Leadership and Volunteerism in Youth: In Impact Analyses in Turkish Red Crescent

Author/s
Adem Başpınar1, Sedat Doğan2, Büşra Turan Tüylüoğlu3

1 Adem Başpınar Kırklareli University, Department of Sociology, Kırklareli, Turkey

2 Sedat Doğan Erciyes University, Kayseri, Turkey

3 Büşra Turan Tüylüoğlu Kırklareli University, Department of Sociology, Kırklareli, Turkey

Abstract

This article is based on the effect analysis of the Leadership and Volunteerism Programmes conducted by the CPC of the Turkish Red Crescent’s Migration Services Directorate. For the impact analysis field research was conducted with a mixed method. A convergent parallel mixed-method design was used; two different data collection processes (i.e., qualitative and quantitative) were conducted, the data were analysed and then interpreted. In this context, evaluations were received using semi-structured meetings and focus group interviews with the volunteers (from the participants and then the volunteers of the Volunteerism Programme and Leadership Programme), their families, and youth workers. In addition, pre-tests and post-tests were applied to the volunteer candidates who participated to the training within the scope of the programmes during the 2020-2021 session. A total of 15 volunteers were interviewed during the qualitative research and focus group interviews were conducted with 22 volunteers, 13 parents and 11 youth workers. During the quantitative research, pre-tests and post-tests were applied to 138 people receiving volunteerism training in 14 centres. In this regard, the opinions of those completing the programme were taken before and after the programme regarding leadership features and volunteering skills. The programmes were evaluated by detecting the programmes’ effects comparatively and by obtaining in-depth data regarding the structure and operation of the programme as well as the beneficiaries’ and workers’ perceptions and experiences. The participants of the research can be suggested to have made progress regarding respecting the ideas of younger children, giving presents to children, preparing a schedule and planning the day, multi-purpose usage of materials, and understanding the difficulties of being a team. They can be said to have understood the importance of calmly expressing emotions and thoughts during a conflict, of presenting reasonable suggestions, and of being part of a team; they began to care about each team member’s motivation, to listen to the directives of the leader and to try to get to know a person before expressing opinions about them. They can also be said to have learned not to hesitate to defend their ideas, to understand the importance of empathy; to begin considering developing leadership features and respect differences and how to lead a team.

Full Text

Literature Review

The literature on volunteerism and leadership is quite extensive. Alongside the development of non-governmental organizations in Turkey over the last few decades (Yıllara göre faal dernek sayıları, 2022), the interest in volunteerism and leadership is also seen to have increased in line with the increases observed in terms of variables such as the number, prevalence, and variety of activity areas regarding volunteer and leadership programmes (Türkiye’de gönüllülük araştırması, 2019). Volunteerism in particular can be said to have become an important topic in sociology (Çakı, 2014).

Volunteerism

Volunteerism by its nature and common definition is expected to be directly related to altruism. The factors of volunteers’ expectations and motivations have been associated with altruism since the pioneering works belonging to the relevant literature (Esmond & Dunlop, 2004). However, the literature mentions a great number of expectation-motivation factors. These factors can be effective together or on their own with regard to understanding the motivation to volunteer, and different inventories have been derived by way of certain classifications based on these factors.

The chronological path of the relevant literature can be roughly given as follows: Horton-Smith (1981) developed a two-dimensional model of egoism and altruism; Fitch (1987)developed a three-dimensional model of selfishness, social responsibility, and altruism; Cnaan and Goldberg-Glen’s (1991) study identified 28 motivational incentives, and their study showed selfish and altruistic factors to function together in place of a one-dimensional model on volunteerism; Clary et al. (1998)developed a 6 subscale model within the framework of functional motivation theory; and Esmond and Dunlop (2004)developed a 10 subscale model by redesigning previous models.

The prominent factors in these and similar studies can be generally listed as follows: human values, humanitarian aid, changing the world, giving direction to the future, social responsibility, religious responsibility, understanding different cultures and people, spiritual gratification, social activity, personal development, self-actualization, gaining self-confidence, gaining communication skills, acquiring language skills, improving life status, social interaction, career, and free time evaluations. As one of the most comprehensive studies in the literature Esmond and Dunlop’s (2004) research revealed the 10 subscales related to volunteers’ expectations and motivations to be: Values, career development, reciprocity, responsiveness, appreciation/recognition, social, understanding, self-esteem, interaction, and protection (from a negative state of mind).

Basically, the fact that each of the factors can be grouped as selfish, social, or altruistic is clearly important for researchers. However, the topic’s different aspects or different factors are seen to be emphasized due to the conditions or structure of the assorted studies. Hustinx (2001) stated that, unlike experienced volunteers, new volunteers have higher selfish motivations due to not yet having organizational ties. While some researchers who place emphasis on sustainable volunteering have established a relationship between organizational belonging and motivation (Fisher & Ackerman, 1998), others emphasize the role model approach for individuals who are new volunteers and thus have yet to have formed organizational commitment (Grube & Piliavin, 2000). Frish and Gerrard’s (1981) finding that career expectations are prominent in youths in relation to the variable of age, Gillespie and King’s (2015) finding that altruistic factors are determinant as age and experience increase, and Wilson’s (2000) finding that the factor of humanitarian aid becomes determinant as age increases in response to personal expectations are mutually supportive (Muştu, 2019). Agerheim’s determination regarding historical and cultural background to be determinants in terms of the factors of expectations-motivations and impacts-gains is consistent with some of the studies in Turkey (Boz & Palaz, 2007; Çakı, 2011).

While the majority of the studies in Turkey on this subject are field research (Abban, 2016; Balta, 2008; Boz & Palaz, 2007; Büyük, İşlek, Çakmak, & Tiltay, 2016; Muştu, 2019; Şentürk, Adıgüzel, & Turan, 2016; Erdoğmuş, Bircan, Sayın, & Aydemir, 2020), a few of the prominent ones in the literature are in the form of adapting and applying motivation inventories to Turkey/Turkish (Çevik & Gürsel, 2015). Many of the studies conducted in Turkey have found altruistic factors to be determinative (Boz & Palaz, 2007; Erdoğmuş et al., 2020; Muştu, 2019; Şentürk et al., 2016).

