While researching for another blog post, I came across the article “What Motivates Volunteers to Serve in a Youth Literacy Program?”. The link to the article can be found here:  http://www.joe.org/joe/2005december/rb4.php

In 2005, a few educators and researchers from Ohio joined forces to see what it is that motivates volunteers to serve in a “one-on-one youth literacy mentoring program,” in a non-formal educational setting. They polled a number of volunteers to see what motivated them.

The article states that the majority of volunteer motivation is based on published works of Atkinson & Birch in 1978. They defined 3 sources of human motivation:

  1. Achievement : desire to perform at a high level
  2. Affiliation : desire for positive relationships
  3. Power : desire to be in control and influence others

In 1998, Clary published work that said volunteerism serves 6 functions for volunteers:

“volunteerism correlates with volunteers’ altruistic values; volunteerism correlates with volunteers’ desire for understanding and new knowledge, it serves a social function in that it involves relationships with others; it may serve a career function in that it provides training and contacts; it may have a protective function by protecting individuals from feelings of guilt from having too much; and volunteerism may have an enhancement function by improving self-esteem”.

These researchers sent out a study to a number of 4-H literacy volunteers. The results found that these dedicated volunteers were most motivated to exercise their humanitarian  and altruistic values. This is a great leap from the previous research that claimed that volunteers are mostly motivated by affiliation to be volunteers. This information is helpful in developing methods of recruitment for programs!



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