Meggan Franks 2019 Meggan Franks

Meggan Franks is a DBA Candidate. She currently serves as the Organizational Development Specialist for the LSU AgCenter. She has spent 13 years engaging diverse populations of volunteers in community service projects and training employees to develop successful volunteer programs. Her research interests include volunteer engagement, retention, inclusive leadership, psychological safety, and empowerment.

 Title:  A Model for Volunteer Engagement: Examining the Relationship Between Inclusive Leadership-Safety & Empowerment


Volunteers play a significant role in solving community, national, and global problems and are essential to the social organization’s operating structure. They help non-profits and charities meet their social missions by increasing program effectiveness and reducing overhead costs. While 81% of non-profits utilize volunteers as part of their mission, many have trouble keeping volunteers engaged, and only one-third of volunteers are retained each year.

While a more engaged volunteer population has been found to provide many positive outcomes for social organizations, including increased involvement and retention, volunteer engagement is still a misunderstood and underdeveloped concept. Additionally, modern volunteer management techniques do not recognize the differences between volunteers and paid staff, creating barriers to engagement.

This quantitative study will utilize structural equation modeling to identify the contributors to and outcomes of volunteer engagement. Specifically, this research will examine the relationship between engagement, inclusive leadership, and psychologically safe volunteer environments, variables of which positive relationships have already been identified in employee engagement studies. Moreover, psychological empowerment, which has served as a predictor of engagement, will be assessed as a potential mediator. The outcomes of engagement that will be studied include retention, involvement, and giving behavior.

This research, which is still in progress, may provide volunteer managers with a greater understanding of the factors that create a more engaged volunteer workforce and the outcomes or benefits of increased volunteer engagement for the organization. As a result, social organizations may experience increased volunteer engagement, enabling them to better meet their social missions.

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