Arizona State University

Contact Information

Arizona State University - ORSPA
660 S Mill Ave, Ste 312
Tempe, AZ 85281 - 3670
(602) 496-1058
FY 2017 National Service and Civic Engagement Research

Executive Summary

In 2003 and 2004, as a research associate at the Urban Institute, Mark Hager served as project director for a CNCS- and UPS Foundation-funded study titled "Survey on the Capacity of the Volunteer Infrastructure of Local Nonprofit Organizations." Jeff Brudney emerged as a key collaborator on virtually all outputs for that study; Brudney coined the term "volunteer management capacity" (VMC), which became the operative concept and enduring name of the study. The research question was simple: do nonprofit organizations have policies and procedures in place to maximize the experience and contributions of their volunteers? We learned that organizations vary in their capacity to effectively recruit and retain their volunteers.

"VMC I" is still the only national (U.S.) study of volunteer administration, and practitioners, teachers, and researchers routinely point to it. However, the world has changed in key ways over the past 14 years. However, we still regularly hear stories of executive directors and boards who choose not to invest in their volunteer programs, despite volunteer administrators who point to our 2004 admonitions that volunteer management capacity breeds happy and productive volunteers. Our job is not done.

We propose an update to the 2003 study. We will return to the original nonprofit sample to see how volunteer management capacity has evolved in these organizations over time. We will supplement that sample with organizations that have been founded in the last 14 years, and weight the pooled samples to gain a current picture of the state of volunteer management capacity in nonprofit organizations across the United States. A web survey will provide the core data. As in the first study, the focus will be on the organizational characteristics and practices associated with effective and productive management. The more we understand the dynamics of volunteer administration, the more we can do to strengthen our civic infrastructure.

Back to Top