Leadership

Leadership is a subject with a broad literature, especially in the business and management field. As a general trend, theoretical-descriptive studies usually focus on topics such as leadership definitions, leadership approaches, and leadership types, while practical/applied studies usually deal with topics such as leadership orientations, leadership behaviours, and leadership characteristics using specific scales. The impacts and gains determined for the leadership curriculum or course programmes can be said to basically be aimed at improving individuals’ leadership orientations, leadership characteristics, and leadership behaviours. Similarly, individuals can be assumed to act with expectations and motivations in line with the gains determined by the programme developers while participating in such programs. In this situation, the relevant literature gains importance.

Three types of approaches are found in studies on leadership orientations: the traits approach, which focuses on the individual’s superior characteristics; the behavioral approach, which focuses on the individual’s behaviors; and the contingency approach, which suggests that different leadership styles can be activated under different conditions (Önen & Kanayran, 2015).

In one study that categorized leadership behaviors as being human-oriented and task-oriented, youth leaders’ human-oriented leadership behaviors were understood to consist of the themes of communication, teamwork, delegation of authority, sense of trust, inclusion, representation, guidance, and creativity, while task-oriented behaviors were understood to be formed of the themes of purpose awareness, planning, specifying rules, volunteering, making decisions, being a role model, and directing (Parlar & Çelebi, 2017).

Some of the gains compiled from the broad literature regarding leadership characteristics can be listed as follows: problem solving, sharing leadership, decision making, goal setting, justice, teamwork, communication skills, responsibility, belonging, time management, crisis and stress management, self-knowledge, self-development, empathy, self-discipline and management, and critical thinking (Bektaş, 2016; Cansoy, 2015; Durmuş, 2011; Parlar & Çelebi, 2017; Saylık & Anık, 2021; Tüysüz, 2007).

Studies on leadership are observed to generally develop and apply a variety of scales, adapt existing scales, or use ready-made scales. However, these measurement tools have been emphasized as being weak for youth leadership compared to adult leadership, and the need exists for scale development in Turkey as opposed to scale adaptations due to the differentiations regarding both youths’ perceptions and the cultural conditions (Cansoy & Turan, 2016). The studies conducted in Turkey have obtained important findings from analysing the variables affecting the development of leadership characteristics.

Cansoy (2015) found that students have the highest levels for trust and reliability and the lowest levels for communication skills, that reassuring parental attitudes in particular improve students’ leadership characteristics, that the levels of youth leadership characteristics are highest in Anatolian Imam Hatip High School students and lowest in science high school students, that academic success is higher for students who read many books a lot as well as for students who participate in community service and group works.

Görmüş and Aydın (2020)stated that the youth leaders have high total job satisfaction and internal satisfaction levels and moderate external satisfaction levels, with a high level of overall self-leadership for the sub-dimensions of focusing thoughts on natural rewards, self-observation, and evaluating thoughts and ideas; with a medium level of overall self-leadership for the sub-dimensions of imagine successful performance by setting goals for oneself, self-talk, self-reward, and reminders; and with below-average levels in the self-leadership sub-dimensions of self-punishment. That same study found a significant low-level positive relationship to exist between job satisfaction and self-leadership. In other words, a positive linear relationship was determined between youth leaders’ self-leadership levels and job satisfaction levels.

One study (Yılmaz & Yenel, 2020) used the Leadership Orientations Scale developed by Bolman and Deal (1991) and found similar levels regarding gender while finding significant differences with regard to age, education level, leadership tenure, and leadership title. Another study (Saylık & Anık, 2021) took similar variables into account and found no significant difference for the overall score or sub-dimensions of leadership characteristics in terms of gender, educational status, monthly income, mother’s education level, or father’s education level, while finding significant difference with respect to age, level of participation in cultural activities, and leadership roles. The same study concluded the averages regarding youth leadership characteristics to differ significantly according to the sub-dimensions of willingness to struggle and set goals, ability to communicate, group skills, trustworthiness and reliability, decision-making skills, problem-solving skills, accountability, and responsibility. A similar study (Yolsal et al., 2017) revealed youths’ perceptions of transformational leadership to differ according to their level of education, the main factor affecting the level of education to be age, and youths’ perceptions of transformational leadership to increase with age.

Method

This research aims to assess the effects from the Volunteerism and Leadership Programmes in TRC using mixed methods. Mixed-methods research is research conducted using qualitative and quantitative methods together in line with the principles of the pragmatist philosophy for the purpose of comprehensively and multi-dimensionally investigating the research (Yıldırım & Şimşek, 2013, p. 351). Mixed-methods research is not a simple association of qualitative and quantitative methods but rather uses all these methods in a mutually supportive manner to obtain better, more comprehensive findings (Creswell, 2013; Creswell & Plano Clark, 2014; Fırat et al., 2014). The current research prefers convergent parallel mixed methods. As Creswell stated (2016, p. 15), convergent parallel mixed methods either combine or integrate qualitative and quantitative data to conduct a comprehensive analysis regarding the question of the research. For this type of research, qualitative and quantitative data are collected over the same period and integrated during the analysis and interpretation stages (Creswell, 2016, p. 15). Accordingly, this research has conducted two separate qualitative and quantitative data collection processes.

The quantitative part of the research was conducted according to the experimental model known as the single group pre-test/post-test pre-trial model. Karasar (2016) stated this model to observe the dependent variable of a randomly selected group using a pre-test prior to the experiment. Next, the impact from the independent variable is observed with the post-test after the experiment to show the effect on the dependent variable; the result is comparatively interpreted. In this context, before and after the training program that supports the leadership features and volunteering skills of those who complete the program, the opinions of the participants on their leadership features and volunteering skills were asked and the effect of the program was determined in a comparative way.

