The research program has three main goals:
- To provide useful information to government and nonprofit volunteer organizations for improving policy and supporting volunteer-based programs.
- To identify Nevada’s volunteerism potential in order to help maximize volunteers as an underutilized human resource, especially in the context of the recent economic downturn.
- To contribute to the academic research about volunteerism and civic engagement and to foster public education by collecting and analyzing data and reporting results.
To ensure that the research program is informed by local stakeholders and yields insightful results for the community, throughout 2014 we gathered input about organizational challenges and opportunities for expanding volunteerism in Nevada from a variety of entities including:
- Moonridge Philanthropy Group
- Nevada Volunteers—The Governor’s Commission on Service
- Southern Nevada’s Nonprofit CEO group led by Las Vegas’ Mayor Goodman
- The Red Cross of Southern Nevada
- United Way of Southern Nevada
- Volunteers in Medicine of Southern Nevada
Beginning in 2014, we launched three progressive surveys of different groups invested in volunteerism in Nevada. First, in October 2014, we surveyed CEOs of Las Vegas nonprofit organizations about the challenges they face in recruitment and retention of volunteers. Second, building on the insights from the CEOs, we surveyed Volunteer Coordinators of Nevada nonprofit organizations to learn the main challenges they face in recruitment, management, and retention of volunteers.
The third step was to survey volunteers themselves. The 2015 Individual Volunteer Survey was modeled on the instrument used by the Stanford Center on Longevity’s Study of Cognitive Benefits of Volunteering—Santa Clara County Project. The Stanford project surveyed current and former (retired) Santa Clara County employees to identify barriers and incentives for volunteer engagement and current volunteer participation. The survey includes questions about respondents’ demographic characteristics; their formal volunteer activities, informal volunteer activities, motivations for volunteering; and their barriers to volunteering.