Called to volunteer and stay longer: The significance of work calling for volunteering motivation and retention

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This article reviews the literature on non-profit volunteering to argue that the concept of 'work calling' is critical to broadening the understanding of volunteer motivation and retention. As an emerging concept, work calling is generally used to explain how individuals satisfy their calling by doing meaningful work. This concept is introduced to the issue of volunteer motivation and retention to detail why volunteers decide to join non-profit organisations and then willingly stay longer. Current theories explain volunteer motivation and retention by focusing on individual (commitment and job satisfaction) and organisational factors (management practices, volunteer tasks, and organisational reputation). This article integrates work calling in these theories and thus contributes two important insights: (1) volunteers may choose to engage in meaningful work and, therefore, experience self-satisfaction and meaningful life by volunteering; and (2) work calling improves current theories of volunteering motivation and retention at both the individual and organisational levels.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-255
Number of pages21
JournalVoluntary Sector Review
Issue number2
Early online date7 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This article is part of a PhD study at the School of Business and Economics, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam,funded by the MORA scholarship from the Ministry of Religious Affairs of the Government of Indonesia.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Policy Press. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • volunteering motivation
  • retention
  • work calling
  • meaningful work
  • non-profit organisation


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