- Press Release Distribution

The new paradigm in volunteering -- and how organizations can adapt to "neither-growing-nor-fading" brand relationships

News from the Journal of Marketing

( Researchers from Emlyon Business School and HEC Montreal published a new Journal of Marketing study that examines the new breed of volunteers who often show a weaker sense of affiliation with organizations and how best to engage them for mutual benefit.

The study, forthcoming in the Journal of Marketing, is titled “Managing Brand Relationship Plurality: Insights from the Nonprofit Sector” and is authored by Verena Gruber and Jonathan Deschênes.

Volunteers stand as vital pillars in the operation and survival of nonprofit organizations. Across the globe, over 850 million volunteers give their time to support a variety of causes, according to a 2021 report by United Nations Volunteers.

Traditionally, volunteers were thought to be motivated by the altruistic act of giving, and many chose nonprofits based on a strong sociocultural fit and personal convictions. However, volunteers now interact differently with brands in the nonprofit sector. Individuals devote fewer hours to their causes and want flexible schedules. They seek opportunities for personal growth and pick activities with potential work-related benefits. These new volunteers often show a weaker sense of affiliation with organizations.

This raises an important question: How can organizations effectively cultivate relationships with volunteers whose interests and motivations are shifting?

A new Journal of Marketing study finds that entertaining more distant relationships can mutually benefit nonprofit organizations and volunteers. Drawing on an in-depth analysis of the Red Cross in Vienna, Austria, this research demonstrates that organizations can effectively manage both traditional and new types of volunteers by adopting tailored relationship management practices.

Relationship Growth for Traditional Volunteers Nonprofit brands continue to need the vision, commitment, and initiative of traditional, growth-oriented volunteers who provide the backbone of organizational activities. To allow these relationships to thrive, managers should focus on a solid material presence.

Nonprofits should establish a physical infrastructure so that volunteers can gather, socialize, and bond. Managers should provide training and competence-building activities to assist the intensification of the brand relationship. They should supply branded clothing to facilitate easy visual identification of members and communicate with members by leveraging high-quality content such as exclusive print magazines.

In addition, managers need to carefully create documentation that clearly presents the brand’s history and values as well as provide a comprehensive and clear description of what volunteering entails in terms of expectations and duties. Communicating a compelling narrative consistently throughout the volunteer’s journey is crucial to sustain the path of growth and intensification.

These brand relationship practices will enable volunteers to ascend, over time, to strategic roles within the organization, including mentoring and training of future generations of volunteers. These growth-oriented volunteers, when supported with the right managerial practices, progressively become practice champions and thus constitute valuable assets for the organization.

Activating New Volunteers New volunteers seek flexibility and opportunity; they help out when they have time and when the task fits their agenda. Adopting a pragmatic approach to the relationship is crucial for nonprofit organizations. “This involves accepting a certain degree of distance to and from these volunteers, who may be less emotionally attached to the organization, and respecting their desire for intermittent engagement. What matters is not their unwavering loyalty but their existing skills,” Gruber explains.

Consequently, the managerial focus needs to shift to acquiring and activating volunteers as needed. Organizations should initially build a diverse pool of volunteers whom they can subsequently activate as needed. The key lies in utilizing systems to identify potential volunteers and communicate with those possessing desired characteristics for specific tasks. The integration of a mobile application could greatly facilitate this process.

Such practices will allow nonprofit organizations to deploy the right volunteers, in the right quantity, at the right time.

Lessons for Managers Deschênes says that “our research offers insights for nonprofit managers grappling with the management of volunteer relationships. We show the value that lies in distant, non-escalating relationships when managed in symbiosis with classic growth-oriented relationships. Our results point to broader implications for brand relationship management, applicable to both nonprofit and for-profit entities.”

Traditional volunteering mirrors consumer–brand relationships in which individuals develop strong ties with brands and often integrate in brand communities. This type of relationship permeates marketing and consumer studies. The new volunteers resemble consumers who maintain a more distant and seemingly disinterested relationship with brands that they consume sporadically but regularly, without a desire to intensify the relationship. The researchers call this a “Neither Growing nor Fading” (NGNF) relationship. NGNF relationships arguably represent a significant proportion of the interactions that consumers typically have with brands, yet there is little research to date that has focused on them.