Meanwhile, the qualitative extent of the research involved an assessment using the case study design. Case study is a research design in which mainly incidents, processes, individuals and programmes are deeply analysed. It is used during assessment processes in particular (Creswell, 2016, p. 14). In this context, the assessment research focused on the structure, content, context and outcome of the programme in order to increase the effectiveness of the pertinent programme; this assessment collected in-depth data on subjects such as the beneficiaries’ experiences, what activities were organized, what the staff does, the operation of the processes and what being a beneficiary means (Patton, 2002, pp. 161–162). Accordingly, the qualitative part of the research assessed the programme by obtaining in-depth data on the programme’s structure, function, the perceptions and experiences of the beneficiaries and staff.

Study Group/Sample

Qualitative Research

Data for the qualitative part of the research were collected from three different groups: volunteers, parents of volunteers, and youth personnel. Focus group meetings were conducted for the youth personnel, parents of volunteers, whereas both interviews and focus groups were conducted with the volunteers. A total of 15 volunteers were interviewed, while 22 volunteers, 13 parents and 11 youth personnel participated in the focus groups. A total of seven focus groups were conducted, three with volunteers, two with parents and two with youth personnel.

Of the 15 interviewed volunteers, six are Turkish and nine are Syrian (seven females and eight males). The volunteers are 16 to 20 years old. Of the 22 volunteers interviewed in the focus groups, 5 are Turkish and 17 are Syrian (14 females and eight males). These volunteers are 15 to 18 years old (while they participated programmes). Of the 13 parents of the volunteers interviewed in the focus groups, 3 are Turkish and 10 are Syrian (12 mothers and 1 father). The parents are between 34 to 53 years old. All 11 of the Turkish Red Crescent youth workers interviewed in the focus groups are Turkish (5 females and 6 males). The youth workers are between 28 to 41 years old. Table 4 displays the distribution of youth workers according to gender and the city in which they work.

Quantitative Research

The Sample from the Volunteering Programme. The experimental study group consists of 138 people who participated in the Volunteerism training at 14 centres between November 2020 and June 2021. 78 (56.5%) of the experimental group of participants are female while 60 (43.5%) are male. The youngest participant from the experimental group is 14 years old and the oldest is 27. The average age of the group was calculated as = 16.99 with a standard deviation of  = 3.11. 8 (5.8%) of the participants in the experimental group are from the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, 102 (73.9%) are from the Syrian Arab Republic, and 28 (20.3%) are from the Republic of Turkey.

The Sample from the Leadership Programme. The experimental study group of this part of the research is comprised of 535 people who participated to the Leadership Programme at one of the 21 centres between November 2020 and June 2021. 377 (70.5%) of the participants in the experimental group are female while 158 (29.5%) are male. The youngest of the experimental group participants is 12 and the oldest is 26. The average age of the group was calculated as = 15.55 with the standard deviation of the distribution being calculated as  = 1.81. 14 (2.6%) of the participants in the experimental group are from the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, 5 (0.9%) are from the Republic of Iraq, 1 (0.2%) is from the Islamic Republic of Iran, 1 (0.2%) is from Lebanon, 4 (0.7%) are from the Federal Republic of Somalia, 377 (70.5%) are from the Syrian Arab Republic, and 133 (24.9%) are from the Republic of Turkey.

Data Collection Tools

Data Collection Tools for the Qualitative Research. Data were collected using face-to-face interviews and focus group meetings for the qualitative part of the research. Interviews were conducted only with volunteers from the Leadership and/or Volunteerism Programmes, whereas the focus group meetings were conducted with three different groups: volunteers, parents of volunteers, and the Turkish Red Crescent youth personnel. Semi-structured questionnaires were used for both the interviews and focus groups. A total of four separate questionnaires were prepared and used for the interviews with the volunteers, the focus groups with the volunteers, the parents of the volunteers from the focus groups, and the Turkish Red Crescent youth personnel.

Data Collection Tools for the Quantitative Research.

Leadership Survey. TRC Child Programme Coordinatorship (CPC) psychologists developed a 6-item form in order to determine the native language, activity area, gender, age and nationality of individuals forming the experimental group as well as the location where they participated in the programme. CPC psychologists developed a 5-point 15-item Likert-type survey in order to determine the leadership features of the individuals forming the experimental group. While preparing the survey items, various leadership scales from the literature were investigated and the survey items were created in accordance with the aims of the programme.

Volunteer Survey. CPC psychologists developed a 6-item form in order to determine the native language, activity area, gender, age and nationality of the individuals forming the experimental group as well as the location where they participated in the programme. CPC psychologists developed a 5-point 33-item Likert-type survey in order to obtain the views of the individuals forming the experimental group regarding their volunteering skills. While preparing the survey items, various scales from the literature were investigated and the survey items were created in accordance with the aims of the programme.

Data Collection and Analysis

Within the scope of qualitative research, data were collected during the face-to-face deep interviews and focus group meetings. Interviews were only held with the volunteers, whereas the focus group meetings were conducted with three different groups: the volunteers, their parents and youth personnel. All interviews were recorded with a tape recorder after obtaining permission from the participants. Afterwards, all records were transcribed into written documents. During all interviews, in-depth data were obtained regarding the subject headings asked about during the qualitative research. An exploratory descriptive analysis was made on the collected data using the programme MAXQDA 2018. The volunteers’ experiences were the focus of the analyses. The attempt was made to understand volunteers’ experiences in the Leadership and/or Volunteerism Programmes by means of both the interviews conducted with them as well as those conducted with the parents and youth personnel. Therefore, various analyses were conducted regarding the structure of the Leadership and Volunteerism Programmes.

Collecting and Analysing the Quantitative Data.

Collecting and Analysing the Volunteers’ Survey Data. The data used in the research were collected between November 2020 and June 2021 from those participating in the Volunteering Training in 21 locations. Due to the pandemic, the data were collected using both face-to-face surveys and online forms. A consent form was presented prior to applying the surveys, and verbal & written directives were provided regarding how to fill in the data collection tools. During the applications, the scales were observed to take approximately 15 minutes to complete.

Within the framework of the main purpose of the research, the data collected regarding the sub-problems were entered into a computer and statistical package programmes were used for the statistical analyses. Before moving on to the statistical analyses, demographic variables were grouped, then the applied survey items were scored.

