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Improved Efficiency of Transient Volunteers at Ronald McDonald House of

Central Ohio
Brooke Cavallo
The Ohio State University
Cavallo.4@osu.edu
ABSTRACT
In this paper, I summarize research regarding
Ronald McDonald House of Central Ohios
asset of transient volunteers and how they can
improve the efficiency of their programs
specifically, volunteers of the Meal Program
so that they can continue strong retention and
continue to serve their mission. I considered
the multiple volunteer opportunities Ronald
McDonald House offers in the Central Ohio
location but focus specifically on the
dynamics of the Meal Program. Based on this
research and interviews I conducted with
previous Ronald McDonald House Meal
Program volunteers, I outline how their
facility can become more efficient and
continue to retain volunteers and serve their
mission. I outline how the Ronald McDonald
House can improve their efficiency and
communication with transient volunteers. I
focus on previous volunteers perspectives
and specifically focus on their experiences,
concerns and advice on how Ronald
McDonald House can improve their Meal
Program. As a result, I propose that visible
instructions and a small orientation are
provided to new groups of volunteers who are
providing meals for the first time.

local hospitals. Ronald McDonald House


depends on a significant amount of
volunteerism to operate and maintain the
different services they provide to the
individuals they serve. These programs and
facilities include living arrangements for short
or long term visits to local hospitals, close
access to Nationwide Childrens Hospital, and
daily meals to provide stability in the midst of
challenging times [1RMH]. Although Ronald
McDonald House has around 400 active
volunteers in their database, volunteer
efficiency and retention is key to the success
of their programs.
1 out of 3 volunteers who volunteer in one
year do not volunteer the next year, a 66
percent volunteer retention rate [2 issue brief].
Research also shows that volunteers who
collect, prepare, distribute or serve food have
a 58.6 percent retention, below the average
rate of 66 percent [2].
These statistics highlight the importance of
having successful volunteer programs within
a large organization such as Ronald
McDonald House. 78 percent of volunteers
claim that volunteering their time for the
greater good of others lowers their levels of
stress and feel a deeper connection to
communities and to others [3]. According to
Ronald McDonald House of Central Ohio,
they have no operating budget for food to
provide meals to the families they serve.
Instead, various volunteer groups provide
meals to families through the Meal Program.

Keywords
Transient volunteers; volunteers; efficiency;
Ronald McDonald House; programs;
volunteer programs
1. Introduction
The Ronald McDonald House of Central Ohio
is the largest of its kind in the world. They
strive to provide a home-away-from-home for
families who have children getting treated at

Understanding the determinants of volunteer


retention is vital for any organizations growth
and success. Management literature suggests

that low retention rates will indicate a poor


management structure, with volunteers feeling
that their contribution to the project is either not
effective, valued, or that they are not progressing
as individuals while performing their role [4].
Because Ronald McDonald House values the
commitment of many transient volunteer groups
to provide meals to the families, it is extremely
important to help enhance their program in any
way possible to ensure a positive experience for
guests and volunteers.

Through this qualitative research method, I was


able to develop a better understanding and
successfully contact individuals to interview to
further my research on transient volunteers.
2.2 Participants
A total of five individuals who have previously
volunteered at the Ronald McDonald Houses
Meal Program were recruited to participate in a
personal interview. Recruitment for participants
was very specific and required that the individual
had only volunteered at Ronald McDonald
Houses Meal Program one time. Participation in
the interview was voluntary. After obtaining
consent, individuals were interviewed for
approximately ten minutes and asked specifically
about their experience at Ronald McDonald
House and the efficiency of the Meal Program in
their own words. All interviews were properly
documented and analyzed. Of the participants,
three were female and two were male and all
identified as Caucasian.

It is not within the scope of this paper to analyze


every Meal Program volunteer group of Ronald
McDonald House in Central Ohio and their
retention rates. Instead, I intend to highlight
Ronald McDonalds House and how they can
increase the efficiency of the Meal Program and
encourage more individuals to continue
volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House. As
such, in what follows, I
Describe the methodology utilized to
develop the basis of my research which
included personal observation of the Meal
Program and interviews conducted with
previous one-time Meal Program
volunteers
Analyze the data observed and learned
through observation and interviews to
develop potential solutions
Propose ways Ronald McDonald House
can increase the efficiency and
effectiveness of their Meal Program for
the families they serve on a daily basis

2.3 Measures
The interviews collected data about interviewees
personal experience at the Ronald McDonald
House, but specifically with their experience
volunteering
with
the
Meal
Program.
Interviewees were asked specifically about their
opinion of the Meal Programs efficiency and
how it can be improved for future transient
volunteers. Demographic information was also
captured.
3. Results/Analysis
The purpose of primary research about volunteer
efficiency is to create a better understanding of
issues that the Ronald McDonald House is facing
from perspectives they may not be aware of
currently. The purpose of this primary research is
to find credible sources to back the proposed
solution that will be discussed in this paper.

