations, and consequently, the need to understand and manage volunteers’ engagement is paramount. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the role of five volunteer engagement dimensions (cognitive, affective, behavioral, social and spiritual engagement) on perceived value-in-context, and its subsequent role for volunteer retention. Thus, providing for the first time an understanding of how unique types of value are determined through different facets of volunteer engagement.
Design/methodology/approach: To establish the nature and consequences of volunteer engagement, the authors collaborated with an Australian not-for-profit service organization. Using a survey method, the authors studied the organization’s volunteer workforce resulting in 464 usable responses. To capture volunteers’ degree of spiritual engagement, this paper introduces a rigorously developed unidimensional measure.
Findings: The results demonstrate the importance of the five engagement dimensions on volunteers’ perceived value-in-context, while highlighting significant effect differences including some counterintuitive consequences. The authors also establish the role of spiritual engagement and demonstrate the impact of value-in-context for volunteer retention.
Originality/value: This research explores the volunteer engagement-retention chain, by empirically studying the role of value-in-context. The authors provide first evidence for the relationship between volunteer engagement and value-in-context, examining the independent yet relative effects of various facets of volunteer engagement. In doing so, the authors offer new insight into the dimensionality of the volunteer engagement construct, broadening its conceptualization to include spiritual engagement as a core constituent. The authors further demonstrate the impact of value-in-context on volunteer retention, helping organizations to better make sense of meaningful volunteer experiences with long-lasting impacts and mutual benefits.
Bibliographical notePublished online: 23 September 2019
- Volunteer engagement
- Spiritual engagement