At this point, the frequencies and percentage distributions describing the demographic features (e.g., activity area, gender, age, nationality and location of the Programme) of individuals forming the experimental group were made. Afterwards, the answers given to the survey articles were linked together based on items, the groups were compared using the t-test and hypotheses for evaluating the programmes’ effects on volunteer skills were analysed.

During the analyses, significance was tested at the minimum level of p < .05, other significance levels have been separately indicated, and the findings have been presented in tables in accordance with the purpose of the research.

Collecting and Analysing the Leadership Survey Data. The data used in the research were collected between November 2020 and June 2021 from those who’d participated in the leadership training programme in 21 activity areas. Due to the pandemic, the data were collected using both face-to-face and online surveys. A consent form was presented before applying the surveys and verbal & written directives were provided regarding how to fill in the data collection tools. During the applications, the scales were observed to take approximately 10 minutes to complete.

Within the framework of the main purpose of the research, the data collected regarding the sub-problems were entered onto a computer and statistical package programmes were used for the statistical analyses. Before moving on to the statistical analyses, the demographic variables were grouped then the applied survey items were scored.

At this point, the frequencies and percentage distributions describing the demographic features (e.g., native language, activity area, gender, age, nationality, and location of the programme in which they participated) of individuals forming the experimental group were made. Afterward, the answers given to the survey items were linked together based on the items; the groups were compared using the t-test and the hypotheses for detecting the effects of the programmes on volunteering skills were tested.

During the analysis, significances were tested at the minimum level of p < .05; other significance levels have been separately indicated and the findings are presented in tables in accordance with the purpose of the research.

Findings

The findings will be presented under two main titles. The first of these is expectations and motivations, and the second is effects and gains. Accordingly, first, the expectations of the volunteers from the “Leadership” and/or “Volunteering” programs and their motivations in the volunteering process will be discussed; then, the effects of the programs and the gains will be presented with quantitative and qualitative findings that reveal parallel results, and the effectiveness of the practices will be examined.

Expectations and motivations

In general terms, the expectations may be grouped under two titles – personal development and humanitarian aid. A significant portion of participants expressed their expectations regarding personal development, while others placed their expectations on the base of humanitarian aid. A few participants, on the other hand, stated that they did not have any expectations before participating in the programme, as they were not informed about volunteering. Both volunteers and parents expressed their expectations from the programme before participating regarding personal development, such as gaining self-confidence, gaining communication skills, improving language skills, learning Turkish (for Syrian volunteers), learning new things, and gaining problem solving skills.

Additionally, there were participants expressing that their expectation from these programmes were to help humans, especially children. It is remarkable that the expectation to help children is especially observed with volunteers who participated in the activities organized by the Turkish Red Crescent before the age of 14.

To help humanity. I mean, there are many negative things as well but we display goodness against them… [Nezih, V]

Understanding and helping children, receiving trainings from people about things I do not know, and helping people. Trusting ourselves more. [Rana, V]

Another issue to be considered regarding expectations is the views about whether the expectations of participants were met. There was no participant stating that their expectations were not met. When it is considered that all participants have been volunteering at least for a while, their indicating that their expectations were not met is understandable. It may be considered that those unable to meet their expectations already stopped volunteering and did not take part in the study group of this research. However, a more important point is that most of the participants stated that they were able to find “more than” what they expected, apart from having their expectations met.

I came across better things than I expected. I had a different expectation before beginning to volunteer and participating in the activities here. However, after beginning to volunteer and participating in the activities, I received a benefit more than I expected. I normally expected a 25% benefit, but received a 90% benefit instead. I actually expected simpler things. [Tayfun, V]

Actually, before coming here, I had thought of the lessons we would receive here to be ordinary lessons that would not affect our lives. However, my life completely changed after beginning to take these lessons. [Mehmet, V]

Before participating in this programme, I actually did not expect this much. [Asu, V]When the reasons of participants for becoming a volunteer and continuing to do it are considered, three main topics become prominent: self-centered/personal reasons, social reasons, altruist reasons. Personal reasons uttered by the participants are as follows:

  • Contributing the education life
  • Happiness and moral satisfaction
  • Improving oneself
  • Gaining self-confidence

At first, I did not think that I could allocate my time here. However, I decided to volunteer when I heard that those participating may be able to improve themselves and especially gain self-confidence. Gaining self-confidence and having a strong personality are very important…
[Tülay, V]

  • Gaining communication skills
  • Sightseeing, having a good time
  • Discovering personal talents
  • Contributing to the CV
  • Obtaining certificates
  • Making use of free time

Social motivations mentioned by the participants are as follows:

  • Being with children

…For me, touching children’s hearts is main reason for me to come here and volunteer. I would be so glad to have touched their hearts, even though a little. [Sinem, V]

  • Gaining reputation, increasing recognition
  • Making children happy
  • Making people happy
  • Understanding people better
  • Transferring experience
  • Becoming a role model
  • Socializing

The altruist motivations indicated by participants are as follows:

  • Helping children
  • Helping people
  • Directing the future

Children mean the future to me. Spending time with children here, directing them and helping them with the professional training we receive is very important to me. That is the reason why I volunteered. [Yeliz, V]

  • Benefiting the public

Benefiting and helping my community living in the camp. [Ayşe, V]

  • Succeeding without taking advantage

I wanted to help people without expecting anything in return. I actually wanted to succeed without a personal gain or an advantage to take. [Reyhan, V]

  • Benefiting humanity
  • Loyalty to the efforts made

After meeting them, receiving trainings from them and observing the activities organized there, my desire increased. I was telling myself that I have to start giving these trainings I received from them. [Zahid, V]

As seen here, participants’ motivations are very diverse. It must be uttered that almost each of the participants have more than one motivations, which may evolve during the process. Although motivations change during the process, it is important for the continuity of volunteering for participants to always be motivated. Participants may have personal, social and altruist motivations at the same time, while some participants may have only egocentric, only social, or only altruist motivations.

