Volunteer Management for Environmental Organizations during COVID-19


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MA in Environmental Studies

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Society’s obsession with economic growth has caused the continued overconsumption of natural resources. The environmental movement has been focused on sustainable development, ensuring the needs of humans can be met without diminishing the needs of natural systems. Achieving this balance requires an in depth and comprehensive analysis of environmental problems on multiple levels. Environmental nonprofit organizations continue to play an important role in integrating environmental, economic, and social concerns within the framework of sustainable development. Although environmental nonprofit organizations have been proven to successfully address environmental issues, they still face many challenges. Funding is one of the greatest challenges environmental nonprofits face today. An IRS report from 2005 revealed 70% of environmental nonprofit organizations made less than $25,000 in revenue. A lack in revenue can prevent organizations from having the staff necessary to carry out the mission. Numerous environmental nonprofit organizations depend heavily or solely on volunteers as a source of funding and a resource to reach positive environmental outcomes. Throughout my research I came across very few studies dedicated to understanding environmental volunteering. An improved understanding of what motivates volunteers will allow organizations to better support volunteers in their roles in delivering environmental outcomes. We are currently living through a pandemic that has altered the way all businesses function. To prevent the spread of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), local governments around the nation have enacted stay at home orders for residents. Stay at home directives encourage people to leave home as needed and only continue the operation of essential businesses to protect the health and wellbeing of citizens. To protect volunteers and employees, organizations have explored teleworking, staggered work shifts, and temporarily closing. My capstone project investigated the impact of COVID-19 on environmental volunteerism and how organizations can best mange volunteer communities during the pandemic.