For everlasting social services: Volunteer retention in faith-based organizations

A.F. Faletehan

Research output: Contribution to ConferencePaperAcademic


Given faith-based organizations’ (FBOs) reliance on volunteers, the high turnover of volunteers within FBOs is one of the problems that managers have to deal with. Current theories explain employee turnover by using theories of organizational commitment and job satisfaction which argue that volunteers would stay if they have higher personal commitment and feel satisfied with the unpaid job. However, the prevailing theories seem insufficiently capable to explain volunteer retention in FBOs. In this article, we review literature on FBOs and volunteer retention and we subsequently argue that we need to include “work calling” to understand volunteer retention, emphasizing how individuals may pursue their life purpose and spiritual achievement from their activities. Volunteers are likely to stay at FBOs when they have the feeling that they are contributing to larger goals pursued through these FBOs. In sum, this study contributes to the literature by linking work calling and volunteer retention in FBOs, resulting in a number of insights. First, volunteers in FBOs tend to be driven by religious teaching, personal goodwill, an inclination to assist the needy, and a call to serve god. Second, volunteers choose to work and stay in FBOs because they are engaged in meaningful work and, therefore, experience self-satisfaction and a meaningful life. Third, calling can be incorporated within various factors at individual level (e.g. commitment, satisfaction, and motivation) and organizational level (e.g. management practices, task-related, and organizational type) to conceptualize volunteer retention in FBOs.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages29
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventThe 13th International conference of the International Society for Third Sector Research (ISTR) - VU Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Duration: 10 Jul 201813 Jul 2018


ConferenceThe 13th International conference of the International Society for Third Sector Research (ISTR)
Internet address

Bibliographical note

E3 Paper Sessions


  • Volunteer
  • Retention
  • Calling
  • Meaningful work
  • Faith-based organizations


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