Volunteers/participants interpret volunteering basically through the term “unrequited”. They experience a great moral satisfaction when they make an unrequited endeavor for the benefit of people, children, and public. Participants always expressed positive emotions during the interviews. These feelings are one of the important motivations for sustaining volunteering. Happiness, pride, love, peace and trust are among these feelings:

Volunteering is a very special feeling. It is a nice feeling, because it is something we do without expecting anything in return. When I was 14 and younger, I was the one receiving the training, but when I became older than 14, I was the one giving it. This is a nice feeling. It improved our self-confidence and communication skills. It had various benefits for us. When someone ask me whether I receive anything in return here, I tell them this: “Communication is not bought, self-confidence is not bought.” We were unable to buy many things, but gaining such an experience is very nice, even without receiving something in return. [Yeliz, V]

I feel proud of myself when I help people by not expecting anything in return and without any material gains. Well, I feel that I succeeded something, thus, I feel happy. [Reyhan, V]

I think it is a nice experience, and beneficial for all of us – me and them. If I have something to teach them, they benefit from me. The atmosphere is very warm as well. It is like I morally feel more at peace. [Münire, V]

The positive meaning participants place on volunteering and the positive feelings they have about the Turkish Red Crescent have a crucial role in their desire to continue volunteering and to create social benefits while providing them with a moral motivation. Moreover, it reveals contribution of volunteering on not only psychological but also social well-being of the participants.

Effects and gains

The answers given to the Descriptive Survey on Volunteering Skills items were linked together based on items, the groups were compared using the t-test and the hypotheses for evaluating the programmes’ effects on volunteer skills were analysed. The results are given in Table 1.

Table 1

Comparative Analyses of the Answers Given to Pre-test and Post-test Items for Descriptive Survey on Volunteering Skills

Article Measurements
1 I form very close relationships with the children participating in the activities by acting like their older sister/brother. Pre-test 138 4.03 1.18 3.72***
Post-test 138 3.60 1.45
2 While working as a team, I want only my ideas to be accepted. Pre-test 138 2.01 1.13 3.99***
Post-test 138 1.60 .77
3 If I see a child crying, I calm them down by hugging them. Pre-test 138 3.78 1.14 7.05***
Post-test 138 2.93 1.45
4 I respect the ideas of children younger than me. Pre-test 138 4.23 .87 -2.39*
Post-test 138 4.43 .70
5 I consider children older than 15 to be adults. Pre-test 138 2.55 1.20 2.49*
Post-test 138 2.23 1.17
6 I cannot prevent bullying. Pre-test 138 2.30 1.20 2.04*
Post-test 138 2.06 1.11
7 I focus on the solution of issues around me which I consider to be a problem. Pre-test 138 4.10 .91 -1.49
Post-test 138 4.23 .78
8 I do not make plans before beginning to work, I believe that the rest will come after I begin. Pre-test 138 2.46 1.30 2.09*
Post-test 138 2.19 1.31
9 I am repelled by people with whom I do not speak the same language. Pre-test 138 1.86 1.14 3.25**
Post-test 138 1.57 .84
10 I am always right during conflicts. Pre-test 138 2.32 1.15 3.95***
Post-test 138 1.91 1.01
11 I know that I have children’s rights and how to use them. Pre-test 138 4.11 .94 -1.26
Post-test 138 4.24 .91
12 While preparing for an event, I take into consideration the features of my target group (age, culture, etc.) to define methods and techniques. Pre-test 138 4.14 .97 -1.62
Post-test 138 4.32 .89
13 I do not present gifts to children in the activity area, not even to help them. Pre-test 138 2.33 1.36 -2.86**
Post-test 138 2.72 1.50
14 If someone resorts to violence against me, I respond with violence as well. Pre-test 138 2.14 1.22 2.54*
Post-test 138 1.85 .97
15 Contributing to the household income is more important than my education. Pre-test 138 2.30 1.09 2.14*
Post-test 138 2.07 1.00
16 I determine beforehand what to spend time to and how much time to spend within a day. Pre-test 138 3.97 .99 -3.01**
Post-test 138 4.22 .82
17 I can have a correct idea about a person even without knowing them. Pre-test 138 2.97 1.28 1.52
Post-test 138 2.73 1.47
18 A good work plan is a must to realize a project/event. Pre-test 138 4.34 .82 -1.68
Post-test 138 4.48 .74
19 I prefer not to talk in order not to experience conflict regarding an issue. Pre-test 138 3.18 1.20 2.21*
Post-test 138 2.85 1.25
20 No research is needed to solve social problems. Pre-test 138 2.13 1.18 3.68***
Post-test 138 1.74 .92
21 If I am disturbed by the behaviour of a friend, I can easily express this to them. Pre-test 138 3.84 1.09 .68
Post-test 138 3.75 1.11
22 I choose not to be friends with someone from a different cultural background. Pre-test 138 1.83 1.14 2.24*
Post-test 138 1.57 .85
23 I endeavour to solve the problems I face in my environment. Pre-test 138 4.23 .84 -1.19
Post-test 138 4.33 .88
24 I can develop various materials from one material. Pre-test 138 3.81 1.09 -3.15**
Post-test 138 4.12 .76
25 I believe that volunteering cannot support my personal development. Pre-test 138 2.79 1.57 3.24**
Post-test 138 2.36 1.53
26 I consider a target and responsibilities to be necessary in becoming a team. Pre-test 138 4.31 .87 -2.28*
Post-test 138 4.49 .70
27 The less work I do in a team, the better. Pre-test 138 2.14 1.29 1.83
Post-test 138 1.92 1.14
28 I do not expect monetary gains from a volunteer work. Pre-test 138 4.18 1.07 .06
Post-test 138 4.17 1.212
29 I pay more attention to participants with a special condition (disability, etc.) during activities organized with children. Pre-test 138 3.57 1.18 5.26***
Post-test 138 2.94 1.33
30 I believe that activities must be supported with appropriate materials. Pre-test 138 4.26 .78 -1.81
Post-test 138 4.39 .76
31 I plan my time and priorities in order to spend adequate time to my friends and responsibilities. Pre-test 138 4.19 .76 -1.60
Post-test 138 4.31 .70
32 I wait for someone to finish talking before I begin to talk. Pre-test 138 4.44 .73 -1.18
Post-test 138 4.52 .64
33 If I disagree with a person, I try to see their point of view as well. Pre-test 138 4.27 .83 -1.58
Post-test 138 4.40 .74
*p < .05**p < .01***p < .001