Here are some strategies for managers to acquire and activate NGNF members:

Actively embrace the new volunteering logic and accept that volunteers become dormant between activations. Develop partnerships with broadcasters to reach large audiences and communicate the organization’s volunteering story and needs via social media to generate traffic on the organization’s platforms. Know volunteer needs by identifying volunteer profiles for each specific volunteer job. Identify key skillset information to include in the registration form, such as education and training. Develop some material element to identify volunteers during their activation (light jackets, baseball caps, etc.). These materials could be lent to volunteers for the duration of their activation. Full article and author contact information available at:

About the Journal of Marketing 

The Journal of Marketing develops and disseminates knowledge about real-world marketing questions useful to scholars, educators, managers, policy makers, consumers, and other societal stakeholders around the world. Published by the American Marketing Association since its founding in 1936, JM has played a significant role in shaping the content and boundaries of the marketing discipline. Shrihari (Hari) Sridhar (Joe Foster ’56 Chair in Business Leadership, Professor of Marketing at Mays Business School, Texas A&M University) serves as the current Editor in Chief.

About the American Marketing Association (AMA) 

As the largest chapter-based marketing association in the world, the AMA is trusted by marketing and sales professionals to help them discover what is coming next in the industry. The AMA has a community of local chapters in more than 70 cities and 350 college campuses throughout North America. The AMA is home to award-winning content, PCM® professional certification, premiere academic journals, and industry-leading training events and conferences.



From empowering women to being empowered by women: A gendered social innovation framework for tourism-led development initiatives

From empowering women to being empowered by women: A gendered social innovation framework for tourism-led development initiatives
Gendered Social Innovation: Social Change and Female Entrepreneurship in Tourism  Gendered social innovation is a crucial process that intertwines social change with female entrepreneurship, empowerment, and the evolution of work among women in the tourism industry.  Questioning Common Perceptions  Why question the usual perceptions about the role and status of women entrepreneurs in a globalized and capitalist industry? Where does power, creativity, and innovation truly reside in tourism development?  Often, discussions about gender equality in tourism revolve around a vision that confines women to the role of service providers, perpetuating stereotypes ...

Survey finds most women with uterine fibroids are offered hysterectomies over minimally invasive treatments

FAIRFAX, Va. (July 9, 2024)— Among women who have personally been diagnosed with uterine fibroids, more than half (53%) were presented with a hysterectomy, while fewer than 1 in 5 (20%) were presented with other less invasive options such as over-the-counter NSAIDs (19%), uterine fibroid embolization (17%), oral contraceptives (17%), and endometrial ablation (17%), according to new survey data by The Harris Poll on behalf of the Society of Interventional Radiology. Moreover, some women (17%) mistakenly ...

Patient out-of-pocket costs for type 2 diabetes medications when aging into Medicare

About The Study: In this cohort study of individuals with type 2 diabetes (T2D), the increase in spending upon reaching age 65 (when most people enroll in Medicare) was associated with patient coinsurance in the coverage gap and catastrophic coverage phases of Medicare Part D. The increased patient cost burden at age 65 and a modest reduction in overall T2D drug utilization suggest that as people with T2D age into Medicare, there is potentially an increase in nonadherence and diabetes complications.  Corresponding Author: To contact the corresponding author, Douglas ...

Prenatal exposure to ambient air pollution and cerebral palsy

About The Study: In this large cohort study of singleton full term births in Canada, prenatal ambient PM2.5 exposure was associated with an increased risk of cerebral palsy in offspring. Further studies are needed to explore this association and its potential biological pathways, which could advance the identification of environmental risk factors of cerebral palsy in early life.  Corresponding Author: To contact the corresponding author, Carmen Messerlian, Ph.D., email To access the embargoed study: Visit our For The Media website ...

Whale remains tracked to highlight sustainable disposal benefits

Whale remains tracked to highlight sustainable disposal benefits
A string of whale strandings on the East Australian Coastline and questions around the appropriate disposal methods for the remains has prompted a new study that highlights a sustainable, cultural and ecosystem beneficial offshore removal or decomposition.  Dr Olaf Meynecke, from Griffith University’s Whales and Climate Research Program, led the case study, in which a 14m female humpback whale was found floating deceased – likely to due to ship strike – in the coastal waters off Queensland’s Noosa Heads in July 2023.  The remains were intercepted before washing up on the shoreline, then repositioned 30km offshore ...

Research Spotlight: Researchers find that adverse drug events are frequent and many are preventable in the outpatient setting

Rachel L. Wasserman, PharmD, of the Department of General Internal Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, is the lead author and David W. Bates, MD, medical director of Clinical and Quality Analysis for Mass General Brigham and Co-Director of the Center for Artificial Intelligence and BioInformatics for Mass General Brigham, is the senior author of a new study published in BMJ Quality & Safety, “Frequency and preventability of adverse drug events in the outpatient setting.” How would you summarize your study for a lay audience? Many studies have analyzed ...

