Volunteer motivation

Gunvor Winther Hvidtfeldt & Johanne Sophie Gesmar Krøyer

Student thesis: Master thesis


2011 was by the EU chosen to be the European Year of Volunteerism to accentuate and encourage the great variety of volunteer work across Europe. In Denmark this has been marked through a number of different initiatives, which among other things are aimed at enabling the fulfilment of the Government’s goal of having every second Dane performing volunteer work in the year 2020 (Reger-ingen, 2010). Several bodies within the volunteer sector have indeed noted a rise in the interest for volunteer work – whether this is due to the Government’s and the EU’s efforts or to socio-economic conditions like financial crises and rising unemployment rates can though be discussed. At the Danish Cancer Society there is as well a notion of an increase in the influx of especially young people offering their labour. Due to the mentioned socio-economic conditions there is, however, an apprehension that these young people might be more interested in what the organisation can do to their CV, than what they can do for the organisation. In this way the motives and motivation of the young applicants are questioned. The above constitute the starting point for this thesis, I which we set out to study how two groups of volunteers of the Danish Cancer Society describe and recount their own motivation. We have thus chosen to analyse and compare a younger group and an older group of volunteers and their expres-sions of what motivate and de-motivate them in their volunteer work for the organisation with the outset in a number of qualitative interviews. These interviews and the following analysis have resulted in a variety of motivational themes, which through the motivation framework of the Volunteer Functions Inventory are compared and analysed in relation to similarities and differences. This leads to a number of discussions and conclusions on different levels. First, we call attention to how the motivation factors of the volunteers can be con-sidered by the organisation and what managerial challenges and possibilities they might entail. Sec-ondly, we discuss how our investigations can contribute to the understanding and use of the men-tioned motivation framework – what challenges and shortcomings came to light during the study. Thirdly, we suggest that the comparison of the motivations of the two groups can point to a new way of understanding volunteer motivation, which on one hand makes room for the more sombre sides to motivation like feelings of guild, obligations or duty, but on the other hand also distinguish between different levels of motivation. We thus suggest that volunteer motivation can be under-stood within two categories: basic motivational factors and secondary motivational factors. We in this way lay the ground for such a division and understanding to form the basis for future studies of volunteer motivation.

EducationsMSc in Human Resource Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2011
Number of pages120