A paired samples t-test was conducted to determine if there is a significant difference between the average scores the experiment group received for the survey items before and after the training. As a result of the analysis, this differences between the pre-test and post-test scores were revealed to be at a significance level of p < .05 for Items 4, 5, 6, 8, 14, 19, 22 and 26; at a significance level of p < .01 for Items 9, 13 and 16; and at a significance level of p < .001 for Items 1, 2, 3, 10, 20, and 29. No significant difference (p > .05) was found between the pre-test and post-test averages for Items 7, 11, 12, 17, 18, 21, 23, 27, 28, 30, 31, 32, or 33. Meanwhile, the scores obtained for items 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 19, 20, 22, 25, and 29, which showed significant differences between the pre-test and post-test averages, were significantly lower in the post-test when compared to the pre-test, while the provided training resulted in a significant increase in scores obtained regarding Items 4, 13, 16, 24, and 26.

The answers given to the Descriptive Survey on Leadership Features items were linked together based on the items; the groups were compared using the t-test and the hypotheses for detecting the effects of the programmes on leadership skills were tested. The results are given in Table 2.

Table 2

Comparative Analyses of the Answers from the Pre-test and Post-tests Items for Descriptive Survey on Leadership Features

Article Measurements
1 When I disagree with other people, I get along with them better if I calmly express my own emotions and thoughts. Pre-test 535 4.05 1.09 -10.71***
Post-test 535 4.58 .75
2 I believe that every team member’s motivation is as important as the team leader’s motivation. Pre-test 535 4.09 1.04 -9.70***
Post-test 535 4.56 .78
3 I do not consider it a problem to be busy with something else while talking to a person. Pre-test 535 2.44 1.40 2.81**
Post-test 535 2.22 1.44
4 I consider it important to listen to the directives of the leader during teamwork. Pre-test 535 4.18 .95 -8.35***
Post-test 535 4.59 .74
5 I try to get to know a person before expressing an opinion about them. Pre-test 535 4.22 1.05 -7.87***
Post-test 535 4.62 .71
6 If I am right, I do not hesitate to loudly defend my opinion. Pre-test 535 3.57 1.29 5.34***
Post-test 535 3.20 1.46
7 I pay attention to make eye contact during a conversation. Pre-test 535 4.13 .97 -9.78***
Post-test 535 4.60 .77
8 I try to empathize with a person to understand their situation. Pre-test 535 4.33 .91 -7.72***
Post-test 535 4.67 .68
9 In case of a disagreement, I propose logical suggestions instead of trying hard to make my own solution or idea accepted by the other person. Pre-test 535 4.17 1.03 -7.48***
Post-test 535 4.55 .860
10 I believe that I can develop my own leadership skills. Pre-test 535 4.20 .94 -7.96***
Post-test 535 4.58 .74
11 If I manage a team, I do not hesitate to make the other team members do most of the work. Pre-test 535 2.82 1.42 2.01*
Post-test 535 2.66 1.66
12 I respect differences. Pre-test 535 4.33 .97 -8.82***
Post-test 535 4.73 .65
13 It feels good to be part of a team. Pre-test 535 4.25 .93 -6.96***
Post-test 535 4.55 .73
14 In case of a disagreement, I insist to convince the other party more rapidly. Pre-test 535 3.11 1.28 2.96**
Post-test 535 2.91 1.41
15 In case of a teamwork, I know how to manage my team when I am the leader. Pre-test 535 4.23 .87 -8.80***
Post-test 535 4.64 .78
*p < .05**p < .01***p < .001

A paired samples t-test was conducted to determine whether a significant difference exists between the average scores the experimental group received from the survey items before and after the training. As a result of the analysis, significant differences were observed for the pre-test and post-test scores for all items. This difference is significant at the level of p < .05 for Item 11, p < .01 for Item 14 and 3 and p < .001 for all the other items. Meanwhile, the scores obtained for Item 3, Item 11, and Item 14 which have negative contents significantly decreased on the post-test compared to the pre-test, while the provided training resulted in a significant increase in the scores obtained regarding the remaining items.

Considering both the Descriptive Survey on Volunteering Skills and the Descriptive Survey on Leadership Features findings, significant changes are seen in the scores before and after the program in many items. The scores for negative items decreased in general and increased for positive items. This situation points to important gains regarding the programs.

It was stated above that the volunteers had very positive views on the program. There are many gains lying behind the pleasure and satisfaction felt by the volunteers and the parents. Volunteers were able to achieve many things thanks to the “Leadership” and/or “Volunteerism” trainings and the activities conducted. From this standpoint, the parallelism between quantitative and qualitative findings is striking. These gains mean that volunteers experienced a great and positive change and became role models for their entourage. Volunteers, parents, and youth workers observed and realized all these changes that occurred during the process, and clearly uttered them during the interviews.

This is my fourth year in this field. Buse, for example, has been my volunteer for three years. You go through that change, that process. After a while, you go like, “Is this the Buse I know? Is that the Mehmet we know? Was that Tülay?” Like that. Children believe in something more when they see that they can achieve things and when they do things when they want it and become role models. [Tamer, YW]

I can say this as the aunt of a volunteer – the change I observed with my nephew was amazing. It was unbelievable! This made me feel different. [Sevgi, YW]

In this context, the most prominent issue is the improvement of self-confidence of the volunteers to a great extent. Almost all participants indicated that their self-confidence improved, and their feelings of diffidence and shyness disappeared within the scope of the programme, their parents and youth workers supported this with their observations.

