Retaining Volunteers in the Age of Precarious Work

Lorna Stefanick, Rebecca Best-Bertwistle, Lynsey S. Race

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


While recruiting and retaining volunteers is critical for nonprofit organizations that depend on unpaid labor, surprisingly little scholarship has focused on why volunteers quit. This study analyzes the reasons for volunteer withdrawal in the largest youth mentorship organization in North America, The Boys & Girls Clubs, and Big Brothers Big Sisters (BGCBigs) in Edmonton, Canada. Much effort is put into recruiting volunteers; however, the large number of BGCBigs’ recruits that quit puts a substantial strain on organizational resources. This case study found that unstable employment and shift work are major impediments to volunteering; it provides a conceptual model of determinants of volunteer retention that may be useful to other organizations struggling to retain volunteers in a rapidly changing labor market. As fewer people enjoy employment security in a globalized economy, the impact of difficult working conditions on volunteerism can be expected to increase, particularly in those organizations that depend on young, female volunteers, as well as those which require commitments deemed “high stakes” in terms of time and impact.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)124-146
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Nonprofit and Public Sector Marketing
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar. 2020


  • Volunteer recruitment
  • high stakes’ volunteer
  • mentorship
  • precarious employment
  • volunteer retention


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