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Promoting volunteer engagement in the heritage sector

Charlotte Smithson (24design, Manchester, UK)
Jennifer Rowley (Department of Languages, Information and Communications, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK)
Roger Fullwood (Business School, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK)

Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development

ISSN: 2044-1266

Article publication date: 18 May 2018

Issue publication date: 10 August 2018




The purpose of this paper is to offer insights into the processes associated with promoting volunteer engagement adopted by a large UK heritage attraction during a period of significant change. Engaged volunteers were regarded as essential to sustain, and where appropriate, to enhance the customer experience.


A case study approach was adopted. This involved review of relevant documentation and interviews and focus groups between researchers, managers and volunteers.


Working from the philosophical stance that information and involvement are strong predecessors to “buy-in”, the managers of the attraction used a series of initiatives that kept volunteers both informed and involved. These initiatives include a values-based induction programme, information and communication, training and development, and creating new narratives.


Volunteer engagement influences volunteer commitment to the organisation. This case study offers some insights into initiatives adopted in one heritage organisation to promote volunteer engagement, and thereby provides a basis for other organisations to reflect on their practices in this area.



Smithson, C., Rowley, J. and Fullwood, R. (2018), "Promoting volunteer engagement in the heritage sector", Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development, Vol. 8 No. 3, pp. 362-371.



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Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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