2. Methodology
2.1 Personal Observation
To adequately conduct a thorough and complex
understanding of the Ronald McDonald Houses
assets and issues, I personally observed a group
of transient volunteers visiting to provide lunch
to guests of the house. The purpose of observing
a meal preparation was to immerse myself into
the daily culture of Ronald McDonald House and
better understand the assets and issues of the
Meal Program from a personal observation.

3.1 Observation Analyses


To gather a better understanding of the Meal
Program from beginning to end, observation was
the most successful research method to utilize.
2

To adequately gather credible material, I


observed the volunteer group without interfering
and simply took note of what I observed.

supported by paying attention to their needs and


requests [10]
Although Ronald McDonald House has a very
successful Meal Program, there is always room
for improvement to encourage and retain more
volunteers for their Meal Program and other
volunteer opportunities they offer. In order to
successfully instruct and help transient
volunteers feel more comfortable utilizing their
facilities, there are several actions Ronald
McDonald House can take to ensure a positive
experience for not only the families, but the staff
and volunteers as well. These proposed solutions
include,
Ensuring that a Ronald McDonald House
volunteer is present to assist the Meal
Program volunteers with anything they
may need while prepping and serving the
food
Providing the transient volunteers a more
concrete orientation from a staff member
about the facilities and how to utilize
them properly
Simply labeling more appliances with
instructions and labeling storage space to
help transient volunteers feel more
comfortable in their working environment

Through observation, I noticed several important


factors that can be improved and enhance the
Meal Program at Ronald McDonald House.
These observations included.
No visible signs with instruction(s) on
how to safely use various kitchen
equipment
No visible labels on doors or cabinets
instructing volunteers on where specific
dishware/utensils were located
Volunteers consistently asked one another
how to utilize certain things or where
they could find items that were needed
3.2 Interview Analyses
Each volunteer who gave consent to be
interviewed had only volunteered once at Ronald
McDonald House within the last year. All five
volunteers responded similarly to the various
interview questions. Based on the various
research gathered, several conclusions were
made based on responses,
Each volunteer felt as if there was a lack
of instruction by Ronald McDonald
House staff/volunteers
Mild frustration was present due to
confusion and lack of instruction
Although each volunteer enjoyed
interacting with families and the children,
they have not felt motivated to volunteer
again due to the confusion and chaos [5,
6, 7, 8, 9]

Being more aware of the small adjustments


Ronald McDonald House can do to provide their
transient volunteers a better volunteer experience
can be extremely beneficial in the retention of
their volunteers.

References
[1] Ronald McDonald House Charities Central
Ohio. (2010, January 1). Retrieved April
22, 2015, from http://rmhccentralohio.org/who_we_are.php

4. Discussion
Studies show that it is important to understand
the psychology of volunteering so that your
organization can meet their specific needs as they
donate their time and talent [10]. Most
importantly, it is essential that organizations
shape their volunteers experience by creating a
climate where your volunteers feel heard and

[2] Volunteer Retention. (2007). Retrieved April


24, 2015, from
http://www.nationalservice.gov/pdf/VIA/
VIA_brief_retention.pdf
3

[6] Oreh, Olivia. Personal interview. 27 April,


2015.

[3] Study reveals volunteering makes positive


impact on people's health. (2013, June
19). Retrieved April 22, 2015, from
http://www.newsmedical.net/news/20130619/Studyreveals-volunteering-makes-positiveimpact-on-peoples-health.aspx

[7] Vaughn, Caitlin. Telephone interview. 27


April, 2015.
[8] Fusco, Christopher. Telephone interview. 28
April, 2015
[9] Lindsay, Aric. Personal interview. 27 April,
2015

[4] Stockard, J. & Lehman, M.B. (2004)


Influences on the satisfaction and
retention of 1st-year teachers: the
importance of effective school
management. Educ. Adm. Q. 40, 742-771

[10] Tips for Increasing the Efficiency of Your


Volunteer Program. (n.d.). Retrieved April 27,
2015, from
http://www.resources.blackbaud.com/nonprofitfinancial-management/tips-increasing-efficiencyvolunteer-program.html

[5] Shadler, Alexis. Personal interview. 27 April,


2015.