Exploring the ‘nurture’ of volunteer co-ordination – a research outline
Studer, Sibylle (2011)

by Sibylle Studer, Georg von Schnurbein, Centre for Philanthropy Studies (CEPS)

The increasing claim for professionalization in the voluntary sector and new trends in volunteering challenge organisations to improve their way of how they handle volunteers. Volunteer coordination is not just about the well established practices following the volunteer management cycle (Cuskelly, Taylor, et al. 2006), but also about providing an organisational context in order to offer incentives for quality service. While balancing the needs of volunteers and the needs of the organisation, volunteer coordinators should foster the ‘nurture’ of volunteer coordination, whereas they are limited by the ‘nature’ of their organisation (Hager/Brudney 2010). An Inventory for measuring the volunteer-friendliness of an organisation contributes to the understanding of how organisations can shape their relationship with the volunteers.

Based on the research question of “how can volunteer-friendliness of an organization be measured?”, this paper explores possibilities to capture attitudes towards volunteers within an organisation and the underlying values. In a literature research, organisational factors affecting volunteers have already been identified and structured (Studer, von Schnurbein 2011). The attitudes & values towards volunteers, (re)defined by social processes of integration and sensemaking, have mostly been studied with qualitative methods. This papers intends to develop an inventory in order to measure dimensions of volunteer-friendliness in organisational attitudes (and subsequent behaviour) with quantitative methods.

In a further step, the volunteer-friendliness inventory will be used for multivariate data analysis. Its impact on the success of volunteer coordination and moderating factors – such as hardly changeable organisational features – will be explored.


Allen, K. (2006). From Motivation to Action Through Volunteer-Friendly Organizations in: International Journal of Volunteer Administration, 14, 1, 41-44.

Cuskelly, G., Taylor, T., Hoye, R. and Darcy, S. (2006). Volunteer Management Practices and Volunteer Retention: A Human Resource Management Approach, in: Sport Management Review (Sport Management Association of Australia & New Zealand), 9, 2, 141-163.

Hager, M. A. and Brudney, J. L. (2010). Problems Recruiting Volunteers: Nature versus Nurture, conference paper, 2010 Annual Conference of the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action, Washington.

Studer, S. and von Schnurbein, G. (2011). Organisational factors affecting volunteers: a literature review on volunteer coordination, conference paper, European University of Voluntary Service. Conference on ‘Volunteer work between freedom and professionalization’, Basel, Switzerland.

Sibylle’s presentation is available here (Powerpoint format) and a summary paper here (pdf format)

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