Persistence in Volunteering: An Affect Theory Approach to Faith-Based Volunteering

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    This paper responds to the question of how volunteers persist in volunteering. The geographies of voluntarism have explored patterns and motivations for volunteering, but a gap remains to understand how people persist in volunteering. This gap is crucial to address if voluntary sector projects are to be sustainable by retaining volunteers. This paper questions how volunteers persist in volunteering in a faith-based context through volunteers’ narratives from a church food poverty project ‘Lunch’. It contributes to two key agendas in the geographies of religion – faith as performed in people’s daily lives and faith-based organisations – because volunteering was a way for Lunch volunteers to act out their faith. To understand Lunch volunteers’ persistence, this paper utilises affect theory to draw out from their faith-based narratives how volunteers are affected by their experiences; how volunteering could mean more to volunteers than what was represented; and how fleeting moments could be as significant as ongoing experiences. Overall, bringing the geographies of religion and voluntarism together, this paper argues that persistence in volunteering is a continual process of motivation, action and reflection in which factors from the past, present and anticipated future feed into volunteers’ motivations to persist in volunteering or not.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)807-827
    Number of pages21
    JournalSocial and Cultural Geography
    Issue number6
    Early online date19 Jun 2019
    Publication statusPublished - 2021

    Bibliographical note

    This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Social and Cultural Geography on 19/06/2019, available online:

    Copyright © and Moral Rights are retained by the author(s) and/ or other copyright owners. A copy can be downloaded for personal non-commercial research or study, without prior permission or charge. This item cannot be reproduced or quoted extensively from without first obtaining permission in writing from the copyright holder(s). The content must not be changed in any way or sold commercially in any format or medium without the formal permission of the copyright holders.


    Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, grant code GEOG SC3315


    • affect theory
    • faith
    • food poverty
    • geographies of religion
    • geographies of voluntarism
    • Volunteering

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Cultural Studies
    • Geography, Planning and Development


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