Increasing Volunteer Retention at Global Brigades: Volunteer as Apprentice
This Capstone seeks to address the increasing problem of volunteer retention in Global Brigades. Global Brigades partners with communities in six developing nations around the world to promote local community empowerment. The organization funds its efforts by enlisting college student volunteers to fundraise for the organization as part of joining a week-long service trip to Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua or Panama. Over the course of its sixteen-year history, the number of volunteers funding the organization has ebbed and flowed. Over the last five years, the ability to continue to fund local empowerment efforts has dwindled with the rising attrition of volunteers. This paper aims to provide evidence-based recommendations to increase volunteer retention. This study explores the problem of practice via the motivation theory of Hackman & Oldham’s Job Characteristics Model (1975) as applied by Millette and Gagné (2005) via both survey and interview. The results of these survey revealed satisfaction, motivation, autonomy, intentions to quit, skill variety, and tenure greatly influence volunteer retention. These results were used to interpret interviews of Global Brigade management. Interview scripts were based on those designed by both Millette and Gagné (2005) and Orlovic (2014). Combined analysis concluded that Global Brigades volunteers lack substantial training and discounts to fully engage in the organization long-term and (2) that this asymmetry leads to turnover. This study highly favors reimagining the role of volunteer to that of apprentice as a mechanism to build a volunteer culture which prioritizes longevity of service as a route to continue funding the organization’s community development efforts.