Researchers to study recruitment and retainment of volunteers

VELUX FONDEN has granted DKK 2m to a research study aimed at creating knowledge about how voluntary social organisations best recruit and retain volunteers. Researchers from the Department of Sociology and Social Work at Aalborg University will conduct the study.

Social initiatives in Denmark 

VELUX FONDEN’s grant area for social initiatives in Denmark focuses on strengthening social work through method development aimed at improving conditions for socially vulnerable people.  

“In our dialogue with voluntary social organisations in Denmark, we’ve become aware that many of them face challenges in recruiting and retaining their volunteers. Volunteers are crucial to the organisations’ work to improve conditions for socially vulnerable people. To support these organisations’ initiatives, we’ve launched a study aimed at collecting and systematising experiences with recruiting and retaining volunteers in social initiatives. We hope that the organisations can use the knowledge acquired under the study in their volunteering work,” says Vibeke Lybecker, Head of Programme for VELUX FONDEN’s grant area for social initiatives in Denmark.

The findings of the research study will be disseminated, in collaboration with the Danish Institute for Voluntary Effort, in, for example, a report that highlights promotional and inhibiting factors for recruitment and retention. A number of tips and recommendations will also be provided.

Expectations and volunteering culture

The purpose of the research study is to provide insight into different ways of supporting and promoting recruitment and retention and to describe the importance of different political and economic framework conditions for the work.

“We’re very engaged in understanding how the organisations can support the creation of a good match between the volunteers’ wishes and resources and the organisations’ tasks and needs. Therefore, our study will include an examination of the volunteers’ assessment of whether the organisations meet the individual volunteers’ expectations for the opportunities to, for example, learn something through their voluntary commitment, to develop personally or to become part of social communities,” explains Professor Lars Skov Henriksen from Aalborg University, who is the study coordinator.

The research group consists of Professor Lars Skov Henriksen, Associate Professor Morten Frederiksen, Assistant Professor Hans-Peter Y. Qvist and Postdoc Ane Grubb. The study is being conducted in collaboration with the Danish Institute for Voluntary Effort.

During the two-year project period, the researchers will examine:

  • Whether different organisational environments attract different types of volunteers and whether this is of importance to motivation and retention.
  • How the balance and relationship between staff and volunteers affect recruitment and retention.
  • Whether retaining volunteers is inherently more difficult for some types of tasks or whether this depends on the right match or on the organisation’s support for volunteers.
  • Where and how the volunteer’s efforts are part of his or her life story and biography, and how the volunteer’s commitment has evolved during his or her life.
  • The importance of organisational culture and culture among volunteers in relation to recruitment and retention.

The project includes both a quantitative study of organisations and volunteers and an in-depth qualitative study of selected organisations and their volunteers.


Vibeke Lybecker
Senior Adviser, Head of programme, VELUX FONDEN
+45 23 80 69 80
Anna Høxbro Bak
Communications Adviser, THE VELUX FOUNDATIONS
+45 22 64 03 55