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National Trust Project

We have been engaged in a funded research project with the National Trust which aims to provide:

(1)    a detailed, evidenced-based understanding of what it means to manage a volunteer in the National Trust

(2)    identify the nature of similarities or differences between the management of volunteers and paid staff and

(3)    consider the implications of these similarities or differences for policy, resourcing and strategic planning around volunteer management within the National Trust.

The research involved two in-depth qualitative case studies carried out at two National Trust properties between 2013 and

Headline findings are that:

 In practice, the management of volunteers within the National Trust is, and should be, significantly different to the management of paid staff. These differences can be classified around five broad, yet interconnected, themes:

Performance Management,


Task Differentiation,

Trust and Fear V Autonomy and Creativity 

Emotional Labour.

Our findings challenge the prevailing trajectory within the third-sector, namely the operationalisation of the management of volunteers as paid staff. The attendant costs and benefits of managing volunteers are significantly different to those associated with the management of paid staff. Indeed, our findings suggest that rather than the volunteer management practice being rooted in HR and other managerial rhetoric there is cause to suggest that this relationship be inverted. Indeed, we need to ask what can HR learn from effective volunteer management?

To see a copy of the findings report please click here.

To see a copy of a visual representation of the findings please click here.

To see a short film summarising our main findings around the importance of emotional labour please click here

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