Recognizing that turnover in an agency's volunteer population is especially costly in the case of highly trained volunteers, we analyzed data from a nationwide survey of crisis and suicide intervention volunteers to identify variables contributing to volunteers' attachment to their crisis center. We measured attachment both as level of commitment during the volunteer's association with the center and the length their association at the time of the survey. Although little of the variation in commitment levels could be explained, statistically significant variables included two variables under management discretion, whether agencies urged volunteers not to disclose their.relationship to the center, and the proportion of the center's volunteer workforce comprised of students. In the regression explaining the length of volunteers' association with the center, agencies that provided opportunities for face-to~face counseling experience, reflecting diversity of tasks and the possibility of advancement, were seen to retain their volunteers longer. Other significant variables readily available to the agency when screening volunteer applicants include student status, age among the nonstudent population, and whether the volunteer was pursuing a career to which crisis skills were related.
Brown, E. and Zahrly, J.(1990). Commitment and tenure of highly skilled volunteers: management issues in a nonprofit agency. Working paper (University of San Francisco. Institute for Nonprofit Organization Management); no. 12. San Francisco, CA: Institute for Nonprofit Organization Management, College of Professional Studies, University of San Francisco.