Study Finds Nonprofits Lack Effective Volunteer Management

According to a study by the Urban Institute, more than 80 percent of nonprofits rely on volunteers but do not have the knowledge to engage and manage them effectively.

The study, which received support from the UPS Foundation, the Corporation for National and Community Service, and USA Freedom Corps, surveyed nearly 1,800 nonprofit organizations about such topics as how they recruit, engage, and manage volunteers, and what value those volunteers add to their programs. According to the report, Volunteer Management Capacity in America's Charities and Congregations: A Briefing Report, 60 percent of charitable organizations and one-third of congregations with social-service programs said they had paid staff working on volunteer coordination. Among this pool, however, half reported spending less than 30 percent of their time on the management of volunteers. Based on the results, the report concludes that additional resources devoted to volunteer management would generate more productivity from volunteers, thereby justifying the investment of additional resources.

"Nonprofits are using thousands of volunteers every day in this country and making a huge impact," said Evern Cooper, president of the UPS Foundation. "However, volunteers aren't free; it takes conscious effort and interest to engage them effectively.... We want to celebrate success and share effective volunteer management practices widely. At the same time, we want to learn from nonprofits what we, as funders, can do to help them overcome challenges and fill gaps in volunteer management."

A summary (2 pages, PDF) of the findings and the full briefing (36 pages, PDF) are available on the UPS Web site.

"Nonprofits Still Find It Difficult To Manage Volunteers, Study Says." UPS Foundation Press Release 02/19/2004.