Gilbert, Guinevere, Michelle Turner, & Sarah Holdsworth (2021, June). Understanding volunteer commitment to a project: Testing a conceptual model. International Journal of Managing Projects in Business. (ePub in advance of print) (doi: 10.1108/IJMPB-06-2020-0200)

Abstract: Purpose: In Australia, it is estimated that volunteers provide over $14.6 billion of unpaid labour to not-for-profit organisations. Much of the work that volunteers undertake is within a project context, yet the impact of a project and its environment on volunteer commitment is unknown. A conceptual model proposes three categories of factors that impact volunteer commitment to a project: purposeful, emotional and contextual. The purpose of this research is to empirically explore the conceptual model of volunteer commitment with volunteers working on projects in order to seek support for, and refine, the model. Design/methodology/approach: The research design was exploratory and Q methodology was used as a framework to collect and analyse data. Forty-one Australian volunteers engaged in project-based tasks participated in the study. Findings: Refinement of the initial conceptual model of volunteer commitment is required. The three categories that influence volunteer commitment to a project should be labelled “my contribution”, “relationships” and “the project”. The revised model shows early evidence that the project itself is the main commitment building factor. Originality/value: Whilst volunteer retention is not a new field of knowledge, research such as this further informs not-for-profit organisations in their volunteer recruitment and retention practices.

Guinevere Gilbert <guinevere.gilbert@rmit.edu.au> is in the School of Property, Construction and Project Management, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia.

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