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Volunteer Management and Measurement Systems for Italian Voluntary Organisations

Mechanisms, Roles and Consequences of Governance: Emerging Issues

ISBN: 978-1-78350-705-4, eISBN: 978-1-78350-706-1

Publication date: 19 July 2014


Background and Purpose

There are different types of non-profit organisations (NPOs) characterised by the different extents of their volunteer management practices. In addition, the use of volunteer work measurement tools is infrequent among these organisations, especially in contexts where NPOs face no obligations or standard practices in this area, such as in Italy. The literature has stated that volunteer programmes and activities are effective if a NPO is highly structured and employs good volunteer management practices and that the measurement of volunteer work may increase the effectiveness of such programmes; this is frequent, for instance, in US NPOs. However, what would occur if a NPO introduces the measurement of volunteer work in a context where volunteer management is not highly structured, such as in Italy?


To study this topic, we adopt the quasi-experimental approach to examine six Italian voluntary organisations (VOs) based in Abruzzo. The treatment consists of the gradual introduction of volunteer work measurement tools to the managers and volunteers who work for the selected organisations, as well as the observation of the early impact of this treatment on the effectiveness of volunteer programmes and activities. This paper aims to discuss the issue of the implementation of measurement tools for effectively managing volunteer services in two different contexts: Italian and US NPOs.

Findings and Implication

Our findings have practical implications, especially with regard to the management of relatively unstructured volunteer organisations that would like to introduce new tools of measurement but do not have the necessary skills to do so. We also wish to show in this work how some organisations are implementing these tools and highlight the initial effects produced by this implementation process.


This study is innovative, particularly for contexts in which there are no obligations and customs with regard to the measurement of volunteer work.




We would like to express our very great appreciation to reviewers and discussants for the comments made during the Euram 2013, by their careful analysis and their constructive recommendations have greatly enhanced the value of our manuscript.

We would also like to thank the following Italian voluntary organizations for enabling us to study their volunteer programmes: PEGASO, CSIAPA, EMOZIONI, CIVES, LEGAMBIENTE and VOLONTARIATO VINCENZIANO.

Finally, we wish to thank the CSVCH (Centro di Servizio per il Volontariato of Chieti) for his support in our study of volunteer work measurement in Italy and the CCSS (Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies) for his support in the previous cited study on the US charities.


Berardi, L. and Rea, M.A. (2014), "Volunteer Management and Measurement Systems for Italian Voluntary Organisations", Mechanisms, Roles and Consequences of Governance: Emerging Issues (Studies in Public and Non-Profit Governance, Vol. 2), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 205-236.



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