What motivates people to volunteer and how do you manage them?

Across Australia, volunteers contribute more than 700 million hours of labour to a diverse range of organisations every year. What drives them?

Every year in Australia approximately six million people choose to volunteer their time and efforts to a wide variety of not-for-profit organisations.

But how best to harness this enthusiasm forms the basis of new research from Monash Business School.

Associate Professor Herman Tse from the Department of Management, with Associate Professor Lucas Walsh, Dr Josh Howard and Dr Philip Chan have collaborated with the Salvation Army to develop an effective leadership and motivational framework for volunteer managers and volunteers in Victoria.

“Australian volunteers contribute more than 700 million hours of labour towards a diverse range of voluntary services. Within the state of Victoria alone about 750,000 people have given their time and abilities to serve on a voluntary basis,” Dr Tse says.

Limited resources

The Salvation Army has more than 30,000 ongoing volunteers who support the many different services it provides across the country, from providing emergency services such as food hampers and vouchers, to helping out in emergency disasters, working in street teams in cities to keep people safe and of course, working in its thrift shops.

When Dr Tse’s team set about trying to understand the many and varied people who volunteer, they uncovered diverse expectations and motives.

Understanding these motivational profiles helps understand how they would feel more engaged to serve their current and future positions.

The initial results suggest that different leadership styles used by the volunteer managers would influence the volunteers’ level of motivation and well-being.

“We will continue to work with the Salvation Army to expand the scope of this research, covering all the operations in the whole Australia,” he says.

Published on 28 Mar 2018