Predictors of turnover amongst volunteers: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Publication Name

Journal of Organizational Behavior


Volunteers represent a global workforce equivalent to 61 million full-time workers. A significant decline in volunteering has highlighted the urgency to better understand and address turnover amongst volunteers. To address this, we conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of turnover amongst volunteers. We also examined whether staying or leaving has different predictors. The meta-analysis integrated and synthesized 117 studies, encompassing 1104 effect sizes across 55 335 volunteer workers, to identify and quantify relationships between turnover and the broad range of variables that have been examined in the volunteer work domain. Amongst the strongest predictors of volunteer turnover were attitudinal variables, in particular, job satisfaction (ρ = −.58), affective commitment (ρ = −.58), engagement (ρ = −.54) and organizational commitment (ρ = −.54). Contextual variables that showed the largest effects included communication (ρ =.62), organizational support (ρ = −.61) and the quality of the relationship between volunteers and their leader (leader-member exchange, ρ = −.55). We synthesize our findings into an integrative framework delineating the predictors of volunteer turnover. In doing so, we extend turnover research to consider non-remunerated work contexts and provide a basis for developing turnover theory that is responsive to the unique experience of volunteers.

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