Transformational Leadership Effects on Improving Volunteers’ Retention and the Role of Self-Determination and Satisfaction

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Volunteer turnover compromises the functioning and sustainability of non-profits. Therefore, understanding the factors that influence volunteers’ commitment is critical. The current research entailed two studies examining volunteer retention at non-profits. The first study investigated psychological predictors of the intention to continue volunteering. 17 volunteers working with refugees participated in an online-study, measuring the intention to continue, volunteer satisfaction, the satisfaction of basic needs (autonomy, competence, relatedness), and transformational leadership (TL). Results show that TL predicts the satisfaction of the need for relatedness significantly. The other relationships were not confirmed. Further, the second study compared the four I’s of TL (idealised influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, individualised consideration) to a control to examine which characteristic led to higher intentions to continue. 105 participants filled out an online-study in which they were presented with five scenarios combining leadership styles and non-profit causes, which were Latin square balanced. In each scenario, the participants were asked to indicate their intentions to continue at a specific non-profit or a non-profit of their choice. Results indicate that the four TL conditions did not result in higher intentions to continue volunteering than the control. Nevertheless, the exploratory analyses indicate differences within the four I’s: individual consideration led to higher intentions than idealised influence and intellectual stimulation. In line with these results, individual consideration was the favourite leadership style among participants, as shown by the additional ranking question. Altogether, the two studies’ results suggest the importance of the social aspect in volunteering and successful retention strategies. Keywords: volunteer retention in non-profit organisations, volunteer commitment, volunteer satisfaction, self-determination theory, transformational leadership
Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen