Volunteer Motivation, Organizational Commitment, and Engagement: Knights of Columbus Explanatory Case Study

Volunteer Motivation, Organizational Commitment, and Engagement: Knights of Columbus Explanatory Case Study

Author: 
Vincent John Fernandes
Program of study: 
D.M.
Abstract: 
The purpose of this qualitative explanatory single case study was to understand why Knights of Columbus (KofC) volunteers in Ontario, Canada demonstrate motivation, organizational commitment, and engagement. The scope of the study was guided by two main research questions: “Why do KofC members volunteer?” and “How do KofC members combine elements of motivation, organizational commitment, and engagement in their volunteer activity?” The triangulation of participant interviews, observations from KofC general meetings, and online archived documents supported the study’s qualitative methodology that required rich, descriptive data. For feasibility, the population of this study was comprised of KofC volunteers within three councils in Ontario, Canada and 17 KofC members were selected purposively based on age and experience criteria for face-to-face interviews. Transcribed interview data, observational field notes and archival documents were analyzed and coded using NVivo 11 to uncover three emerging themes: living one’s faith, loyalty, and flexibility. The findings indicated that KofC members have alignment between personal and organizational values, intend to follow Biblical scripture to live their faith in the public square, and feel obligated to help others in need. Fraternity and unity were welcomed benefits that KofC members enjoyed while volunteering. KofC provides volunteers with role and task variety, which allows volunteers to choose the activities that suit their interest, skill set, and time commitment. By gaining insights from these themes, organizational leaders can improve their communication to potential and existing volunteers, foster stronger relationships among volunteers, and develop programs that engage volunteers through catered recruitment and retention strategies.
Dedication: 
I dedicate this dissertation to my beloved mom and dad who have always encouraged me to pursue my dreams and taught me the importance of work ethic, persistence, resourcefulness, and pushing past boundaries. Throughout my life, my parents have nurtured me with their unconditional love and showed concern for my well-being. I am grateful that they genuinely experience pride and joy based on my success and happiness. As much as I have sacrificed to complete this doctoral journey, they have sacrificed, too. Therefore, this dissertation is as much theirs as it is mine. I cannot imagine completing this challenging chapter in my life without the unwavering support of my parents. They had faith in my ability to finish the doctoral journey I started 5½ years ago. I also dedicate this dissertation to the Knights of Columbus and my Brother Knights. This dissertation would not have been possible without their approval and participation in the study. I am so glad that I belong to an organization that shares my values of charity, unity, fraternity, and patriotism. As I continue to learn about the significant volunteer hours and donations that so many Knights have contributed to the organization and society, I pray that I too am able to make a significant impact in my community with the Knights of Columbus. As I have assumed the role of Grand Knight at my council, I know that my journey as a Knight has only begun. I intend to follow in the footsteps of my late dad, who served honorably as a 4th degree Knight. I will use the Scholar-Practitioner-Leader model and my study’s findings to stay motivated, committed, and engaged in the Knights of Columbus while promoting the organization to others. In loving memory of my dad, Albert Fernandes.
Acknowledgements: 
Although I consider myself a lifelong learner, I have truly felt like it has taken me an eternity to finish my doctoral journey. Before I took my first step on the challenging path that would take me over 5½ years to travel, my ego planted the idea in my head that I needed to reach the highest level of education I could possibly attain. Whether it was my desire for the title of “Doctor Fernandes”, the need to overcome my sense of inadequacy among peers, or my pursuit to breathe rarified air, I succumbed to my pride, leaned into my cavalier whim, and took control of my destiny. With my newfound goal in mind, I chose not to dwell on the karmic withdrawal that I used for educational advancement instead of focusing on other life goals and pursuits. Upon reflection, completing the Doctor of Management program has been similar to my other feats of completing a marathon and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. On all accounts, my unbridled optimism at the beginning of each journey turned into bewilderment when I realized the monumental task which I had willingly agreed to tackle. At every crossroad, I chose to persevere, sacrifice, and “give it my all.” Thankfully, the doctoral program did not break me. However, the intellectual, physical, social, and emotional fatigue stretched me considerably. Intellectually, I knew I was capable of adding value to the world of academia by filling a gap in existing literature that would be applicable to practice and leadership. Unfortunately, I did not anticipate the extreme physical strain I would put on myself by adding 65 pounds to my frame. Unhealthily, I chose to binge eat my way through the mismanaged stress of balancing an inordinate amount of time on schoolwork with a demanding career, family life, relegated social presence, and an altruistic need to give back to the community through volunteerism. There were countless sleepless nights I spent finishing assignments minutes before the 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. Eastern Standard Time deadlines, and subsequently going into the office that morning like a walking zombie. Only God knows how much shorter my life span is because of the ill-advised physical demands I put on my body. My shrunken social circle, failed relationships, and inability to devote quality time to family, friends, or my future wife were known sacrifices that I did not take lightly. At the outset of my doctoral program, I truly believed that earning my doctorate would come at the expense of finding my true love. Emotionally, I took an 8-month hiatus from school after losing my dad to his battle with cancer, as I was unsure if I could ever recover from such a debilitating loss. The everyday struggles associated with this doctoral program were challenging to overcome. However, my resolve to complete this trying journey was emboldened by taking to heart Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” I was also supported heavily by my parents’ unconditional love and the sacrifices they continually made throughout their lives to secure my continued happiness. On a “need-to-know basis”, I entrusted only a handful of friends and family with knowledge of my educational endeavor. I appreciated their support and encouragement. I am very thankful that I was able to surround myself with great intellectual minds who agreed to join my committee consisting of Dr. Lynne Devnew, Dr. Laura Brewer, and Dr. Shawn Boone. I could not have crossed the finish line without the expertise, direction, and support that I received from my Dissertation Chair, Dr. Lynne Devnew. A special thank you goes to Dr. Laura Brewer who also supported me every step of the way. Lastly, thank you to Dr. Shawn Boone for joining my committee later in the process, to my peers and professors who expanded my knowledgebase online and at residency, and to the ever-supportive Phoenix Connect group. As a proud University of Phoenix alumnus, I have risen from the ashes of a doctoral program that was necessary for my personal development. I know this Doctor of Management degree will pay dividends in the future. It is my goal to leverage the Scholar-Practitioner-Leader model to make use of this doctorate for the greater glory of God.