Feature

Who's for volunteering?

WRITER: Gerry Treuren
ILLUSTRATORS: The Project Twins

Issue 5

Gerry Treuren is a member of the Centre for Human Resource Management. His research focuses on volunteer motivations, employee turnover and retention, job search, and employee responses to organisational change

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"Different types of volunteers choose to volunteer for different reasons. Each presents unique challenges for volunteer managers."

THE ENTHUSIAST

The most prominent volunteers are the enthusiasts. They volunteer, often over decades, because they believe in the activity and the organisation; they feel that their participation aids the organisation's success. Examples include the sporting volunteer who once competed with the club, and the hobbyist who enjoys the activity and camaraderie with like-minded others.

THE CAUSE-MOTIVATED VOLUNTEER

A particular type of enthusiast volunteer is the cause-motivated volunteer. They are motivated primarily by their concern to ensure the success of a specific cause, and for many, their interest was piqued by personal experiences. Many health and welfare-related organisations rely on volunteers that have first-hand experience of specific causes.

THE CAREER-ORIENTED VOLUNTEER

Some people volunteer for career-related reasons. For these people, volunteering enables them to develop their expertise and enhance their resume, while also developing professional networks and relationships. Career-oriented volunteers are often students, but can also include people who are trying to switch careers.

THE ACCESS-ALL-AREAS VOLUNTEER

A specific group of volunteers are the access-all-areas volunteers, who are focussed on obtaining material benefits. For these people, volunteering enables them to get behind-the-scenes access to big events, celebrities and activities that they would not be able to access otherwise.

THE SOCIAL VOLUNTEER

The socially-motivated volunteer participates to develop new friendships and to get involved in their local community. Often these people volunteer after the death of a partner. There is also some evidence that international students volunteer for social reasons and to gain a better understanding of the local culture.

THE RELUCTANT VOLUNTEER

This volunteer feels that they need to continue volunteering to ensure the continuity of the event, activity or organisation, despite actually wanting to step back. Often these volunteers have been involved for many years, and while they want to retire, they cannot see that there are others ready to replace them.

THE CONSCRIPT VOLUNTEER

This type of volunteer is not as keen about the event or activity as the other volunteers, but is pressured to volunteer by their partner, family or friends. Often one of the longest-serving volunteers, this recruit would really prefer to stay at home.