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The revolving door: A closer look at major factors in volunteers’ intention to quit

Joseph A. Allen, University of Nebraska at Omaha
Stephanie L. Meuller, University of Nebraska at Omaha


In nonprofit organizations, volunteer coordinators deal with high rates of volunteer turnover due, in part, to increased levels of volunteer burnout. This study sought to identify how burnout can help explain volunteers’ intention to quit and identify two potential antecedents of burnout: voice and role ambiguity. Specifically, it is hypothesized that volunteer voice and role ambiguity affects volunteers’ intention to quit through their relationship with volunteer burnout. Data were obtained from volunteers working in an animal welfare organization in the western United States (N = 151). An online survey was administered to volunteers who responded to a variety of questions and scales concerning their experiences as volunteers in an animal welfare organization. Structural equation modeling was used to test the mediation hypotheses. The findings provide tentative support that volunteer burnout mediates the relationship between two potential predictors of burnout (e.g., perception of voice and role ambiguity) and intention to quit. Consistent with conservation of resources theory, volunteers who are drained of their cognitive resources through dealing with a lack of voice and ambiguous volunteer role situations experience increased burnout. The practical and theoretical significance of these findings are discussed.

Suggested Citation

Joseph A. Allen and Stephanie L. Meuller. "The revolving door: A closer look at major factors in volunteers’ intention to quit" Journal of Community Psychology 41.2 (2013): 139-155.
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