Volunteer management: An exploratory case study within the British Red Cross

Loise Waikayi, Colm Fearon, Lynn Morris, Heather Mclaughlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Increasingly, post credit crunch, organisations are seeking to develop new ways of attracting, recruiting and retaining staff in the UK high street for less or even no financial reward. The aim of this paper is to investigate volunteerism and volunteer management, based on an exploratory case study of two British Red Cross (BRC) shops. It also aims to examine the reasons why people volunteer and why they keep doing so in the context of BRC, as a charitable organisation. An exploratory case was used to gain an insight into how BRC recruit and retain volunteer staff. This was achieved by interviewing volunteers and the shop management personnel. An overview of BRC structures, strategic direction and views on volunteerism is also developed as part of the case study. Exploratory findings from the research show that people decide to volunteer mainly for a variety of reasons such as social interaction, to carry out work that is valued in the local community and for self-satisfaction. Volunteer satisfaction is derived from helping BRC to help others and also being part of The Red Cross. Volunteer retention is attributed to a proactive management style in terms of creating a favourable work environment. The shop manager's leadership skills are crucial in establishing a friendly and positive attitude towards volunteers. In addition, youth volunteers are attracted in order to gain work experience and learn new skills. The study is exploratory, based on preliminary interview findings from 17 informants in two BRC shops. However, the insight gained helps in understanding the reasons why volunteerism is successful within the BRC. The paper can help policy makers reflect and decide on useful tactics and strategy for developing and improving volunteer management within the retail sector. There is a paucity of literature in relation to retailing and volunteerism and this study contributes to the literature by identifying reasons why this charity has been so successful in attracting and retaining volunteers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-367
Number of pages19
JournalManagement Decision
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Charities
  • Recruitment
  • United Kingdom
  • Volunteer management
  • Volunteer recruitment
  • Volunteer retention
  • Volunteerism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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