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Why Do People Do Volunteer Work

5991 words - 24 pages

Assignment 2

What motivates people to do volunteer work?




There are almost as many reasons for getting involved in volunteer work as there are volunteers. Once people get started, they find that their deepest rewards are ones they didn't expect when they first came looking for a volunteer assignment. Participants entered the volunteer world through ads in the paper, articles in the media and invitations by friends. They wanted to get involved in a new community, they overheard someone talking about a need or they just wanted to be active. Some wanted to repay a perceived debt to society and others took up ...view middle of the document...

A better understanding of the
motives that underlie professional volunteerism may be useful in recruiting and training
professionals to give back to their communities” (Fletcher and Major 2004: 109).

In the field of psychology, the functional approach to understanding altruism is the
predominant one. Central to this approach is that people engage in various activities for
purposeful, goal-oriented reasons (Fletcher and Major 2004:110). Related to the
functional approach is the Volunteer Functions Inventory, created by Clary et al. (1998),
which is based on the functional approach to understanding altruism. A functional
perspective towards motivations to volunteer is chiefly concerned with the “why” of
volunteerism (Whitt 2006:10).

Understanding these reasons for volunteering, is important and could give us concrete answers as to why people would participate in long-term volunteering. The issue of sufficient support networks for people in need is very important. It has a very crucial role to play in the well-being of people. We all need support when we are going through difficult times and knowing that there is someone there for you, someone who cares, can make all the difference in the world.


This research is being conducted to investigate volunteer motivation, satisfactions and dissatisfactions. As is stated by Becsi et al (2008), much of the literature in the social sciences focuses on predicting volunteering behaviour with underlying theories of resources availability. Other developments use demographic attributes and socio-economic factors to best explain and predict volunteering. While socioeconomic attributes may predict volunteering behavior, they do not necessarily explain why people choose to provide their human capital to charity. Isolated studies in Marketing and other social disciplines estimate the influence of one or more social or psychological variables upon volunteering behaviour.

The research seeks to link findings from previous research done by Maner et al (2007), Andersson et al (2005) and Prouteau et al (2008) about volunteerism with actual volunteer work experiences. It was undertaken to increase our understanding of what motivates people to volunteer and what keeps them volunteering. I hope that it will promote more discussion, offer some new insight and perhaps point the way to further research.


The aims of this research were:
• To discover the initial attractions or reasons to get involved with volunteer work;
• To record the feelings and personal experiences of volunteers in order to increase our understanding of what is important to them about their volunteer work;
• To identify factors, which tend to keep volunteers involved and those which tend to alienate them.


As Patton (1990: 38-39) writes:
“Rather than believing that one must choose to align with one paradigm or the other, I advocate a paradigm of...

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