Investigating the lack of volunteer engagement and how this could be improved through recruitment marketing and management strategy

Stanton, F. Atkinson, D. Clifford, J: Investigating the lack of volunteer engagement and how this could be
improved through recruitment marketing and management strategy

WEI International Academic Conference on Business, Economics, Management and
Finance (Harvard Faculty Club 2019, Boston, USA), July 29-August 2,


The purpose of this paper is twofold; to better understand engagement and motivation factors of volunteers, with a focus on
those working with young people, and to use this improved understanding to make informed recommendations on recruitment marketing and management techniques. This is with the aim of improving the retention rate of volunteers, to ensure the continued viability and longevity of third sector organisations that rely on volunteering. 

The current literature is largely lacking regarding engagement recruitment and management within volunteer roles. There is some literature surrounding recruitment strategies for workers within the third sector, with a focus on incentives that stretch beyond remuneration and the impact of the “warm glow feeling” (Andreoni,1989), discussed further on. However, when considering the total lack of remuneration for volunteers, as well as the small budget for recruitment within many organisations it can be hard to develop and maintain a high retention rate. Retention here is the overall end goal, the “north star” as it were, as this leads to greater skill sharing and fewer knowledge gaps and training requirements (all of which have associated costs). The research laid out here had a focus on the Scout Association UK, although the findings and resulting recommendations are applicable throughout the third sector, especially for organisations with a focus on young people.

The lack of literature presents a gap that this paper aims to bridge through primary research and by developing standard primary sector recruitment marketing strategies and methodologies. Whilst these present a grounding upon which to formulate recommendations for strategy, there remain large gaps that arise as a result of the lack in incentives for engagement and retention.

The conclusion revolves around a need for smart marketing and a strong culture of support networks and training materials to improve engagement. An increase in awareness, driven through a digital marketing strategy and traditional methods should, ideally, lead to increased numbers of volunteers. Additionally, with an understanding of motivating factors and a focus on the perception of altruism (and its place in volunteer recruitment), more effective recruitment campaigns can be built.