From genomes to gardens: introducing the HortGenome Search Engine for horticultural crops

From genomes to gardens: introducing the HortGenome Search Engine for horticultural crops
The HortGenome Search Engine (HSE) introduces a groundbreaking tool that transforms the exploration of horticultural crops' genetics. Enabling swift access and analysis of data from over 500 plant species, HSE enhances our ability to decode complex genetic networks. This launch marks a pivotal advancement in horticultural studies, offering detailed insights into crop genetics critical for human nutrition and health. As genomics profoundly reshapes our understanding of horticultural crops, researchers often grapple with dispersed and complex genomic data. This fragmentation significantly hinders effective analysis ...

From winter's rest to spring's bloom: PmDAM6 gene steers plant bud dormancy

From winters rest to springs bloom: PmDAM6 gene steers plant bud dormancy
This pivotal study explores the genetic orchestration of bud dormancy in woody perennials, a survival strategy crucial for enduring harsh climates. It focuses on the PmDAM6 gene, revealing its regulatory effects on lipid metabolism and phytohormone dynamics within dormant meristems, which dictate the plant's seasonal transition from rest to growth. Plant dormancy's genetic mechanisms are vital for enhancing agricultural resilience and productivity. The interaction between lipid metabolism and hormone regulation significantly influences ...

From kale to carotenoid powerhouse: a breakthrough in plant nutrition

From kale to carotenoid powerhouse: a breakthrough in plant nutrition
A recent study has identified a crucial regulatory mechanism in Chinese kale, potentially revolutionizing its nutritional profile. By manipulating the BoaBZR1.1 transcription factor, researchers significantly enhanced carotenoid levels, crucial antioxidants for human health. This advancement opens pathways for improving vegetable nutrition through genetic engineering. Carotenoids, vital antioxidants in plants, are integral for human health, enhancing immunity and preventing diseases. However, many vegetables, including Chinese kale, naturally exhibit low carotenoid levels. To address this nutritional gap, scientists are exploring genetic ...

CMU, Meta announce research collaboration aimed at making computer-based tasks and gaming accessible to people with different motor abilities via wearable sensing technology

CMU, Meta announce research collaboration aimed at making computer-based tasks and gaming accessible to people with different motor abilities via wearable sensing technology
PITTSBURGH - As part of a larger commitment to developing equitable technology, Carnegie Mellon University and Meta announce a collaborative project to make computer-based tasks accessible to more people. This project focuses on using wearable sensing technology to enable people with different motor abilities to perform everyday tasks and enjoy gaming in digital and mixed reality environments. Meta’s research in electromyography uses sensors placed on the skin to measure the electrical signals the user generates through muscles in their wrist, which are translated into input signals for various devices. While Meta has already ...


The research was wrong: study shows moderate drinking won’t lengthen your life

Save your data on printable magnetic devices? New laser technique’s twist might make this reality

Early onset dementia more common than previously reported – the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease seems to be on the rise

Pesticides potentially as bad as smoking for increased risk in certain cancers

NUS researchers develop new battery-free technology to power electronic devices using ambient radiofrequency signals

New protein discovery may influence future cancer treatment

Timing matters: Scripps Research study shows ways to improve health alerts

New gene therapy approach shows promise for Duchenne muscular dystrophy

Chemical analyses find hidden elements from renaissance astronomer Tycho Brahe’s alchemy laboratory

Pacific Northwest launches clean hydrogen energy hub

Tiny deletion in heart muscle protein briefly affects embryonic ventricles but has long-term effects on adult atrial fibrillation

Harms of prescribing NSAIDs to high risk groups estimated to cost NHS £31m over 10 years

Wearing a face mask in public spaces cuts risk of common respiratory symptoms, suggests Norway study

Some private biobanks overinflating the value of umbilical cord blood banking in marketing to expectant parents

New research in fatty liver disease aims to help with early intervention

Genetics reveal ancient trade routes and path to domestication of the Four Corners potato

SNIS 2024: New study shows critical improvements in treating rare eye cancer in children

Wearable devices can increase health anxiety. Could they adversely affect health?

Addressing wounds of war

Rice researchers develop innovative battery recycling method

It’s got praying mantis eyes

Stroke recovery: It’s in the genes

Foam fluidics showcase Rice lab’s creative approach to circuit design

Montana State scientists publish evidence for new groups of methane-producing organisms

Daily rhythms depend on receptor density in biological clock

New England Journal of Medicine publishes outcomes from practice-changing E1910 trial for patients with BCR::ABL1-negative B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia

Older adults want to cut back on medication, but study shows need for caution

Nationwide flood models poorly capture risks to households and properties

Does your body composition affect your risk of dementia or Parkinson’s?

Researchers discover faster, more energy-efficient way to manufacture an industrially important chemical

[] The new paradigm in volunteering -- and how organizations can adapt to "neither-growing-nor-fading" brand relationships
News from the Journal of Marketing