Functional theory, volunteer, motivation, altruism, reward


This study examines the relationship between individual volunteers’ functional preferences and their ratings of a variety of non-monetary rewards. Participants, 95% of whom had volunteer experience, completed the Volunteer Functions Inventory (VFI) and rated 31 potential rewards. The results suggest that volunteers have relatively similar reward preferences, despite distinct differences in their functional preferences. Further, gender and volunteer experience have little impact on an individual’s ratings of specific rewards. Also some rewards have almost universal appeal. Finally, some rewards appear to be enjoyed less than initially expected, suggesting that volunteers may find themselves disappointed. In summary, the benefits of assessing volunteer functional needs may not offset the cost of gathering this data. In most situations, nonprofits may be best-served by offering identical, highly rated rewards to all their volunteers, since the top items have virtually universal appeal and tend to be relatively inexpensive as well.

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