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An optimization model for volunteer assignments in humanitarian organizations


  • Falasca, Mauro
  • Zobel, Christopher


One of the challenges facing humanitarian organizations is that there exist limited decision technologies that are tailored specifically to their needs. While employee workforce management models have been the topic of extensive research over the past decades, very little work has yet concentrated on the problem of managing volunteers for humanitarian organizations. This paper develops a multi-criteria optimization model to assist in the assignment of volunteers to tasks, based upon a series of principles from the field of volunteer management. In particular, it offers a new volunteer management approach for incorporating the decision maker's preferences and knowledge into the volunteer assignment process, thus allowing him or her to closely examine the tradeoffs between potentially conflicting objectives. Test results illustrate the model's ability to capture these tradeoffs and represent the imprecision inherent in the work of humanitarian organizations, and thus demonstrate its ability to support efficient and effective volunteer management.

Suggested Citation

  • Falasca, Mauro & Zobel, Christopher, 2012. "An optimization model for volunteer assignments in humanitarian organizations," Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 46(4), pages 250-260.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:soceps:v:46:y:2012:i:4:p:250-260
    DOI: 10.1016/j.seps.2012.07.003

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Farasat, Alireza & Nikolaev, Alexander G., 2016. "Signed social structure optimization for shift assignment in the nurse scheduling problem," Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 3-13.
    2. Degel, Dirk & Wiesche, Lara & Rachuba, Sebastian & Werners, Brigitte, 2014. "Reorganizing an existing volunteer fire station network in Germany," Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 149-157.
    3. Gutjahr, Walter J. & Nolz, Pamela C., 2016. "Multicriteria optimization in humanitarian aid," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 252(2), pages 351-366.
    4. Lee, Deishin & Sönmez, Erkut & Gómez, Miguel I. & Fan, Xiaoli, 2017. "Combining two wrongs to make two rights: Mitigating food insecurity and food waste through gleaning operations," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 40-52.
    5. repec:eee:ejores:v:264:y:2018:i:3:p:978-993 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Willems, Jurgen & Walk, Marlene, 2013. "Assigning volunteer tasks: The relation between task preferences and functional motives of youth volunteers," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 35(6), pages 1030-1040.


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