Before beginning to volunteer, I could not raise my hand to begin to speak. I was very shy at the point of beginning to speak. But after coming here to volunteer, my self-confidence has improved significantly. I can easily communicate and talk to my teachers and express my feelings. [Tayfun, V]

Thanks to the trainings they received and implementations they participated in, the volunteers began to feel themselves valued and the self-confidence they gained contributed both to their school lives and their belief towards being able to achieve things:

I learned to trust myself. I felt like an ordinary student, I thought if I could improve myself I could establish myself a life. If I could improve myself, a social life… My self-confidence improved after I began participating in this programme, I mean, I began to trust myself. I thought that I could do more things. I studied. I mean, I could not understand this lesson, I studied and began to understand. [Asım, V]

Another gain as striking as self-confidence is communication. Volunteers indicated that thanks to trainings and applications, they were able to learn to empathize, to listen, to respect the differences and ideas of others, to control anger and to be calm, to defend their and other’s rights, and to speak in front of the public. They were also able to improve their approach towards people and vulnerable groups, and to develop their presentation and speaking skills.

My self-confidence increased. My communication skills improved. My sister is hearing-impaired. I received a training on working with sensitive groups. Thus, I learned to approach them in a more conscious way. [Yeliz, V]

I learned to communicate with children, how to behave towards the elderly and our friends, it was very beneficial for my life. [Tayfun, V]

I mean, I learned how to talk or how to more intimately talk to an individual or how to defend myself. By talking, I learned how to defend myself. I think it was a nice thing. [Nezih, V]

These gains have positively contributed the volunteers’ relationship with their siblings, relatives and entourage as well.

It contributed to my family relations. You know, adolescents generally have quarrels with their families. I used to argue with my mother a lot, I mean, something happened and I calmed down. [Reyhan, V]

Another basic gain gained by the volunteers through the “Leadership” and/or “Volunteerism” programmes is the skills they developed regarding group work. Alongside self-confidence and communication skills, volunteers gained practice in working and solving problems together, learned to take responsibilities and act in solidarity, got into the habit of managing their time and act in a planned and patient way, adopted producing and putting forth things, as well as self-criticism, and improved their own leadership skills.

I learned that group works are faster in solving problems, more systematic and organized in this regard. I learned how to organize my school lessons and schedule, to create a programme and act accordingly, and to help people without expecting anything in return. [Tülay, V]

I learned very well how to behave towards children. I learned how to respect other’s opinions. I learned how to behave towards others during group works. I mean, I improved myself. [Rüya, V]

The most important thing is group work. I mean, it does not matter if there are 10 groups or 100 groups – all of them are group works. We get along with each other on every subject. No one objects. Do you see what I mean? [Deniz, V]

Volunteers’ belief in themselves increased and they began to feel “stronger” after learning to solve their own problems and experiencing to exhibit a product with team spirit and to work in an unproblematic manner even with crowded groups.

Volunteers personally developed themselves, “grew mature”, “realized themselves”, “became strong”, “felt like they grew up”, discovered their own skills, increased their class success levels, learned to respect themselves, contributed to their language learning skills, improved their self-care and hygiene skills, gained a broad point of view and awareness on many topics, understood the importance of women’s rights, children’s rights and education and developed their sensitivity towards transferring their knowledge to the public.

If I had not volunteered, I probably would not have sat here, expressed myself this comfortably and my self-confidence would not have been this high. I probably would have been an ignorant in this public. I mean, I probably would not have known how strong women were in this public. I mean, I probably would not have understood the importance of education. [Asu, V]

These gains gained by the volunteers during the course of the programme enabled them to become individuals who actively take part in the fight against bullying and racism. This does not only reveal the contribution of the “Leadership” and/or “Volunteerism” programmes to volunteers, but also to the society they live in.

We learned correct communication, respecting others and more importantly, ourselves. We learned that we have to listen to others in order to understand them and to make plans for our future. Unfortunately, peer bullying is widely observed. I began to advise children on how to protect themselves and keep themselves safe. I learned how to behave towards others… I mean, we learned too many things to tell. [Narin, V]

Via these programmes, volunteers broadened their social environment, made new friends, discovered the fact that being together with people from different cultures is a richness and embraced being tolerant and helpful. At this point, it must be emphasized that a significant number of participants, especially Syrians, had a social phobia before meeting the Turkish Red Crescent and were able to overcome this phobia by means of programmes.

My point of view towards life has changed. I mean, I learned to look at life from a broader, different perspective. I mean, realizing that we do not only live at the camp and are not only people who live at the camp, that there is a different life, people and societies outside, getting to know people from other societies and other backgrounds, communicating with them, learning to respect them… We were able to learn about the cultures of other societies as well. I mean, for example, when Turkish and Syrian societies are compared, I see that what we have is not there in the other society. I mean, we do not have something the Turkish society has. [Asu, V]

I had a fear. I was scared to go out. I would leave the house maybe once or twice a month. After meeting the Turkish Red Crescent, I always wanted to be here. [Asım, V]

A significant number of volunteers expressed that the “Leadership” and/or “Volunteering” programmes enabled them to improve psychologically, while youth workers confirmed this with the examples they gave. Programmes significantly contributed to the psychological well-being of volunteers, especially war-weary Syrian volunteers.

Thanks to the trainings, I was able to get over my war-related traumas. A new environment and new friends make me feel good and relieved. [İlhan, V]

My life before coming to Turkey and meeting the Turkish Red Crescent was very different from my life today. My previous life was a very difficult one. Turkish Red Crescent was a door opening for me – I had high expectations, which are completely met here. The trainings and sports activities I participate in here make me change myself every day and all the time. I am very happy here. [Burak, V]

After we came here from Syria, you know, there was a destruction, there was a trauma there. The psychosocial support we receive from the staff here is very important for us. I thank all our children and youth for their contribution. [Derya, P]

He had experienced many traumas during his childhood and very serious ones during his adolescence. I do not wish those upon any child. He would not smile… After beginning to take part in the Turkish Red Crescent, he began to smile. This is a source of happiness for our family. I mean, we would telephone each other and say, “I spoke to Nadir today, he smiled a lot”. I am very happy about that. [Vildan, YW]

One of the most important contributions of the programme is that it provided the volunteers with hope for the future. Volunteers seem to have learned how to be hopeful for the future, to determine a target and act accordingly and its importance.

