Date of Conferral
Public Policy and Administration
Many nonprofits seek a volunteer base that includes the experience and maturity of the Silent and Baby Boomer Generations as well as the creativity and advanced technological knowledge of Generations X, Y, and Z. Published literature recommends implementing multigenerational volunteer programs to increase the representation of multiple generations. However, there is no literature providing guidance to create volunteer management practices that simultaneously recruit and retain those generations. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the lived experiences of 5 generations of volunteers. The research questions for this phenomenological study addressed perspectives that may contribute to developing generation-based volunteer management practices. The theoretical framework included Mannheim's theory of generations and generational cohort theory, and Strauss-Howe generational theory, which suggest that an individual's generational classification influences his or her experiences of recruitment and retention. Individual interviews were conducted with 20 participants from 5 generations who currently volunteer or have recently volunteered in a nonprofit. Data were coded and categorized for thematic analysis using Moustakas' method. Findings indicated that many of the generational cohorts shared similar experiences in how they prefer to be recruited and retained. However, each cohort expressed a distinct need for generation-specific volunteer management practices. The implications for social change include informing volunteer resource managers of the importance of developing generation-based volunteer management practices, in order to recruit and retain multiple generations of volunteers.