Purpose The purpose of this paper is to investigate, through the lens of the gift-giving theory, volunteers’ motivations for intending to stay with organizations. Design/methodology/approach Data were collected from 379 volunteers from 30 charitable organizations operating in Italy’s socio-healthcare service sector. Bootstrapped mediation analysis was used to test the hypothesized relationships. Findings Volunteers’ reciprocal attitudes and gift-giving intentions partially mediated the relationship between motives and intentions to stay. Practical implications Policy makers of charitable organizations are advised to be more responsive to behavioral signals revealing volunteers’ motivations, attitudes, and intentions. Managers should appropriately align organizational responsiveness with volunteers’ commitment through gift-giving exchange systems. Originality/value The findings reveal that reciprocity and gift giving are significant organizational variables greatly influencing volunteers’ intentions to stay with organizations. Signaling theory is used to explain how volunteers’ attitudes are linked with organizational responsiveness. Furthermore, this study is the first to use an Italian setting to consider motives, reciprocity, and gift giving as they relate to intentions to stay.
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