Improving Volunteerism through a Narrative Inquiry of the Black Volunteer Perspective

Date of Award


Degree Name

Ed.D. in Leadership for Organizations


Department of Educational Administration


Advisor: Kevin Kelly


Attracting and retaining volunteers is essential to the success of any non-profit organization, including the church, and is critical to broadening our understanding of volunteer behaviors across all racial groups. Most volunteer activities are affiliated with faith-based organizations (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015). Blacks account for 9.11% of all volunteers, with 41.2% focusing those efforts on religious organizations (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015; Congressional Digest, 2006). Understanding the behaviors and motivations of different volunteer segments becomes even more important when endeavoring to meet the diverse needs of our communities. Though nearly 63 million Americans volunteer yearly, this number is declining, impeding nonprofit organization's ability to service those in need (Do Good Institute, 2018). The primary purpose of this narrative inquiry was to learn more about the factors driving change in volunteer behaviors to increase outcomes. The perspective of an underrepresented population informed the narrative regarding volunteer behaviors and motivations. The data collection method used was a focused inquiry through semi-structured interviews of a purposive sampling. To analyze the data, a thematic review was completed, identifying recurring themes and patterns. The thirteen interviews provided insight into volunteer behaviors from the perspective of the Black church volunteer. Two emerging themes aligned with the literature review: prosocial motivation and recognition/appreciation. Other emergent themes were dissatisfaction with unclear objectives, lack of provisions and communications, and community outreach and engagement. Several questions were explored, including why people volunteer and cease volunteering, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on volunteer engagement, specific barriers to volunteering, and how church culture influences volunteer behavior.


Nonprofit Organizations (NPO), Volunteer, Volunteerism, Underrepresented Populations, Underrepresented Groups, Faith-based, Church, Black Church, Religious, Religion, Black Volunteers

Rights Statement

Copyright © 2023, author.