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Designing Organisational Management Frameworks to Empower Episodic Volunteering

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VOLUNTAS: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations Aims and scope Submit manuscript


Volunteers are a critical operational resource for not-for-profit organisations in the health and welfare sector. However, trends towards episodic volunteering may be a source of disruption. This study examined contemporary management beliefs and practices about episodic volunteers in the sector. A cross-sectional online survey with 186 managers and coordinators of episodic volunteers across North America and the Asia Pacific examined organisational values and beliefs about volunteers; perceived benefits and challenges of working with episodic volunteers; volunteering management. Episodic volunteers were highly beneficial to organisational profile, mission, service profile, and cost savings. Challenges include matching recruitment to workplace and skill needs; lack of paid staff to supervise and train volunteers and inadequate administrative support. There is a disjunct between the perceived value provided to the not-for-profit sector by episodic volunteers and the extent to which episodic volunteering is supported through organisational training and management practices.

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We thank Volunteering Queensland for support in promoting this research through their networks.


This project was funded by the Australian Research Council (LP150100368) with additional financial contributions from Cancer Council Queensland and the Union for International Cancer Control.

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JD, PS, MH, KS, LZ and SC contributed to the study conception and design. Material preparation, data collection and analysis were performed by JD, PS, LZ, S-KN, and SC. The first draft of the manuscript was written by JD, S-KN and LZ and all authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Suzanne K. Chambers.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Dunn, J., Scuffham, P., Hyde, M.K. et al. Designing Organisational Management Frameworks to Empower Episodic Volunteering. Voluntas 33, 217–228 (2022).

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