Graduate School of Business


Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)


Felicia Oyewale Olagbemi


Faith, Leaders, Nonprofit Organizations, Volunteers


Business | Leadership Studies


The term “volunteer” has been formally acknowledged for more than 200 years (Dreyfus, 2018; Haski-Leventhal et al., 2018). It is synonymous with one who freely offers to participate in a task that benefits others. During the modern era, these tasks have included, but have not been limited to, establishing communal programs, presenting technical assistance, conducting conferences, fundraising, and supporting identified causes or groups (Alfes et al., 2017). In most instances, the tasks are rendered through nonprofit organizations. Therefore, volunteers represent invaluable assets as they are economic resources who contribute to accomplishing stated organizational goals (Tonurist & Surva, 2017). While more than 30% of the United States population was shown to have volunteered in 2018, this was, unfortunately, an aberration, as the previous 15 years had exhibited predominantly declining volunteer rates (Grimm & Dietz, 2018). The ability of nonprofit organizations to recruit and retain volunteers is critical to their respective missions and operations. Therefore, this qualitative research employed a multiple case study approach to examine whether there is a correlation between the leaders of these organizations and general retention data. Each of the three studies consisted of five participants who, through responses to questionnaires and interviews, shared firsthand experiences in relation to their volunteerism in nonprofit organizations. In addition to their direct experiences, they were asked to indicate if and how personal faith may have shaped their involvement in the organization(s). Findings derived from the participant responses indicate that leaders are one of the meaningful elements tied to the recruitment and retention of volunteers in nonprofit organizations. This effectuality of leaders is most vivid through their personality, their ability to embolden others, the type of relationship maintained with volunteers, and the various tactics utilized. Additionally, while individual volunteers may be devout regarding their personal spirituality, they are frequently unable to differentiate between the operations of organizations that are and are not predicated on faith. Hence, faith has limited influence on their viewpoint of the leader or the organization they’ve selected to provide service.