Dual mode scheduling in volunteer management

Mariana Escallon-Barrios*, Reut Noham, Karen Smilowitz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Nonprofit organizations have adopted online scheduling platforms that give autonomy to volunteers in the scheduling process. However, this strategy can create imbalances in task coverage, often requiring staff to fill the gaps. The aim of this study is to develop scheduling strategies to create a balanced schedule that effectively combines workforce types (paid staff and volunteers) while keeping volunteers engaged. This is achieved by accounting for volunteers’ responses to changes in scheduling options. We develop an optimization model that recognizes volunteers’ scheduling responses and utilizes these responses to design policies aimed at achieving a balanced coverage across time slots. This involves reducing over-covered and under-covered time slots over the planning horizon. By understanding the preferences of volunteers, organizations can modify their current policies to better match supply with demand keeping their volunteers engaged. We provide an implementable scheduling strategy combining staff assignment and volunteers’ autonomy in scheduling choices. Case study results show an improvement compared to current scheduling policies. Volunteers’ satisfaction increases, resulting in a long-term impact on the organizations and the communities they serve.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101796
JournalSocio-Economic Planning Sciences
StatePublished - Apr 2024


  • Nonprofit operations
  • Volunteer engagement
  • Volunteer scheduling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Strategy and Management
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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