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Characteristics that Motivate a Volunteer Workforce: A Case Study of One of America’s Largest Volunteer Organizations

Jono A Anzalone, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


A vast amount of research exists on organizational development and leadership theory targeted for organizations with a paid workforce as well as literature that discusses volunteer motivation and management. However, existing literature fails to address leadership theory, practices in organizational development, and performance improvement for a volunteer-led workforce, one in which both volunteer and paid staff compose the workforce. A bridge of the gap in literature is needed to help inform training and development practices of the American Red Cross and other non-governmental organizations. In addition, high volunteer turnover and low satisfaction has a costly impact on organizations critical mission delivery, due to decreased productivity. Therefore, the following research question is explored: What characteristics are most effective motivating a volunteer workforce? Grounded in constructivism and using qualitative research methods, this question is addressed through interviews with American Red Cross volunteers located throughout the United States. The study provides practical recommendations for nonprofit administrators and Red Cross leaders for managing, leading, and motivating a volunteer workforce. Implications for further research is provided on the leadership of a volunteer workforce and the design of leadership development programs.

Subject Area

Educational leadership

Recommended Citation

Anzalone, Jono A, "Characteristics that Motivate a Volunteer Workforce: A Case Study of One of America’s Largest Volunteer Organizations" (2020). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI27956021.