Participant Departure Rates in Nonprofit Organizations

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It is well recognized that nonprofit organizations experience significant rates of participant departure. The first article by Ihm and Baek (2021) attempts to clarify the causation of such member flow by exploring the relationship between value congruence and length of stay. This industry sector is dependent on competent and committed volunteers. The effect of their departure would result in a significant change in productivity, quality, consistency, and stability. A significant amount of research was done on the individual and organizational factors which affect this trend. However, Ihm and Baek (2021) argue that it is necessary to research factors beyond those introduced on individual and organizational levels. In the context of their research, Ihm and Baek (2021) focused on the voluntary organization in Seoul, which provides shared housing to participants employed in community-centered and nonprofit organizations. Their research is based on the textual networks of words that can be found within self-introductions of the organization and participants to avoid possible biases associated with the survey method (Ihm & Baek, 2021). Consequently, the researchers evaluate the value congruence reflected within the introduction to determine its effect on the members’ length of stay.

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The article offers a new approach to nonprofit management by analyzing personal and situational factors that influence value compatibility in voluntary organizations. It was identified that participants that demonstrated firmer belief in organizational values had the shortest length of stay, which falls in line with expectation-disconfirmation theory (Ihm & Baek, 2021). Hence, it is argued that voluntary organizations should provide more concrete and realistic mission statements to avoid the early departure of motivated participants (Ihm & Baek, 2021). Furthermore, the amount of communication was moderated by the between-participants value congruence and member retainment (Ihm & Baek, 2021). Finally, the researchers argue that creating a more nuanced approach to participants’ retainment is necessary.

Although, the study of Ihm and Baek (2021) demonstrates several critical limitations. It was focused on a single organization which points to the limited data scope. It restricts the practicality of the findings as the organization cannot be defined as a typical nonprofit organization. The reason for that is participants’ connection to the organization through provided accommodation. Other factors such as economical and practical reasons which might influence participant departure were not introduced in the research. Since the possibility of participants’ intentional alignment with organizational values was not examined, the real validity of the data could be questioned. Nevertheless, the research does provide a valuable and novel approach to nonprofit management through evaluation of value compatibility and contributes to the comprehension of its importance. The article is an interesting consideration towards member retainment in any organization. It may be a new important indicator for human resource management within social and community-centered organizations. The importance of value alignment of congruence as specified in the text is stressed at the beginning of the work practice and difficult to identify during the actual work practice.

The second article focuses on volunteer management, leadership decisions, and structures within nonprofit organizations. It could be viewed as a piece of essential advice for the board of directors. Board of directors or shortly boards focus on the establishment of clear goals and purpose for the organization, approval of projects, and establishment of standards for practices and performance evaluation (Worth, 2014). Boards within nonprofits face difficulties in organizational transformation as the need to optimize volunteer capacity emerges. This transformation is considered to be a transition from amateur ideology with seamless hierarchical power into a more professional entity (De Clerck, Aelterman, Haerens, & Willem, 2021). Although this process is not new within the field, the literature body available does not specify a comprehensive empirical analysis of management processes and leadership styles that could be adopted. Therefore, De Clerck et al. (2021) research the extent to which management processes and leadership approaches affect the volunteers’ capacity within nonprofits. The authors utilized questionnaires to assess the volunteers’ and managers’ capacity within thirty-eight voluntary and nonprofit sports clubs of varying sizes in Flanders, Belgium (De Clerck et al., 2021). In addition, to limit the possible effect of bias anonymity, question order randomization and reduction of evaluation apprehension were introduced (De Clerck et al., 2021). The results were analyzed by using two essential theoretical frameworks, namely the Competing Values Framework and Self-Determination Theory.

CVF models such as the human relations model, internal process model, rational goal model, and open system model were essential elements of the study. De Clerck et al. (2021) suggested perceiving them as part of the single construct. Consequently, the findings suggest that the implementation of CVF models to manage and increase the volunteers’ capacity effectively is essential. Moreover, De Clerck et al. (2021) argue that combining the CVF models with autonomy-supportive and a structuring leadership style is possible to enhance their efficiency. Despite the researchers’ claim that the results are relevant for all-volunteer organizations, the specificity of the sports clubs’ goals and values are undeniable and may be presented as a limitation of the study. Furthermore, the questionnaire survey method of data collection has limitations in the form of bias. This fact could manifest itself in the increase of the error margins despite the precautions employed by researchers.

The practical implications of the research mainly focus on the implementation of various tools from CVF modes. They include the establishment of the internal and external communication plant, monitoring of the progress of the projects, and annual assessment of internal processes. Moreover, the leaders may focus on the utilization of structuring leadership styles by providing meeting agendas with clear goals, or board members and volunteers may jointly evaluate the goals for further projects.

From my perspective, the study incorporates relevant and effective theoretical frameworks which provide a solid foundation for further research. The importance of leadership for fast-growing NPOs is undeniable, and in the face of the globalized and connected world, the topic of management transformation is more relevant than ever. This article is a fascinating revelation and a valuable contribution to the management theory for NPOs. Nevertheless, the topic of digitalization of NPOs’ work and articulation of leadership styles in the world affected by the COVID-19 pandemic would be a perspective continuation of the research.

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The second article is more comprehensive and incorporates a greater research body compared to the first article. Consequently, it is also more practical for implementation and further research. Both articles have considerable limitations, but the methodology employed by the first is innovative and needs more research to distinguish its reliability. Although the questionnaire method is also flawed, they are considered more reliable, and successful strategies to shrink the possible error margin were used.

In summary, the second article could be used to provide additional recommendations in relation to the management of NPOs. It focuses on the importance of leadership styles and structural changes to boost the efficiency of the organization. It could also be an additional factor in consideration of the members’ length of stay within the NPO. The two articles could be reviewed in combination to provide an extensive review of management models and the goals of nonprofits.


De Clerck, T., Aelterman, N., Haerens, L., & Willem, A. (2021). Enhancing volunteers’ capacity in all‐volunteer nonprofit organizations: The role of volunteer leaders’ reliance on effective management processes and (de) motivating leadership. Nonprofit Management and Leadership, 31(3), 481-503. Web.

Ihm, J., & Baek, Y. M. (2021). Why do participants in voluntary organizations leave? Exploring the relationship between value congruence and length of stay. Nonprofit Management and Leadership, 31(3), 505-524. Web.

Worth, M.J. (2014). Nonprofit management: Principles and practice (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sag.

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BusinessEssay. "Participant Departure Rates in Nonprofit Organizations." September 12, 2022.