Exploring Volunteer Management in the Public Sector: What are the Challenges in Managing Volunteers in Local Government?
Description: To effectively provide services to citizens, local governments have had to be creative. One approach has been the creation of volunteer programs to meet demands and expanding needs. Volunteer programs hold promise for creating meaningful engagement opportunities for citizens. However, limited organizational capacity, inadequate volunteer management practices, and difficulties in maintaining volunteer retention are concerns plaguing local government volunteer programs. Volunteer programs are often structured around a set of best practices thought to be necessary for ensuring the retention of volunteers. To apply best practices across the board would suggest that local government volunteer programs are similar in organizational structure, budget size, amount of citizen engagement, accountability concerns, and that they adopt similar bureaucratic procedures. Using human relations and bureaucratic theories as theoretical frameworks, four research questions are asked and answered: 1) What are the managerial and political challenges in volunteer management and retention for local government volunteer coordinators?, 2) What challenges are local governments' volunteer coordinators facing in using volunteer management practices?, 3) What strategies are helpful in retaining volunteers in local government volunteerism?, and 4) What challenges do local government volunteer coordinators face in engaging citizens? Data collection for this qualitative study was conducted using online surveys and telephone semi-structured interviews. The findings suggest that creating meaningful work for volunteers and coordinating this work with local government managers was an important "best practices" challenge. Although local government volunteer programs also have a mission of engaging citizens, the practices actually used may directly conflict with their mission. Many volunteer management practices are supporting organizational goals rather than supporting the needs of volunteers. The study findings suggest that the best practices used by local governments are not given equal weight and "one size does not fit all." Instead, local governments must prioritize their practices carefully.
Date: August 2016
Creator: Sillah, Aminata A
Partner: UNT Libraries