Modelling the volunteer experience: findings from the heritage sector

Document type
Smith, Karen A.
Date of publication
1 April 2002
Voluntary Action: the journal of the Institute for Volunteering Research. Vol. 4; Number 2
Social welfare
Material type

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An individual’s evaluation of their 'volunteer experience' is influenced by a range of factors, including the people they work with (other volunteers, managers, paid employees, visitors), the organisation and community in which they volunteer, and the work they carry out. Drawing on empirical qualitative research with managers and volunteers in a sample of museums and heritage sites in the UK, a conceptual model of the interrelationships between the elements influencing the volunteer experience is presented and critiqued. Managers play a central role in the direct management of volunteers; however, they can also act as a interface between the other elements – which is particularly important, as these relationships influence both the volunteer’s and the organisation’s assessment of volunteering. The interrelationship model can act as an agenda and framework for future research.

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