Date of Award

Fall 2013

Degree Type

Professional Project

Degree Name

Masters in Leadership Studies


College of Professional Studies

First Advisor

Leslee Ruscitti


Volunteers are an essential part of any nonprofit organization. In many cases, volunteers play a vital role in the success of the organization in which they serve. Specifically, this paper focuses on the volunteers serving animal shelters: a place that does not always have a positive outcome for the animals. This research serves as a vehicle to determine what encourages people to begin volunteering in such an emotional setting and what motivates them to continue to share their time in the facility. The study serves to aid in the development of a volunteer program at the Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission (MADACC). Based on individual interviews of current animal shelter volunteers, the study finds that MADACC is typically the first animal-centered volunteer experience for many people. Most volunteers focus on the welfare of the animals during their stay at the shelter and are dedicated to the animals they serve. Volunteers may experience joy and satisfaction from knowing that the animals make it out of the shelter alive. The consensus is that MADACC could spend more time and effort on marketing to help increase animal adoptions and transfers. To increase retention of volunteers, communication between supervisors and volunteers should improve. The results of this study may assist the volunteer manager at MADACC to increase volunteer recruitment and improve volunteer retention rates, thus helping the neediest animals in the county.