Archive volunteers: using the Volunteer Functions Inventory to understand their motivations and impact

In April I blogged about 5 tools for measuring the impact of volunteering on volunteers. One of the tools was the Volunteer Functions Inventory (Clary et al., 1998). This is a validated instrument for assessing the motivations and impact of volunteering. As part of my MSc in Social Research and Evaluation at the University of Huddersfield I have used the instrument as part of an assignment on the Questionnaire and Survey Design module.

The purpose of the assignment was to design and deliver a pilot survey of archive volunteers to understand their motivations, the impact of volunteering and how these differ by volunteer type. A questionnaire was designed using the Volunteer Functions Inventory. . It consists of 30 items divided into six scales and scored using a 7-point Likert-type scale. The six scales are:

  • Values function. The person is volunteering in order to express or act on important
    values, such as humanitarianism and helping the less fortunate.
  • Understanding function. The volunteer is seeking to learn more about the world
    and/or exercise skills that are often unused.
  • Enhancement function. The individual is seeking to grow and develop psychologically through involvement in volunteering.
  • Career function. The volunteer has the goal of gaining career-related experience
    through volunteering.
  • Social function. The volunteering allows the person to strengthen one’s social
    relationships.
  • Protective function. The individual uses volunteering to reduce negative feelings,
    such as guilt, or to address personal problems.

A pilot was carried out at two services and had 38 respondents. The Understanding and Values functions scored highest for motivations and outcomes. The Social function scored lower for motivation than expected. The Career function in motivations and outcomes varies depending on age and retirement status. In the assignment I also describe the pilot lessons and the possible methodology for a main study across England.

For those interested in more my assignment can be downloaded here. I’m currently considering whether I could undertake the main study as part of my MSc dissertation……

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