Management for Program Sustainability Amidst Rapid Volunteer Turnover
Burke, Patrick Breen
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Program sustainability is a major issue for nongovernmental organizations. Sustainability depends on the ability of an organization to maintain its capacity, which can be severely hindered by high rates of personnel turnover. This is especially true for turnover in nonprofit organizations that offer volunteer-led programs and are consequently heavily reliant upon those individuals to carry out their missions. Creating a strong institutional memory for both tacit and explicit knowledge and properly managing volunteers are two critical elements in creating the capacity needed to maintain a high-quality program. This thesis analyzes the case of a youth center in Macedonia that is dependent upon its volunteers to function and is afflicted by sustainability and discontinuity issues in its programs due to a regular rapid turnover of its volunteers. The center promotes youth development through informal education of its participants, primarily high school youth. Interviews, participant observation and document analysis provided insight into the program sustainability issues present at the youth center. I present a series of scenarios that highlight the issues of volunteer management and institutional memory loss concerning volunteer turnover that I discovered in my analysis. I conclude by calling for better preservation of institutional memory, more targeted recruitment and training that emphasizes creating routines and establishing volunteer expectations to enable improved program sustainability.
- Masters Theses