Becoming a Volunteer

The processes involved in becoming a volunteer are revealed by how people respond to messages designed to encourage them to become volunteers by appealing to their motivations. Critically important in these processes is the matching of messages to motivation. That is, building on the diversity of potential motivations for volunteering, research has documented that the persuasive impact of a message—whether in the form of a videotaped public service announcement, a printed brochure, or a newspaper advertisement—is greater when it directly addresses the recipient’s primary motivations than when it addresses other potentially relevant motivations (e.g., Clary, Snyder, Ridge, Miene, & Haugen, 1994; Clary et al., 1998; Smith, Omoto, & Snyder, 2001). These demonstrations attest to the power of motivationally based appeals to recruit volunteers, with these appeals especially likely to attract motivationally matched volunteers. The same matching principle is reflected over the course of volunteer service, where the interaction of personal motives and experiences as a volunteer predicts critical events in the life history of volunteers, including satisfaction with being a volunteer and intentions to continue serving as a volunteer.

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