I mean, I have been in this programme for eight years. There are no children for whom I said “this child has not changed at all” or “this child has changed very little”. An unbelievable change is observed in the children, from the beginning till the end. We observe this change with children, and also when we make family visits or when we see the mothers and fathers at the camp. They thank us and ask us how we are, just like family. We can see that, too. Not only their personalities, behaviour or self-confidence improves, but they also academically improve. We do not force children to study or do anything else. However, as we teach them how to take responsibilities and to plan their time or make them gain skills, this is reflected on the life of the child. Even on their family lives. [Vildan, YW]

To sum it up, volunteers gained many gains in various fields and became role models within their societies. This paints a promising picture for the future of volunteers and the society, as well as the communities of volunteers.

Discussion and Conclusion

The findings revealed that the Leadership and Volunteering programs are effective in terms of volunteering skills and leadership characteristics, and the participants in the programs have achieved significant gains. It was observed that there were significant differences between the pretest-posttest scores of the Descriptive Survey on Volunteering Skills and for the Descriptive Survey on Leadership Features items. In addition, in the interviews and focus group interviews with the volunteers, parents and youth workers, the gains of the volunteers were demonstrated with concrete examples.

The expectations of the participants are gathered under two titles: personal development and humanitarian aid. However, it is noteworthy that expectations for personal development such as gaining self-confidence, gaining communication skills, improving language skills, learning Turkish (for Syrian volunteers), learning new things, and gaining problem-solving skills come to the fore. Considering that the participants were under the age of 20, these findings are in line with the literature (Muştu, 2019) that career expectations are evident among young people and that the humanitarian aid factor becomes decisive as age increases.

The motivations of the participants to volunteer and to continue volunteering are grouped under three titles: Self-centered, social, and altruistic. In this respect, it can be argued that the results is similar to Fitch’s three-dimensional model: Egoistic, altruistic, and social obligation (Fitch, 1987). However, findings on motivations support Esmond and Dunlop’s 10 subscales (Esmond & Dunlop, 2004) on volunteers’ expectations and motivations. It is remarkable that the role model approach comes to the fore in the motivation of the participants to continue volunteering rather than organizational commitment. In the literature, it has been claimed that the role model approach comes to the fore among individuals who are newly volunteers and therefore have no organizational belonging (Grube & Piliavin, 2000). The prominence of the role model approach in this study may be associated with the age and generation of the participants rather than their newly volunteering. When the findings of this research are considered together with the studies showing that the organizational commitment of the Z generation is weak (Nabahani & Riyanto, 2020), the importance of doing more research on the sustainability of volunteering, the Z generation and the role model approach emerges.

It may be suggested that the research participants made progress especially with regards to respect for others’ ideas and differences, self-confidence, empathy, communication skills, communication with children, time planning, goal setting and belief in achievement, teamwork and team spirit, fight against bullying, self and peer awareness, motivation to transfer what they have learned to society and produce social solutions, leadership skills and hope for the future.

Considering the changes in scores in the survey items, an increase in items with positive content and a decrease in items with negative content indicates the positive contribution of the programs. For instance, the scores received for the Item “I want only my ideas to be accepted while working as a team” decreasing should be accepted as a positive development. Additionally, based on the pre-test results, participants are seen to have initially believed that “they may prevent bullying,” “children over 15 are not adults,” “they will make plans before getting to work, one cannot make things up as they go along,” “they are not always right during conflicts,” “they are not repelled by people with whom they do not speak the same language,” “if someone resorts to violence against them, they will not respond with violence,” “contributing to the household income is not more important than their education,” “research is needed to solve social problems,” “they could be friends with someone from a different cultural background,” and “they would not hesitate to talk in order to avoid conflict regarding an issue.” Other participants perhaps asserted having a better understanding of the subjects of personal distance and peer relations. For instance, participants indicating that “if they see a child crying, they will not hug them to calm them down” and “they will not form very close relationships with the children participating in the events by acting like their older sibling” reveals them to have a developed understanding of personal distance and peer relations. Lastly, the scores with regard to Item 29 “paying more attention to participants with a special condition (disability, etc.) during activities organized with children” decreased significantly. This may be interpreted both negatively and positively. It may be asserted that there is a decline being present regarding positive discrimination toward individuals with special needs; or a change in this direction so that people with special needs do not feel discriminated. This issue obviously needs to be discussed more in depth.

In addition to the gains of the participants in volunteering skills, the change in leadership features after the Leadership program is remarkable. The participants had displayed positive developments for all leadership items. Leadership gains of the participants (such as problem solving, collaborative leadership, decision making, goal setting, justice, teamwork, communication skills, responsibility, belonging, time management, crisis and stress management, self-awareness, self-development, empathy, critical thinking, selfdiscipline, and management) are in harmony with the literature (Bektaş, 2016; Cansoy, 2015; Durmuş, 2011; Parlar & Çelebi, 2017; Saylık & Anık, 2021; Tüysüz, 2007). Based on the findings, the participants can be asserted to have:

  • understood the importance of calmly expressing their emotions and thoughts during a conflict, of presenting reasonable suggestions and of belonging to a team,
  • begun to care about the motivations of each team member,
  • begun to listen to the leader’s directives,
  • begun trying to get to know a person before expressing an opinion about them,
  • learned not to hold back from defending their own ideas,
  • understood the importance of eye contact,
  • understood the importance of empathy,
  • begun to think that they can improve their own leadership skills,
  • begun to respect differences,
  • and to have begun to learn how to lead a team.

It was stated that the expectations of the participants were gathered under two titles as personal development and humanitarian aid, and they had self-centered, social, and altruistic motivations. Looking at the effects and gains after the programs, it can be said that these are compatible with expectations and motivations. The findings obtained shows that the participants had come a long way in their personal development by developing many skills in areas such as communication, leadership, and teamwork; gained successful socialization experiences both in their volunteering practices and in their social lives; increased their potential to benefit their families, close circles, communities, and society.

Thanks to the skills gained by those participating in the Leadership and Volunteering programs, it has been seen that they have been noticed and rewarded in various ways in their families, communities, and schools. In addition, the contribution of the programs and the volunteering process to the psychological well-being of the participants is remarkable. These developments make the participants willing to produce social benefits and reveal contribution of volunteering on not only psychological but also social well-being of the participants. Generalizing this effect of the programme created by reaching new volunteers may constitute an important step of both individual and public improvements.

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