From doer to stayer: Dispositional and organisational factors affecting sustained volunteering in community service organisations


Ryan, Michael Francis. (2014). From doer to stayer: Dispositional and organisational factors affecting sustained volunteering in community service organisations [Thesis].
AuthorsRyan, Michael Francis
Qualification nameDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Sustained volunteering – the continued service of a volunteer with a particular organisation – is a critical issue for organisations that depend on the contribution of volunteers for the continuation of their programs and the achievement of their goals. The purpose of this research was to determine the extent to which selected dispositional and organisational factors influence a volunteer’s sustained involvement with a community service organisation. A conceptual model of sustained volunteering was developed based on Omoto and Snyder’s Volunteer Process Model (Omoto & Snyder, 1995, 2002) and on perspectives drawn from the theory of planned behaviour and psychological contract theory. This model included the following dispositional and organisational variables: motivation to volunteer, benefits of volunteering, motivation-benefit match, self-efficacy for volunteering, collective efficacy of the organisation, satisfaction with the volunteering experience, affective organisational commitment and intention to continue volunteering. Demographic and contextual variables were included as potentially explanatory variables. The questionnaire which surveyed these variables comprised original scales and established psychosocial scales. A cross-sectional survey design was used. Responses were received from 454 volunteers, which represents an overall response rate of 71%, from three community service organisations: the St Vincent de Paul Society (NSW & ACT), the NSW Rural Fire Service and the Benevolent Society. The statistical analysis of the data included correlational as well as path analysis to build a structural equation model that fits the data with high reliability. The resultant empirical model has high explanatory power of sustained volunteering within this sample group. Affective commitment and collective efficacy emerged as the strongest predictors of sustained volunteering; other significant influences included self-efficacy in handling volunteering tasks, social motivation, and the matching of benefits to motivation based on personal values. Satisfaction, self-efficacy, and matching of benefits to values and social motivations were significant direct influences on affective commitment and, hence, indirect influences on sustained volunteering. This research contributes significantly to knowledge of volunteering. This research builds on and extends prior models of volunteering by testing a new model of sustained volunteering which includes multiple dispositional and organisational variables and, critically, uses a large sample and diverse population. The diversity of this sample argues for the generalisability of the model across sectors and organisations that rely on volunteers and are concerned to sustain continuity of service of volunteers. The use of this model, as well as the inclusion of self-efficacy and collective efficacy measures, adds to methodological and conceptual development in volunteer research. The findings of this study further advance the discourse in research on volunteers by focusing on the individual within the context of the organisation – the sustained iv involvement of the volunteer – rather than focusing on the perspective of the organisation – volunteer retention. Moreover, the model focusses on a volunteer’s continued volunteering with a particular organisation rather than their continuation as a volunteer per se based on volunteer role identity. This study further adds to the knowledge of volunteers’ motivations, their perceived effectiveness as a volunteer, and their perceptions of the volunteering experience, and provides organisations with important information and insights to assist them in managing their volunteer resource. The findings of this study indicate also that organisations would benefit from viewing the volunteer’s involvement from the perspective of the volunteer, not only from the organisation’s perspective.

PublisherAustralian Catholic University
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Research GroupSchool of Education
Final version
Publication dates01 Jun 2014
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